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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!

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Homemade baked beans in a white ceramic dish.

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!!!!

Baked beans on a spoon.

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 to make homemade baked beans (from scratch).

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!!

Navy beans being soaked in a pot of water.

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.

Cooked navy beans being drained in a colander.

Next you’ll drain the beans.  However, save the liquid!!!!  The reserved cooking liquid will be used in the next step.

Bacon and onions being sautéed.

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.  

Cooked baked beans in a large ceramic dish.

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.

Optional Add-Ins

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!

Cooked old fashioned southern baked beans ready to serve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Baked Beans from Scratch in the slow cooker?

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.

Where can I find dried beans in the grocery store?

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.

How should I store leftover baked beans?

​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.

Baked beans in a dish.

Other Side Dishes I Love

Baked Beans from Scratch in a ceramic dish with a spoon in it.

Baked Beans from Scratch

Author: Kelsey
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Soak Time 12 hours
Total Time 15 hours 30 minutes
14 1/2 cup servings
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!


  • 1 pound dry navy beans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 slices bacon diced
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved bean liquid*


Prepare the Beans

  • Pour the dry navy beans into a large pot and cover them with cold water. Be sure to have a few inches of water covering the beans as they'll soak up quite a bit. Cover the beans and let them soak for 12 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the beans. Cover them with fresh water, covering them with an extra 1-2 inches of water on top. Stir in the salt and the baking soda.
  • Bring the pot of beans to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let them simmer, stirring occasionally, for one hour.
  • Drain the beans, reserving the water for later.

Mix and Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, add the diced bacon.
  • Cook for a few minutes then add the diced onion.
  • Cook until the bacon is crisp and the onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, ketchup, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved liquid (you may need to add more later).
  • Pour the bean mixture into a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. (Or simply cover the Dutch oven with a lid)
  • Bake for 1 hour then give the beans a stir. If it's beginning to look dry, you can add a little more of the reserved bean water.
  • Bake another 30 minutes, stir the beans and remove the foil.
  • Bake for 30 more minutes (the beans will thicken).
  • Stir and serve warm.


*You’ll reserve some of the liquid after boiling the beans.


Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 720mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 4.6g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 341mg | Iron: 2.8mg
“Dance Around the Kitchen” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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  1. Grace Sizemore says:

    Can I prepare the baked beans as directed, but bake them the next day? Love your site!