Ginger Molasses Baked Beans from Scratch

By Sally Cameron on July 12, 2011

beans, legumes & grains, Side Dishes, vegetarian,


July is National Baked Bean month, so what better reason to make a pot of baked beans. Instead of taking a shortcut with canned beans, this time I started with dried.  The result? Big baked beans with a meaty texture plus rich sweetness from brown sugar and molasses, a little kick from garlic and ginger, and smoky flavors from bacon and spices. Who could resist this summer classic? Ginger Molasses Baked Beans.

molasses baked beans |

Ginger Molasses Baked Beans

Baked beans signal backyard barbecues, casual get-togethers, and family gatherings.  Canned beans are great when you are short on time, but like many recipes, there are rewards when you start from scratch.

For years I’ve made baked beans as my mom did. By using canned beans and doctoring them up you can make tasty baked beans in about an hour. Making baked beans from scratch takes longer, but you can spread the work over two to three days if needed: soaking, simmering and finally baking. The process is easy. It just takes a little thinking ahead.

molasses baked beans |

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans

With my recent shipment of dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo I had a pantry full of good options for my baked beans.  Goat’s Eye, Yellow Indian Woman or Jacob’s Cattle are among the many good choices. For this batch I went with the Goat’s Eye beans. If you’ve never ordered from Rancho Gordo before, have fun reading all of the bean descriptions as you decide what to purchase. They all make for a good pot of beans.

Soaking and Cooking Beans

Begin by soaking the beans overnight in plenty of filtered water, or use the quick soak method to speed things up. The next day, simmer beans until tender with carrot, onion and celery. My beans took about three hours to become tender. Low and slow is the best way to cook beans.

Finish the Recipe – Make it Ahead

To finish the recipe, cook the bacon, sauté some onion and garlic, add your sweet essentials and spices, then bake the beans in the oven for about an hour. You can do this the same day or cool, refrigerate after cooking and finish baking the next day.

To sweeten the beans up, I used molasses and real brown sugar. Be sure to buy a real brown sugar, not brown sugar that passes as brown because it is just white sugar with added molasses. For good sweeteners, check out the options from Wholesome Sweeteners

For fun, check out this website about American food holidays. The list for July reads like a classic summer cookout. Baked beans, hot dogs, ice cream, blueberries and picnics are all honored in the month of July. However you celebrate summer, try making a delicious pot of baked beans from scratch.

Helpful Links

Dried bean cooking method from Rancho Gordo

More dried bean recipes from Rancho Gordo

molasses baked beans |
Print Recipe

Ginger Molasses Baked Beans from Scratch

Rancho Gordo is the source for wonderful heirloom dried beans. Order from their website online.  Their flat shipping rate is a great deal so stock up and try different varieties. To make a fast version of this recipe, use 56 ounces of canned baked vegetarian beans such as Bush’s and add your own bacon, onion and spices. For extra smoky flavor, use smoked spices as well. For a vegetarian or vegan version, skip the bacon and saute with a little olive oil. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of this recipe. It’s harder to explain than do!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1 pound heirloom dried beans such as Goat’s Eye Yellow Indian Woman or Jacob’s Cattle
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced or chopped fine
  • 1 large carrot diced or chopped fine
  • 1 large celery rib diced or chopped fine
  • 1 large garlic clove chopped fine
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3-4 slices bacon pork or turkey, preferably applewood smoked and nitrate free, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons jarred ginger puree
  • ½ cup unsulphured organic molasses
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup you may not use it all
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon smoked black pepper or regular, but the smoked adds great flavor
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular, but the smoked adds great flavor


Soak and Cook The Beans

  1. Start the night ahead. Place beans in a strainer, rinse and remove any broken pieces, stones or debris. Place beans in a large container and cover with several inches of filtered (not tap) water. Dried beans absorb a lot of water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. For a quick soak method see the link below.

  2. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil and saute onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add the garlic clove and cook another 1 minute. Add the bay leaf and the soaked beans, water and all. No need to drain the beans (per the bean experts at Rancho Gordo). Bring to a boil. Boil beans for 5 minutes, then turn heat to low, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 2-3 hours until the beans are tender. Check your beans occasionally to make sure they are covered with a little water. If needed, add hot filtered water (not tap water). When beans are tender, drain, cool, and refrigerate or continue with the recipe.

Finish The Beans

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.  In a large heavy pot, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain off most of that bacon fat (do not wash the pan) and set bacon aside on paper towels until needed. In the hot pan cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 1 minute. Add the beans, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegars and spices. Stir beans to blend, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Test beans to be sure they are tender and cooked. If needed, add up to another 1/2 cup of ketchup to make them more saucy.

  2. Baked beans can be enjoyed hot or warm and re-heat well if you have leftovers.


Leave a Comment
Ron | 07/12/2011 at 2:26 pm


Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) | 07/12/2011 at 2:48 pm

This looks great. I’ve never seen ginger puree. Do you know of any substitutes?

    Sally | 07/12/2011 at 10:21 pm

    Hi Rivki. Every grocery store has it. You can usually find it in the produce department in little jars. I prefer the organic kind. Right now I am using the brand from The Ginger People. The label says minced ginger, but its a fine puree and so easy to use. If you can’t find it, use fresh ginger pieces, peeled, the rubbed over a microplane grater for fine juicy ginger.

susan | 07/13/2011 at 3:45 pm

Yay for baked beans month! Yours is a meal, all wrapped up into one little pot! We need to coordinate a baked beans pot luck!

Dr. Patrick Mahaney | 07/14/2011 at 4:43 am

This makes me want to barbecue!
I am going to forward this recipe to my mom and sister as a means of making the beans without white sugar or ketchup (also containing sugar in the form or 2 types of corn syrup…yuck).

Francesca | 07/18/2011 at 10:22 pm

Glad I caught this entry before the month ended! I had no idea Baked Bean month. I’ll definitely try this. Thanks for sharing!

Lori | 09/27/2016 at 1:27 pm

Made this today. I have a 3 year old, I will keep you posted.

    Sally Cameron | 09/27/2016 at 5:36 pm

    Please do Lori, I hope your little one likes it.

Melissa S. | 03/01/2017 at 12:32 pm

I came to your website looking for baked beans and I found some!! I have pinto beans, red beans, and navy beans. Would one of these also work? Are the other’s more nutritious?

    Sally Cameron | 03/10/2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Melissa, I think you could probably use any of them that you like and they would be good! Please report back on which you choose so other readers can benefit. Thanks!

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