Easy Stovetop Baked Beans

Side DishComfort FoodBaked Beans

Use canned beans to cut down on time, while still making party-worthy baked beans on the stovetop. Richly flavored with molasses and brown sugar, these beans won’t disappoint.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

As an early experimental cook, I decided to make baked beans from scratch, a project that entails soaking dry beans overnight and then cooking them in a sweet, sticky broth for six to eight hours.

As good as they were (and they were really good!), I don’t want to turn on the oven for eight hours and hang around to stir them every once in a while. (Maybe next time I’ll try cooking the beans in a pressure cooker!)

That’s what makes this stovetop recipe using canned beans so appealing. It tastes like they were made completely from scratch, but they are ready in forty minutes or less with very little hands-on time.

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Navy beans are the bean of choice for New England-style baked beans. They are small and thus soak up a lot of sweet molasses goodness that is the hallmark of baked beans. You could also use Great Northern beans or another variety of small beans if you can’t find them, but the small pea beans (navy beans) are the most authentic for Boston-style baked beans.

How to Make Baked Beans - baked beans in a dish with a spoon


Once cooked, stovetop beans will keep for at least four days in the fridge. Be sure to tuck them away, well-covered with a lid, within two hours of cooking.

They can be frozen for up to six months, but the texture can become a little mushy. If you know ahead of time you will freeze the beans, reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes so the beans are not too soft. Let them cool on the counter and then chill thoroughly in the fridge before transferring to freezer-safe containers and freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.


Easy Stovetop Baked Beans Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips
  • 1/2 peeled onion, stem intact
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water


1 Cook the bacon: In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook the bacon, turning often, for 5 minutes, or until browned. Pour off and discard about half the excess fat. Set aside about 1/4 cup bacon for garnish.

2 Cook the beans: Add the onion half, drained beans, tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, mustard powder, bay leaf, salt, and water to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Cover the pot and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. If your sauce doesn’t seem to be thickening to your liking, remove the lid for the final 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the onion half and bay leaf.


Baked Beans on the Stovetop - baked beans in a pot with onion and bay leafHow to Make Baked Beans - baked beans in a pot

3 To serve: Serve the beans from the pot, or transfer them to a bowl, and sprinkle the reserved bacon on top.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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2 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Beverly

    My husband loves baked beans so thought I’d give this quick and easy version a try. I used pork belly instead of bacon and white kidney beans as that’s what I had on hand. There were delicious as is but as my husband loves spicy, I add a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Wow it kicked it up! Either way this recipe is a keeper!


  2. Bryce

    I tested this recipe and it works so well. And it’s not just great for BBQs and picnics. Some sautéed potatoes, a fried egg, and THESE beans!


Baked Beans with Molasses - baked beans in a pot with a wooden spoonEasy Stovetop Baked Beans