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Simple BBQ Boston Baked Beans Recipe

Boston BBQ baked beans
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4.38 from 87 votes
Looking for the perfect side dish for your next cookout? Nothing screams BBQ more than a sticky and smoky bowl of Boston baked beans. It was in Beantown that the notion of mixing dried beans with molasses was conceived. This flavorful recipe is an ode to the original while offering suggestions for amping them up.

Serve with: Boston lager.

Main Course
Side Dish


Servings: 1 cup (236mL) each


Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours


  • 6 strips thick bacon or 1/4 pound (113.4g) pork fatback
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 15-ounce cans of Navy or pea beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
About the beans. If you use dried beans, use 1/2 pound (226.8g) and follow the instructions in my article The Science of Beans for soaking them. Plan on them taking hours to soften. Start soaking at least 24 hours before serving time.
Amping them up. Add up to 1/2 pound (226.8g) of leftover barbecue rib meat or pulled pork or beef brisket at the same time you add the beans. Now that's what I'm talking 'bout!
Optional add-ins. At the beginning of the cook, add a pinch of cinnamon and/or a pinch of ground powdered cloves. A teaspoon of lemon juice and/or some diced jalapeños just before serving can provide lift.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Coarsely chop the onion.
  • Cook. You can cook on a stovetop, in your indoor oven, in your smoker under the meat, or on your grill for 2-zone cooking.
  • On the smoker or grill. Over the hot part of the grill, on the sideburner, or indoors on your stovetop, warm a 9 x 13" (23 x 33cm) pan and add the bacon. Cook the bacon until brown on both sides, but remove it before it is hard and crunchy. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and save it in the fridge for another day.
  • Add the onion and cook until it is limp, but not brown. The bacon residue on the bottom of the pan may get really dark. If this happens, add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze the bottom, and scrape off this flavorful fond with a wooden spoon. As the water evaporates, the onions will fry and sizzle.
  • Add 2 cups (473.2mL) hot water or stock. If you use dried beans add 3 cups (709.8mL) hot water or stock. Dump in the beans, molasses, mustard, bay leaf, pepper, and bacon. If you are using leftover barbecue meat, add it now. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil and cut it back to a simmer immediately. Once they are back on the indirect side, start the smoke rolling.
  • If you are cooking ribs, pulled pork, or beef brisket, you can put the beans in a pan under the meat. It will catch the flavorful rub laden drippings (fat and all). If you have a hot side, every 30 minutes rotate the pan 1/4 a turn so one side is not always facing the heat, and stir, scraping the bottom, to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom and burning. Cooking time will be about 2 to 3 hours depending on several variables. Exact cooking time will have to do with the variety of bean, your grill, the weather, and other variables. If you used dried beans, cooking time will depend on how long you soaked. Regardless of method, stir regularly to make sure they don't stick and burn. If the beans begin to dry out, add water. If they are too watery, take off the lid and turn up the heat to evaporate water. Taste the beans to see if they're the right tenderness for you after about 1 hour if you used canned beans, and 3 hours if you used dried. If needed, when they are ready, you can take them off and put them on a burner with a lid on the pot, flame on low, and hold beans for hours. Just before serving, taste and add salt, pepper, barbecue sauce, or more molasses if you like.
  • On a stovetop. Do it in a pot with a cover on and turn the flame to just above low and simmer, don't boil, for 2 to 3 hours.
  • In the oven. Do it in a pot with a cover on, put the pot on a middle rack and set the temp for 325°F (162.8°C).
  • How to sweeten them. Make the recipe below and then taste them. If you want them sweeter and richer, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (59.2 to 118.3mL) of sweet tomato based Kansas City style barbecue sauce. The exact amount will depend on the brand of sauce. Then taste again. Not sweet enough? Add brown sugar a tablespoon at a time. When it is just right, cook another 5 minutes.
  • Serve. Serve the baked beans while still hot.