A pot of baked beans is a summer classic side dish. Canned beans are fine when you are short on time, but like many recipes, there are rewards when you start from scratch. 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. Try making them from scratch with this recipe for Ginger Molasses Baked Beans.
Ginger Molasses Baked Beans
For years I’ve made baked beans as my mom did using canned beans and doctoring them up. 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.
Choosing Dried Beans
Navy Beans are traditional for baked beans, but other work well too like Great Northern and Cranberry beans. They are available at most markets. I order dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo. For baked beans try Ayocote Blanco, Yellow Eye Beans or Cassoulet Beans.
Soaking and Cooking Beans
Soak the beans overnight in three times the volume of filtered water. For a short cut use the quick soak method in the recipe notes below to speed things up. Next, simmer beans until tender with carrot, onion and celery. Low and slow for a few hours is the best way to cook beans.
Finish the Recipe and Make it Ahead
Cook the bacon, sauté some onion and garlic, add your sweet essentials and spices, then bake 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.
One ingredient note: I use unsweetened ketchup from Primal Kitchen. I like the clean taste and ingredients, plus it brings the sugar down a little in this recipe. No HFCF.
However you celebrate summer, try making a delicious pot of baked beans from scratch.
Basic Soaking and Cooking
- 1 pound dried beans see notes below
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped fine
- 1 large carrot chopped fine
- 1 large celery rib chopped fine
- 1 large garlic clove chopped fine
- 1 bay leaf
Finish the Baked Beans
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger in a jar or finely grated ginger
- ½ cup molasses
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened ketchup Look for Primal Kitchen
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon regular or smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon regular or smoked black pepper
- Start the night ahead. Place beans in a colander, rinse and remove any broken pieces or debris. Place beans in a large container and cover with 3 times the amount of cold water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Before cooking, drain beans. For a quick soak method see below.
- In a large heavy pot such as a 5 ½ quart Dutch Oven, heat olive oil and saute onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add the garlic clove and cook another 1 minute. Cover the soaked beans with fresh water and add bay leaf. 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, refrigerate or continue with the recipe.
Finish Baked Beans
- Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large heavy pot, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels then crumble or chop. Drain off most of that bacon fat (do not wash the pan). 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, 1 cup of the ketchup, vinegar and spices. Stir to blend then cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Test beans to be sure they are tender. If needed, add up to another ½ cup of ketchup to make them more saucy. Baked beans can be enjoyed hot or warm and re-heat well if you have leftovers.