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Leahs Old Fashioned Baked Beans Recipe

May 8, 2008

Now who doesn’t like baked beans?!? This recipe is my version of the old fashioned classic – super easy to do in a crock pot or slow cooker – though I still do mine in a slow oven. My great tasting homemade baked bean recipe combines the style and flavors from many states & cities: Boston, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and mine (New York) – heck it’s an American Fave!

I would recommend baking these the day before your ‘party’ to make it easier. Do not be put off by prep time (the beans need to soak over night) nor the cooking time which takes about 8 hours…ok I know a can of beans might be just as good to some of you and a lot faster, but there are clearly not homemade…so when you want to strut your ‘Martha’ try this recipe!


  • 1 bean pot with lid or slow cooker/crock pot
  • 1 large bowl or pot to allow raw beans to soak over night
  • 1 bag of navy beans
  • 1 large yellow onion – cut into chunks
  • 4 gloves garlic, mashed with the side of your knife
  • 1 cup ketchup or more
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 pound or less of salt pork OR 6 semi-cooked pieces of thick bacon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses (love the stuff – and you can use more)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup spicy or dijon mustard
  • water


  1. I would suggest to start doing this 2 days before you need your baked beans for your picnic or party. Reheating is super easy, but the soaking takes at least 8 hours – as I do this normally over night to make it easier and the cooking takes another 8 hours.
  2. I assure you, you barely do anything as it cooks, you simply let it do its thing – except for when its done, you eat too many they are sooo good! lol
  3. Take strainer and rinse beans under water removing any stones or impurities.
  4. Take large pot or bowl and fill with water to completely cover the beans in pot/bowl – then add another 4 cups water and set aside loosely covered on your kitchen counter.
  5. During the eight hours of soaking, drain off water and add fresh water three times. Now you are ready to start baking your beans!
  6. In bowl, add all spices, garlic, onion and liquids except for water and mix till combined.
  7. Put beans in your bean pot or slow cooker. Add semi-cooked bacon or your salt pork which you have made slits in with a knife. Add onions and stir to mix it around.
  8. Next pour spice mixture into bean pot, slow cooker, etc. Stir till all contents are well mixed.
  9. Add enough water to cover the beans at least an inch above the beans.
  10. If baking in a bean pot, throw the baby in the oven and let it bake at 250-325 degrees – on your oven’s lowest setting for 6 to 8 hours – eight is better I find. Stirring once or twice during the baking period.
  11. Take a peek now and then to make sure there is always enough ‘water’ to just cover the beans as the water may evaporate during the long cooking time. You may add extra ketchup if you like (as I did the other day)
  12. During last hour, remove lid and continue baking – to allow any extra water to evaporate leaving you with a thick sauce and amazing baked beans.
  13. If doing this in a slow cooker or crock pot, follow the directions above, but you may want to use just enough water to the crock pot to just cover the beans.
  14. For alterations – add additional cooked bacon cut up or cooked hot dogs for those who love a little extra to their baked beans!
  15. For veggie versions – omit salt pork and bacon – end results just as good!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. The Nest Keeper permalink
    February 14, 2009 9:16 pm

    Please see my recipes for beans on

  2. Bev permalink
    March 2, 2009 11:48 pm


    I soaked good 7 hours but, then boiled in fresh water till skin of bean breaks when you blow on it.

    If I don’t boil after soak the beans are bullets.

    They are in slow cooker for the night. cut down on dry mustard, (2 t to 3 teaspons, 2 T sounded like a lot.

    Will let you know in morning how it went. thanks.

    • chefmaven permalink
      March 3, 2009 5:38 pm

      Yes – excellent – that is exactly what my own mother taught me – and thanks for pointing that tip to all my readers…in learning when those beans are cooked…

  3. Jim permalink
    May 9, 2009 2:04 pm

    Hi! Do you use a 1 or 2 lb bag of Navy Beans for “Leahs Old Fashioned Baked Beans? Thanks! Jim

    • chefmaven permalink
      June 28, 2009 1:02 pm

      It’s the normal 1 pound bag of dried beans…which once soaked over night really do plump up – and fill the ‘old fashioned bean jar’ that I have always used to cook them in – which you can still find around in flea markets – best way – they stay moist and not dry up in those old ceramic oven-proof bean jars…. no lid? simply use a ‘made up’ layer folded over a few times of tin foil to use as a lid…

  4. KATHY permalink
    July 4, 2010 9:26 am

    Well I followed your recipe to the letter. My beans had a wonderful delicious sauce. However, the beans were little rocks. You know “teeth breaking” hard! I was never so ashamed of a dish I made as I was this one! My husband was upset at the $20 I wasted. Not to mention the jokes he made about my “Boston Baked Pebbles”. I should have listened to him and got baked beans from the can. Even canned beans were better, at least you could eat them. – Ashamed in Missouri –

  5. Chef Maven - Leah permalink
    July 4, 2010 10:30 am

    Hmm – I am so sorry, but I would think 8 hours of soaking in water and changing out the water every so often and cooking for another 8 hours would not make your beans as pebbles…

    There is a big reason why you soak them over night – it softens those things you refer to pebbles….

    also did you try them during the cooking process as most cooks would do? Another trick and this I will add to the recipe, is when you are nearing the eight hours, take a spoon of them out and literally blow on the beans – the skins should peel back on their own – letting you know the beans are completely done…

    Sounds like you didn’t soak them in water for eight hours nor did you cook them for the 8 hours as mentioned in the recipe… good luck with your canned beans next time…

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