Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans

Slow cooked crockpot Boston Baked Beans! These homemade baked beans are easy to prepare and have loads of molasses flavor. Great with hot dogs or franks!

Boston Baked Beans
Elise Bauer

Why the "Boston" in Boston Baked Beans

Ever wonder why Boston baked beans are called "Boston" baked beans?

It's the molasses.

Boston has been tied to molasses since colonial days when the city was a trade center for rum from the Caribbean. Molasses is used for rum production and is a by-product of sugar refining and was easily available to the colonists.

And then there's the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, when a huge tank of molasses exploded and sent a sea of the gooey stuff flooding the streets of the North End. I lived in the North End of Boston in the early 80s and at the time you could still pick up a faint scent of molasses on a hot summer day.

Baked Beans cooked in slow cooker in serving bowl
Elise Bauer

The Science Behind Slowly Cooking Baked Beans

Now to the baked beans. Boston baked beans are by definition, slowly cooked.

According to Shirley Corriher in CookWise (great book, btw), either sugar or calcium will make beans hard, even after long hours of cooking.

Molasses contains both sugar and calcium, which is why adding molasses to a pot of beans will enable you to cook the beans for what seems like forever, without the beans getting mushy. But it also means that if you cook the beans in molasses to get that wonderful flavor, you have to cook them a good long time.

Although traditionally cooked in an oven, Boston baked beans lend themselves perfectly to slow cookers, which is the method we prefer here.


Watch This Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans Recipe

Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans

Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs
Servings 5 to 6 servings

Why pre-soak the beans? You don't have to (see this great Russ Parsons article in the LA Times about why you don't need to soak beans), but not doing so in this recipe will increase the cooking time. With the beans pre-soaked, they'll still take 8 hours to cook and soften in a slow-cooker. Once beans come in contact with the molasses, the sugar in the molasses will keep the beans firm. That's why they take so long to cook.


  • 1 pound (2 to 2 1/4 cups) dry white beans such as Navy beans or Great Northern beans (can also use kidney beans)

  • 1/3 cup molasses

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 3 cups hot water

  • 1/2 pound salt pork (can sub bacon), cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces

  • 1 medium onion, (1 1/2 cups) chopped


  1. Soak beans in water:

    Place beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight and drain. Alternatively, bring a pot with the beans covered with 2 inches of water to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for a hour, then drain.

  2. Mix molasses, brown sugar, mustard, ground cloves with water:

    Whisk together the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with 3 cups of hot water.

  3. Add ingredients to slow-cooker, layering them, starting with the salt pork:

    Line the bottom of a slow-cooker (or a Dutch oven if you are cooking in the oven) with half of the salt pork (pick the fattiest pieces). Layer over with half of the drained beans. Add all of the chopped onion in a layer.

    Salt pork at bottom of slow cooker for baked beans
    Elise Bauer
    Adding onion to slow cooker for Boston Baked Beans
    Elise Bauer

    Top with another layer of beans and the remaining salt pork. Pour the molasses water mixture over the beans to just cover the beans.

    Layering beans and salt pork for crock pot baked beans
    Elise Bauer
    Baked beans beginning to cook in slow cooker
    Elise Bauer
  4. Slow cook until beans are tender:

    Cover and cook in a slow-cooker on the low setting for 8 hours (or in a 250°F oven), until the beans are tender. Check the water level a few hours in, and if the beans need more water, add some. Add additional salt to taste if needed.

    Note that fresher beans will cook faster than older beans. Your beans may be ready in less than 8 hours, or they may take longer. Best the next day.

    Serve with Boston brown bread.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
643 Calories
32g Fat
72g Carbs
19g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 643
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 1304mg 57%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Dietary Fiber 12g 44%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 174mg 13%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 1248mg 27%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.