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baked beans, on the couch

April 27 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Recipe,Side » 33 comments


Well, well, well.  I certainly didn’t expect this.  The baked beans, that is.  I’ve spent nearly three decades’ worth of summers doing my best to avoid them—crinkling my nose, no-thank-you-ing, rolling my eyes at those ridiculous talking dog commercials.  And then I made them myself.


On Saturday afternoon, for a weather-be-damned barbecue, I gave a pound of dried white beans a quick simmer to tenderize and plump them.  Meanwhile, I whisked together a thick sauce, sweetened lightly with molasses and brown sugar and flavored deeply with pure maple syrup.  I tipped that into the pot of beans, along with hearty chunks of thick-cut bacon.  Once stirred, all of this went into the oven—covered tightly—for the rest of the afternoon at 300 degrees.  Slowly, surely, the beans drank up the sauce, becoming incredibly tender, but not at all mushy.  The bacon cooked up into meaty bits and the whole pot became impossibly saucy.


As the beans baked, I began to wonder if I’d had it all wrong about this summertime staple.  The tendrils of aroma that escaped each time I peered beneath the lid—all bacon and maple and backyard barbecue—convinced me that, oh yes, I’d had it all wrong.


As luck would have it, we also had it all wrong about the weather—a common springtime phenomenon in Chicago.  We’d planned a big barbecue spread—ribs and all.  The intermittent downpours and 4o-degree temperature, however, triggered Plan B: ribs eaten inside, on the couch.


At least I had my new-found love—baked beans—to keep me warm.


Maple Baked Beans
Adapted from Cookie

Printable Recipe

1 pound dried navy or great northern beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 thick strips bacon, cut in 1/4 inch pieces

In a large pan, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a bowl, combine everything else except the bacon. Add to the beans.  Stir in the bacon.  Add just enough water to the pot to cover everything. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then a lid. Bake for 5 hours, checking hourly to make sure the beans aren’t drying out. (Add more water as necessary to keep them submerged.) Uncover for the last half hour to brown the top, if desired.

33 comments so far. »
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  1. Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats says on April 27 2009 at 7:12 pm:

    Ahhhh, there’s just nothing like homeade baked beans. I used to refuse to eat them too – until I tried a delicious, sweet & savory homeade recipe – very similar to yours. Great post!

  2. Megan {Feasting on Art} says on April 27 2009 at 8:12 pm:

    I love this recipe. Instantly bookmarked. I agree with you about the beans from a can but I have never thought to recreate the great flavors from dried beans. Great shot of all of the jars and measuring spoons above.

  3. Whitney Merritt says on April 27 2009 at 8:20 pm:

    I LOVE the 3rd picture in this post. Amazing. I wish I had your talent.

    I have always been a fan of baked beans (even from a can…shhh) but I think I will have to try the grown up version.

    What is up with the 24 hours of warmth followed by 3 days of warm then cold rain? Oh Chicago.

  4. Half Assed Kitchen says on April 27 2009 at 8:59 pm:

    Baked bean porn. Yum!

  5. Kara says on April 28 2009 at 5:51 am:

    Wow – great pictures… and an even better sounding recipe. As the wife of someone who adores baked beans, I think I’m going to owe you big time for this later this summer.

  6. GS says on April 28 2009 at 6:52 am:

    I’ve been looking for a straightforward recipe for baked beans for a while! Thank-you! I wonder if these ingredients could all be put into the slow cooker?!

  7. Phoo-D says on April 28 2009 at 7:06 am:

    These look really good. I don’t have a go to baked bean recipe and with summer coming this will be the perfect addition to our BBQ line up. Thanks!

  8. KT says on April 28 2009 at 7:26 am:

    I always skip baked beans at barbecues / potlucks too… But now I want to try them! Your writing and pictures are just too good!! :)

  9. kenya says on April 28 2009 at 9:11 am:

    hello, first i want to say that you have such a lovely food blog. next, i’m so happy to hear of your new found love of baked beans. i simply love them, growing up my mom would brown ground beef with onions and add them to her beans before baking. i’m sure ground turkey could be used as well. thank you for sharing this recipe. i was contemplating what to make for dinner this weekend and i’ve decided to make baked beans and oven baked hot dogs.

  10. maris says on April 28 2009 at 9:16 am:

    Homemade baked beans are 100,000,000, times better than any that I’ve ever had from a can. Don’t ever try canned ones now that you’ve had these!

  11. Laura [what i like] says on April 28 2009 at 9:40 am:

    OK you’ve convinced me. I too used to shun baked beans, but perhaps this summer I’ll get off of my high horse and give these a try!

  12. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on April 28 2009 at 12:15 pm:

    What cool pictures – I especially love the one of the ingredients in the bowl! oh yeah, and it looks like a great recipe too. :)

  13. Melissa says on April 28 2009 at 2:01 pm:

    I’ve heard high praise for baked beans from Robin (cav/cod) and now from you. I think that seals my fate.

    Truly, they look heartwarming.

  14. Chocolate and Toast says on April 28 2009 at 4:45 pm:

    I just can’t tell you how glad I am that you think of these things, and then test them out! Homemade baked beans, seriously! Yummy!

