Leave the oven off and make these Boston Baked Beans in a crock-pot. You’ll never eat canned baked beans again!
Canned beans are probably the number one food I recommend everyone keep in their pantry. I tend to buy them almost every time I’m shopping, and as a result, I have about six thousand cans in my pantry. You never know when you’re going to have to make baked beans for the entire town.
You can’t beat beans for a quick, healthy, and extremely inexpensive source of protein. Plus, they’re heart healthy. The fiber in beans is mostly soluble, and that’s the kind that’s especially good for your blood sugar and cholesterol. Soluble fiber also keeps you full, so foods like beans are great if you’re looking for an easy way to eat less. Apparently grocery stores have caught on to the benefits of beans – have you noticed just how many varieties and flavors of canned beans line the shelves all of a sudden?
In my opinion, canned Boston baked beans are OK. Unless you’re in the habit of making your own. Then you realize just how tomato-y, or soupy, or just plain not very good many brands are. I think good Boston-style baked beans should be thick, rich and molasses-y. With a good kick of mustard, and a hint of smoky bacon flavor. OK who am I kidding. Lots of bacon flavor is best. Because, bacon.
You can certainly make these beans vegetarian, but if you’re going all out and adding the bacon, get the kind that’s minimally processed and free from nitrates. It takes a bit of looking – usually where the organic meats are – but it’s not quite as unhealthy. AKA you can eat more of it!
Here’s a tip about beans – if you soak dried beans overnight, not only will it reduce the cooking time by a few hours, but also, you’ll get rid of some of those starches that the human body can’t break down, and as a result leads to the gas and bloating many people experience from beans. SO soak ’em and change the water once or twice!
Boston baked beans take a while to cook, but it’s super-easy, hands off work. These cook up so easily in the crock-pot, which means no oven on all day. That’s really good when you live in Arizona, because it’s only March and our temps are already heating up. #SummerBBQFood
Crockpot Boston Baked Beans
- 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed well
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup molasses (divided)
- 6 slices lean bacon (nitrate free)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- salt and fresh ground pepper
If desired, soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. This step is optional, but will cut down on your cooking time and remove some of the indigestible starches.
Place the beans, 6 cups of water, salt, 2 tablespoons of molasses, 2 slices of the bacon (raw), and 1/2 of the diced onion in a crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8-11 hours, or high for 5-7 hours.
When the beans are almost tender, slice the remaining 4 slices of bacon, and over medium-high heat, saute the bacon with the remaining onion, until the bacon is crisp and the onion is caramelized. Drain off any fat from the pan and set aside.
In a mixing or large measuring cup, mix together the remaining 1/4 of molasses, the dijon mustard, the brown sugar, and the apple cider vinegar. Stir well to combine, and add the cooked bacon and onion. Set this mixture aside.
When the beans are thoroughly cooked, drain off any excess cooking water, reserving about 1 cup. Discard the bacon from the crockpot.
Add the beans back to the crockpot and pour the bacon onion molasses mixture over the beans, stir gently to coat the beans well. Add some of the reserved cooking water as needed, to loosen the sauce.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Let the beans heat through and serve immediately, or reduce the heat setting on the crockpot to the lowest setting and hold the beans for up to 2 hours until ready to serve.
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen
How many cans of beans are in your pantry?