Boston Baked Beans


SourceThe Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
Prep time6 hours


Fannie Farmer's Boston Baked BeansThis is the Beantown classic recipe from Fannie Farmer, used in restaurants and homes across the Bay State and in many parts of New England.

This recipe is very straightforward; it includes no ketchup or tomato of any kind, indeed no seasonings other than salt-pork, salt, sugar, molasses, and an optional bit of dry mustard.

I find this recipe a bit uninspired and a bit salty, but Richmond likes it.  



2lbBeans (soaked overnight, see notes)
1⁄2lbSalt Pork
1TMolasses (not Blackstrap)
1⁄2Tdry mustard (optional)
1cBoiling Water


  1. Drain the soaked beans and but them in a large pot with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a simmer and simmer the beans slowly until they are cooked. An easy way to tell is to take a couple from the pot and blow gently on them: if the skin peels away, then they are ready.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300.
  3. Scald the salt pork, scrape off excess salt, and then score it deeply through the rind every half-inch or so. Cut the last quarter-inch off completely.
  4. Put that quarter-inch slice of salt pork in the bottom of the pot, then fill the pot loosely 3/4 full with the beans.
  5. Add the remaining salt pork, rind side up and add the remaining beans all around. The rind should be visible.
  6. Combine the salt, sugar, and mustard in a bowl, then stir in the molasses, and finally most of the boiling water. Pour this mixture over the beans and let it settle in.
  7. Top up the pot with more boiling water until it just shows through the beans.
  8. Put the beans in the oven and bake slowly for 5-6 hours, uncovering the pot for the last hour.


This is Fannie Farmer's original recipe, upon which are based countless other much-lover versions. Note that it has no onion and certainly no ketchup or tomato of any kind. The dry mustard, which appears in almost every other recipe I have seen, is almost an afterthought in this recipe, included because some feel it improves digestibility of the beans. Ms Farmer recommends pea beans or Yellow-Eye beans. I made this recipe with the latter, and I recommend them. There are really two parts to making baked beans: cooking the beans properly in the first place so they are tender, and then seasoning them for the long baking period.
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