  15. Polly Rice says on April 28 2009 at 9:04 pm:

    I have several friends from England that just LOVE baked beans (from a can) on toast for breakfast, which has always kind of scared me. This recipe, however, looks divine.

  16. Jodye says on April 29 2009 at 11:47 pm:

    Dijon mustard and maple syrup with beans? Sounds delicious to me!

  17. anne says on April 30 2009 at 7:53 am:


    you should definitely try adding chopped red onion and chopped green peppers

    substitute dark brown sugar for the molasses

    add regular yellow mustard

    and red wine vinegar

    and a liberal splash of ketchup


  18. Julia says on April 30 2009 at 10:11 am:

    yum! i love love loooooove baked beans, those look delicious.

  19. Jennifer says on April 30 2009 at 12:16 pm:

    I grew up eating beans JUST like these!!! served with boston brown bread. YUM!!!

  20. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 30 2009 at 7:08 pm:

    Kristin: Thanks!

    Megan: Oooh, I hope you try them! Let us know how it goes.

    Whitney: Awww, thank you!

    Half Assed Kitchen: Ha! That’s a horrifying thought, actually. : )

    Kara: Why wait to be the hero? : )

    GS: That’s a fantastic idea, because the only downside to this recipe is that your bound to the house for the lengthy baking time.

    Phoo-D: You had me at BBQ. I am so ready.

    KT: Thank you! I hope you give them a try.

    kenya: Thanks!

    maris: Agree. Never again.

    Laura: Another convert!

    Tabitha: Thanks! The only thing I didn’t like about the original was ketchup, so I swapped in tomato sauce.

    Melissa: That’s a good word for them — especially on this chilly “spring” day.

    Chocolate and Toast: Well, it’s my pleasure. : )

    Polly Rice: Yes, I think that’s kind of scary too. I’m pretty flexible when it comes to breakfast, but …

    Jodye: It was!

    anne: Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    Julia: Thanks!

    Jennifer: Ooooh, that sounds great!

  21. Jeanne says on May 01 2009 at 12:16 am:

    OMG, that looks just incredibly good!! I have heard that once you’ve made your own (as opposed to the watery, sugary canned version), you will understand what baked beans are all about – and I think this post shows why! Lovely pics.

  22. codfish says on May 04 2009 at 12:05 pm:

    Ahh, I love baked beans. Yours look lovely and I’m now making plans to make them this week.

    And I’ve got to admit, while I love baked beans at a barbecue, I think they are even lovelier when the weather is cold and rainy and they are eating inside with a blanket on your lap.

  23. Jen says on May 05 2009 at 2:04 pm:

    Your recipe and photos are scrumptious. Welcome to the Other Side!

  24. Tracey says on May 14 2009 at 8:33 pm:

    Confession: I love baked beans from a can but I’ve never made them myself. Your recipe has changed all that. I picked up navy beans today at the store and I’ll be making these this weekend! Great photos – they look so delicious!

  25. Anna says on May 15 2009 at 4:32 am:

    Thought I would pause and explain about the UK/US bean issues…

    English baked beans are completely different to American baked beans… they are just baked in a gently sweet tomato sauce, no bacon, no smokiness, no syrup or spices. I can see why you might not want the richly-flavoured beans for breakfast, but over here they’re mild. I love English baked beans AND American baked beans! But they are totally different things. Tuscan baked beans, or bean soup – with sage and tomato – are good, too!!

    Canned beans are an important part of the British cooked breakfast – eggs, bacon, toast, sausages, hash browns and baked beans! (I don’t think anyone has tried to replicate our canned type at home though. we are hooked on Heinz!)

  26. Meggie says on May 17 2009 at 5:27 pm:

    Saucy! Love the pictures of the sauces, btw.

  27. Kevin says on May 30 2009 at 10:03 am:

    Making your own baked beans sounds like fun! I like the maple syrup in them.

  28. Polly Rice says on June 07 2009 at 9:59 am:

    I had to write again since I have now made these…wow! everyone was so impressed with them. And, I didn’t even put the bacon in (vegetarian guests)! So I imagine they will only be even better when I get the chance to do the proper recipe.

  29. inge says on November 17 2009 at 5:48 am:

    My family is baked beans mania but we prefer the English version rather than the American, however I will try this recipe. TFS.

  30. a persuasive cake « bella eats says on March 31 2010 at 9:57 pm:

    [...] afternoon, complete with Double H Farm baby back ribs smoked on the Big Green Egg, the best baked beans I’ve ever had, salad with a hearty base of [local!] emerald green spinach and a delightfully [...]

  31. Jaime says on July 08 2011 at 3:02 pm:

    Mine are in the oven right and can’t wait to eat them, they smell sooooo good!! We live in Brazil where a tin of Heinz costs US$7 so they are a real treat to have rather than a part of our daily meal. Can’t wait to have them sitting in my fridge whenever I want, if they last that long!

  32. Blog Bites IV « Healthy Food For Living says on October 13 2011 at 2:02 am:

    [...] Kristin’s (The Kitchen Sink Recipes) Maple Baked Beans marks the first time I’ve made the classic barbeque side dish from scratch, and the 5 hours [...]

  33. Recipe: Maple Baked Beans says on May 25 2012 at 6:27 am:

    [...] Adapted from The Kitchen Sink [...]

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