Baked beans are comforting, satisfying, and a great side to grilled or barbecued meats. While they’re usually baked in the oven, it’s even easier to throw everything in the slow cooker instead. Smoky bacon, navy beans, onion, and a few sweet ingredients like molasses, ketchup, and brown sugar are stirred together and slow-cooked until the beans are tender and the sauce thickens. The beans taste better the longer they sit, so make them a day or two ahead or freeze for later.
What to buy: There are various intensities of molasses available, from light to blackstrap. Dark (sometimes marketed as robust) tastes best in this recipe. Molasses can be found in the baking aisle at grocery stores.
Game plan: The beans can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator before reheating over low heat. Be sure to soak the beans the night before you plan on making the recipe.
We tested this dish cooking the beans for 6 hours on both high and low settings, with excellent results for both. While you’re waiting for the beans to cook, learn How to Cook Zucchini with our easy recipe.
- 1 pound dried navy or pea beans (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices), small dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 1/2 cups water, plus more for soaking the beans
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup dark molasses, also known as robust (not blackstrap)
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Place the beans in a large bowl and pick through them, discarding any broken beans or stones. Cover the beans with at least 3 inches of cold water. Allow to soak uncovered at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander and reserve the bowl (no need to wash); set the bowl aside. Place the beans, bacon, and onion in a slow cooker.
- Whisk the remaining measured ingredients in the reserved bowl until combined. Pour into the slow cooker and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover and cook on either high or low heat until the beans are tender and the liquid thickens slightly (it will thicken more as it cools), about 6 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.