Level up your beans by making Baked Beans from Scratch!! Soaked navy beans are combined with a simple mixture of brown sugar, vinegar and smoky bacon then simmered together until perfectly tender and oh-so-delicious!Jump to Recipe
One of the most popular blog posts here on Dance Around the Kitchen is the Best Ever Baked Beans. They are truly SO good.
However, sometimes I get asked if baked beans could be made from scratch, using dried beans instead of canned beans. And after some trial and error, the answer is a resounding YES! Though it takes a little more time to prepare, they're worth it and make for the perfect side dish!!!!
Why I Love Baked Beans from Scratch
- They're CHEAP! Buying dried beans is much less expensive than canned beans.
- The beans have texture. They're not hard and crunchy, but they do have a little bit of a texture, which I love.
- The addition of the brown sugar and bacon is SO good. It brings tons of flavor to the beans.
- They're a side dish that goes with a variety of meals - hot dogs, burgers, meatloaf, casseroles, etc.
- It's fun to see the process of how baked beans are made! Before this little experiment, I had never seen beans go from dry to cooked so it was a really neat, fascinating process...with an absolutely delicious result!!
Ingredients Needed (Amounts in Recipe Card Below)
- Dry Beans - I use dry navy beans for this recipe. You could also use dried pinto beans - they're a little more earthy in flavor and slightly larger than classic navy beans. You could also opt for great northern beans (another type of small white beans).
- Salt - I like to add the salt when boiling the beans to get some flavor into them.
- Baking Soda - This will actually help soften the beans as they cook so they are just the right (not crunchy, but not mushy) texture.
- Bacon - Adding a couple slices of bacon brings a nice smokey flavor and a little texture to this recipe.
- Onion - I use yellow onion though white onion would work great too.
- Brown Sugar - Light or dark brown sugar will work great. It gives the recipe a sweeter flavor and we love!
- Ketchup - You could use tomato sauce instead.
- Maple Syrup - I like the depth of flavor pure maple syrup brings to this recipe!
- Apple Cider Vinegar - You could also use white vinegar.
How to Prepare Beans
The biggest difference between using canned baked beans and making old fashioned baked beans is time it takes to prepare the dried beans. Though yes, it takes some time, but the end result is super delicious baked beans!!
To do so, you'll soak the beans in water overnight. The beans will begin to soften, but will still have some bite to them. The next day, you'll drain the water and add fresh water.
You'll stir in the salt and baking soda (baking soda softens the beans - isn't science cool?!), bring them to a boil, then let them simmer for an hour. Be careful not to let the water boil over as the beans will give off a foamy liquid. It's totally normal, but you don't want to make your stovetop a mess! Just give them a stir and turn the heat down a bit.
Next you'll drain the beans. However, save the liquid!!!! The reserved cooking liquid will be used in the next step.
Now it's time to cook the bacon and onion. Cook them in a skillet until the bacon is crisp and the onions are tender.
The rest of the recipe is really quite simple! You'll add the remaining ingredients, including some of the extra liquid, then cover the beans and bake them.
NOTE: If you notice that the beans are beginning to look a bit dry, simply add a splash or two more of the reserved liquid.
Feel free to make it your own!! Add a few drops of liquid smoke, a little chili powder, some spicy barbecue sauce, cooked ground beef, diced green pepper, etc! There are so many different ways to make them - I think you'll love it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You'll follow the instructions until you pour the bean mixture into a baking dish. Instead of a baking dish, pour them into a Crock Pot. Cook them on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
They're typically in the aisle with a variety of cans of beans, different types of rice and sometimes even pasta. They're usually stored in clear bags.
Let them cool off a bit then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing them as it'll make the beans really soft and mushy.
Other Side Dishes I Love
- Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Cornbread Pudding
- Sweet Macaroni Salad
- Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Homemade Dinner Rolls