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Slow cooked Boston Baked Beans recipe

Boston baked beans“American baked beans are different from yours. Heinz are so bland. We have loads of different ways of making beans. Hot, with molasses, with sausage or bacon. There’s real variety in the States.” Mike was giving his beans a final stir before their 8 hour simmer in his crock pot.

I’ve never been a baked bean fan. Danny likes me to buy those tiny tins of beans for his weekend brunch. The Min Pins will wolf down any leftovers but Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl is like me, she’d eat them if there was nothing else left in the world and even then she wouldn’t rush to the table.

The smell of Mike’s beans tantalised me for hours. After a few hours I had fallen in love with the aroma. When I tasted them I knew that this was the start of a passionate affair with the humble haricot.

Saturday night was marked on the calendar as Boston Baked Bean night. I was also cooking Cretan lamb in our slow cooker so the beans were relegated to the Marmite stockpot on the hob. Which dish would I serve?

The lamb was ready after three hours. We agreed to let it simmer away for at least seven hours. This was a big mistake. The lamb needed no chewing, it could easily have been sipped as a health drink. I hadn’t ruined the beans though, so we pounced on the stockpot and gorged.

If you can get a joint salt pork/streaky bacon from your local butcher or cure your own belly of pork, I recommend soaking it for an hour before simmering it for 3 minutes and adding it to the beans. Mike’s going to do this from now on, he used to use dark muscovado sugar and now is switching to light muscovado as this retains the traditional baked bean colour. This dish can be cooked in either in your slow cooker or on the hob and would probably be fine in the slow oven of an Aga.

Mike’s recipe originally came from Slow Cooker recipe book by Catherine Atkinson and has been tweaked by both Mike and me.

Boston Baked Beans recipe


  • 500g of dried haricot beans soaked overnight
  • 4 small onions (my 4 weighed 350g) peeled and studded with 4 cloves at the base
  • 6 tbsp of tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp of molasses
  • 2 tbsp of light muscovado sugar (if you use dark the beans turn out dark brown)
  • 1 tbsp of French (Dijon) mustard
  • 500ml of vegetable stock to cover
  • 200g – 225g joint of salt pork/streaky bacon (soaked for an hour)
  • Lashings of ground black pepper (salt will probably be unnecessary).


  1. Rinse and soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring them to the boil and boil gently for 10 minutes. Pour off the water and put the beans into a large casserole dish.
  2. Put the peeled onions, bases studded with the cloves, clove ends down into the beans.
  3. Mix the ketchup, mustard, molasses and sugar and pour over the beans.
  4. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the beans and bring the liquid to a very slow simmer. Simmer for 3 hours (lid on).
  5. Meanwhile, after 2 hours, soak your salt pork for an hour and then place it in a saucepan of fresh cold water. Bring this to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pork from the water and score the rind deeply (half an inch).
  6. Pop it into the bean casserole pushing it down between the beans and cook for a further 5 – 6 hours on a very gentle simmer. When the beans are cooked, remove the rind and fat from the pork and tease the flesh apart with a fork. Add the pork to the beans and serve hot with coleslaw.

Tricks and tips:

  • The simmer must be a real slow cook low heat, bubbles just brushing the surface simmer. A fast simmer would split the beans and leave you with a mushy mess.
  • The beans are very filling so there is no need for potatoes. Crusty bread would be good on the side to calm the ravenous.
  • The beans are excellent cold so if you want to kepp them for another meal and do not live alone, hide them in the fridge.

  Leave a reply


  1. yumm, that sounds really good! i do like beans and other pulses, though i too really loathe having to eat baked beans! but i mean the tinned variety. these ones sound lush! you know, at university there was a boy who had a phobia of baked beans, isn’t that incredible?!

  2. Kate(uk)

    I bought some pork belly this morning- guess what I shall have a try at for supper tonight…it won’t be cured pork, but I daresay it will still be good.

  3. Martyn

    The bean, the bean, it’s a jolly good fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, the more you toot the better you feel, so eat those beans with every meal.

    I love ’em.

  4. Dear Fiona, Our ‘boys’ will also gladly eat up any leftovers – which I’m happy about because it cuts down cost and I just hate waste.

    I recently learnt, though, that dogs find it difficult to digest pulses and that they shouldn’t eat them. I’d never heard that before and have no idea why. Maybe it’s got something to do with the ‘tooting’ that Martyn mentioned.

    I knew about not giving them chocolate (doggy equivalent of arsenic), but peas, beans and lentils???

    Maybe someone out there knows.

  5. Baked beans are among my favorites! Here’s the way I’ve been doing them lately – I added an Italian touch to a Boston tradition…

  6. Oops… I thought I left a comment here, but I didn’t. I like using maple syrup instead of sugar and for some of the molasses … it gives a slightly different taste to the beans.

    Your tip about cooking slowly for a long stretch is a good one. I once tried hurrying-up baked beans and it was a disaster. I haven’t made them since and I should try them because I love them. (When I was a child, it was a special sort of dish because my mum used lots of salted pork. We all fought over who goto to eat it!)

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi nà

    We have frozen a portion of these for my mum to try but next time that I make them, I’m going to freeze some individual portions for us.

    Normal UK baked beans are now banned fro the cottage!

    Hi Kate(uk)

    I’d love to hear how they turned out with the uncured belly of pork.

    Hi Martyn

    Tooting away here and feeling great!!!

    Hi Sally

    Have looked on the internet re dogs and pulses can’t find a thing. Did spot an article stating that soya beans are bad for dogs

    I know about chocolate and dogs.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Hi Hank

    Your recipe looks delicious!

    Hi Kate

    Thanks for the tip. We’ll try maple syrup.

    These beans were very, very good. I don’t like baked beans but was passionate about thee.

  8. Kate(uk)

    I roasted the pork belly first- under foil to make it stay gooey, then finished off without foil to make the outside sticky/crispy then cut it up into the beans.Pretty good! Belly of pork is my ‘I’m on my own this evening” treat food!

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate(uk)

    That sounds great. A much healthier option than using the salt pork.

  10. plumsource

    Would they be any good without the pork for us veggies?? I love your site by the way!

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