Classic Boston Baked Beans


Martha's recipe for Boston baked beans is simple enough. The hardest part? Waiting for the navy or pinto beans to cook—they take about six hours. Our founder uses classic seasonings, like dry mustard, cloves, brown sugar, and unsulfured molasses, adding the essential salt pork on top. This recipe cooks best in a New England-style bean pot, but if you don't have one, use a Dutch oven.


  • 2 pounds dried pinto or navy beans

  • 1 large onion (about 1 pound), peeled, halved and sliced

  • 4 canned plum tomatoes, seeded and crushed

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 12 whole cloves

  • ½ cup packed dark-brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for serving

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

  • ½ cup unsulphured molasses

  • 12 ounces salt pork, sliced


  1. Soak beans in cold water to cover overnight in a large bowl. Drain in a colander.

  2. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange onions in the bottom of a bean pot or Dutch oven. Top, working in order, beginning with tomatoes, and continuing with bay leaves, dry mustard, cloves, brown sugar, and salt and pepper. Add soaked beans and pour over molasses. Top evenly with salt pork. Add 5 cups water and cover.

  3. Transfer to oven and bake, without stirring, until the beans are tender and the liquid has thickened, about 6 hours. Check the beans every 45 minutes, adding hot water, if necessary, to keep beans slightly soupy at all times. Remove from oven, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.

    David E. Steele
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