Classic Baked Beans

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In America, baked beans are a party staple. We all remember the comfort food we ate as kids at picnics, barbecues, and family gatherings. The smoky, sweet and savory combination combined with the filling and tender beans make this side dish one you’ll be willing to risk to get full! Beans come in a wide variety, are easy to store and carry, and are a must-have for your next gathering. At this point, you’re going to have to trust us.

Baked Bean Shortcuts:

The most time-consuming part of this recipe is the prep work. You need to make sure to soak the beans overnight so they cook properly. They don’t call them dried beans for nothing – they’re rock hard when you pull them out of the bag. A handy shortcut we like to use: Boil the beans for 20 minutes, then let them sit for 1 hour, then simmer for another hour.

Slow Cooker Instructions:

Baked beans from scratch are definitely one dish you can throw in the slow cooker and forget about. There’s nothing like coming home to the scent of a home-cooked meal. Especially if you’re working or running errands all day! To make this recipe in the slow cooker, you still need to soak the beans overnight, then bring to a boil. Then, just put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Homemade Baked Beans, Simplified!

Troubleshooting: Why Are My Beans Hard?

You may find that after hours of soaking, boiling, and roasting, your beans are still firm. Most of the time, this is due to using too old and low quality beans. Dried beans can last for years in the pantry, but you could end up with a bad batch of beans. The variety, how long you cook it, and the state of the water can also cause the beans to stay firm.

You can avoid this by buying the right variety—you’ll want to stay away from darker beans, as that’s a sign they’re stale. You shouldn’t skip the all-important soaking step either! Using filtered water also helps. Calcium in most tap water will not cause beans to soften.

bean options:

If you don’t have navy beans on hand, or just want to use any white beans you have at home, don’t worry. Some of our favorite white varieties for this dish include:

  • cannellini beans
  • great north
  • baby lima

Always try substituting another type of white bean, as this will give the best flavor and texture to your homemade baked beans. If you’re pressed for time or have some on hand, canned ones work too. Make sure to drain and rinse well.

You can also use four 15-ounce cans of navy beans instead of dried beans. Drain and rinse well. Skip steps 1 and 2 and add the rinsed beans in step 5.

Are Homemade Classic Baked Beans Vegan?

As written, this recipe is not vegetarian, although it is easily modified to make it vegetarian. Simply skip the bacon and use vegetables instead of beef broth.

Pan Options:

If you don’t have an oven-safe pan, you can also put it in a 9-by-13-inch saucepan or a 3-quart casserole dish. If you don’t have the equipment detailed in the recipe, don’t get stuck – there is usually a solution!

Serving Suggestions: What to Serve With This Dish

While roasted beans from scratch are most often enjoyed as a side dish at barbecues and family gatherings, you can (and should!) make them a delicious addition to family dinners. Here are some delicious pairing options: