Food

Self-Serve Baked Beans

Self-Serve Baked Beans

I can’t wait to make this for the Super Bowl this weekend…

To be clear, I love like making dinner for people any day of the year, but I like it especially for big nights like the Super Bowl (or the Oscars or the World Series!), which feels like a good excuse to relax most of the instincts I have around dinner in general. To begin with, the usually verboten TV is not only on, it is the absolute star of the party. Plates piled high on laps on sofas: Totally fine! No need to wait for everyone to sit down, go ahead and wolf down that first helping while yelling at Pat Mahomes with your mouth full.

And then there’s the comfort food-y main dish, which is always the very definition of crowdpleaser. In the past, we’ve made chili (of course), but also Italian subs, steak sandwiches, mac and cheese, nachos and all kinds of stews. This year, I’m psyched to make an old favorite recipe for baked beans, which we can prepare well in advance and has the added bonus of making the house smell warm and cozy. We forgo any official Side Dishes for chips and toppings (cilantro totally counts as a vegetable!) and set up a self-serve station ahead of time so we can just chill… or cheer or scream. Either way! It makes me wonder why I don’t do this kind of thing every Sunday.

Baked Beans
This version is from my last book, How to Celebrate Everything and was inspired by Victoria Granof. Makes 8 to 10 half-cup portions.

1 pound dried navy or Great Northern beans
1 small onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 thick strip bacon (omit if you’d like it to be vegetarian; or serve bacon crumbles for toppings)
5 to 6 cups boiling water
Suggested toppings: cornbread (store bought or homemade), Fritos (!), shredded sharp cheddar, fresh herbs like parsley or chives.

In a large pot, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain. Return the pot to the stovetop.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In the large pot, over low heat, combine all the ingredients except the boiling water. Stir in the cooked beans.

Add just enough of the boiling water to the pot to cover everything. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then cover the foil with the lid. Bake for 5 hours, adding more warm water as necessary to keep the beans submerged. Uncover completely for the last 30 minutes to brown the top.

Thoughts? What are you serving for the Super Bowl, if you’re watching it?

P.S. The best supermarket salsa for your Super Bowl party and the magic of potlucks.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Courtney says...

    Made these for a family Superbowl gathering last night. They were great! Threw in several slices of bacon instead of just one :)

  2. I made these for some friends last night and they were a hit!

  3. Molly says...

    It is so weird that you posted this, because I have been jonesing for homemade baked beans. I’ve printed your recipe and will be making it this weekend. Thanks so much.

  4. Diana says...

    Eating them regularly (and more fiber in general) also makes them easier to digest.

  5. Julie says...

    Last year I made Stromboli with marinara sauce for dipping. I made it ahead and then bake it around kick off. Was great hot from the oven or later on too

  6. M says...

    This is probably a recurring question on every bean post, but as someone who loves all beans and would like to eat them every day but invariably encounters those infamous, powerful side effects… does Jenny or anyone else (ANYONE PLSSSSS HELP ME) have tips for cooking beans so that they are easier to digest?????

    • Denise says...

      Use a pressure cooker! Apparently pressure cookers can even make lentils, quinoa etc more digestible

    • Sarah says...

      Not sure about cooking methods, but as trite as it sounds, Beano really helps!!

    • K says...

      Hi M! As a vegetarian-Indian who cooks beans almost twice a week, I’d recommend getting a stove top pressure cooker. They aren’t too expensive, and help cook the beans well. You can get a 3 litre capacity one for a family of 2-3 or a smaller one if you’re mostly cooking for one person. I always soak the beans (overnight if I’m cooking during day, or just before leaving for work in morning if I’m cooking for dinner), and they are absolutely soft within 20 mins of cooking. I’d suggest checking an Indian grocery store for options. They usually stock pressure cookers and can recommend a size/brand.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      I find tinned beans to be better in this regard. I looked into it and discovered that it’s very difficult to properly cook dried beans in hard water, and the water is very hard in my area.

    • Anna says...

      Sprout the beans for about 3 days before cooking. Not only eliminates the need to…um…pass gas, but triples the vitamin C content! Sprouting is easy and takes very little time. Tons of articles on the Internet on how to. I use a canning jar quart or half-gallon. Cover the opening with cheesecloth.

    • Teryn says...

      This is late to the party, but apparently cooking the beans with kombu helps with digestion issues.

  7. Stephney says...

    Always love having large but casual get togethers. This recipe sounds right up our alley and will be giving it a go. Thanks for the ideas.

  8. I love this! I’ve been obsessed with no-frills, easy-to-put-together dinner ideas for a group. I recently did a chili bar, for example: https://feedingthesoil.com/2020/01/14/chili-bar-everything-for-a-cheap-and-easy-night/

    I find that the less-fuss the meal is at a get-together, the more intimate it feels. The casualness somehow makes it more welcoming and more like family. You strip away all the pretense, all the guards, and it’s just people being more human with each other.

    Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

  9. Mouse says...

    Everyone in Maine has their own recipe for baked beans and likes to tell you what it is. When I first met my husband he endeared himself to me by rattling off “his” ingredients. I must say he does make great beans, even better when made in an old wood-burning cookstove…..

  10. Jeff Mein says...

    So you delete comments you disagree with. How very entitled american. Shameful really.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh we don’t delete comments we disagree with! we just take a minute to moderate. yours is up!

    • Beth says...

      Dang dude, take a chill pill. You just insulted most of the readership here!

    • Anna says...

      Lol, that got out of hand fast.

    • Alli K Horst says...

      Joanna, thanks for showing us what gracious looks like on the internet.

    • Molly says...

      Guess you could apologize for your rudeness.

  11. Jeff Mein says...

    Also have to ask why kosher salt when you’re cooking pork which is non kosher?

    • Erin says...

      Kosher salt has bigger flakes and a different, less metallic taste than iodized table salt. Many non-kosher recipes call for it. Bon Appetit has a nice explainer with more info: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-kosher-salt

    • Molly says...

      I have a minimum of 7 different types of salt, each with their own purpose.

  12. Allison says...

    This looks delicious! Plant-based comfort foods can be hard to find, so I really want to try this (minus the bacon). Does it swing more sweet or tangy-sweet? In some of the baked bean recipes I’ve tried, the sugar really takes over.

  13. Amy says...

    These look similar to your Frank and Beans recipe and I make those regularly around here. I’ll be making these too!

    Also, I now make your kale salad and vinegrete dressing biweekly. Even the kids love it! (6 and 8…and the 8 year old is picky!) Thank you for making me feel accomplished! xo

    • Amy says...

      I love how badly I spelled vinaigrette 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      yes, that’s the recipe I’m referring to when I say it’s from my book! (Just minus the franks these days. :)

  14. Carole says...

    I live in a higher elevation (about 4600 feet above sea level) and wondering if I need to soak the beans overnight? Most recipes don’t indicate, and I usually have to find out the hard way. Please advise! I would love to make these on Sunday!!
    thanks :)

    • agnes says...

      I used to live in Mexico city (2500m above sea level), and would always soak the beans overnight and it would take a good hour to cook anyway. You should prepare them a day in advance, it’s always better reheated.

  15. Susannah says...

    I would just like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of an excellent fact about…FRITOS! Contrary to appearances, they only contain three ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt. So…they’re basically a vegetable.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      IF YOU SAY SO

    • Monica Lo says...

      Based off this comment alone, I already want to be bff with you! Haha

    • Elizabeth says...

      I’m with you, Susannah! I went snowshoeing recently in Idaho on a very cold day and our host packed Fritos as part of our lunch. Hadn’t eaten them since I was a kid and boy, did they hit the spot! I don’t care how un/healthy they are — I’m a believer and Fritos will be in my diet forevermore.

    • allison says...

      I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and this comment just sent me down a Frito-Lay rabbit hole and turns out that Fritos (and Cheetos!) are certified gluten-free. I never would have thought to look for that so thank you Susannah for this most excellent fact!! Can’t wait to eat all the Fritos!

    • Kelsey says...

      If you live near a Trader Joe’s their corn chips are SO GOOD – bigger and crunchier than Fritos. We always add them to our beans and rice and soups. Oh man now I want some :)

    • Gerry says...

      Alot of salt….
      Lol but its the SuperBowl 4get-about -it….enjoy🐣

  16. Yvonne says...

    You have activated my Fritos launch sequence. Drool.

  17. Sarah says...

    As a die-hard Kansas Citian who will be glued to the screen on Sunday, I loved this post and this recipe. I can’t wait to eat it (hopefully while I’m screaming TOOUUCHHHDOOWWWN CHIEFS!) :)

  18. agnes says...

    I have tried many recipes with frijoles/black beans, as my family is mexican, but I always end up with just cooking the beans! (after letting them soak the night before) . They are my Bridget Jones Beans, I love them just the way they are (beans, salt and pepper, that’s it).

    • Black beans over rice smothered n shrimp…or crawdeads…. & pecan pie…

  19. Aurora Rudder says...

    My husband does them in the Instant Pot all the time. They work great. Although I have never made them myself :-)

  20. anne says...

    Jenny is such a genius! Your girls are lucky to have you as your mom! Separately, and this is such a bizarre question, but I’ve been long obsessed with the font cup of jo uses (I’m a font nerd!) and can’t figure out which it is – would you mind sharing? I’d love it on my upcoming wedding invitations :)

    • Sarah says...

      I don’t think this is a perfect match, but the post title font is very close to Mrs. Eaves, which is what I used for my wedding invitations, paired with Landmark :)

    • Ari says...

      Looks like Karla? https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Karla

      (If you ever want to know this kind of information in the future, right click on a web page and click “View Page Source”. If seeing the code scares you, ignore the noise and search for “font”; you can find the information or stylesheet there. I’ve picked up a lot of cool fonts this way…:))

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, ari! i didn’t know the type offhand! and anne, how fun about your wedding invitations :)

    • SB says...

      Font nerds unite! Pretty sure they’re using Bodoni Classic for the headings. It’s not the same Bodoni that comes with the standard Word fonts.

  21. Lauren E. says...

    YUM! I struggle with Super Bowl meals because my husband’s friends will eat literally anything you put in front of them, so I never feel like I have enough food.

  22. Amy says...

    Looks so good!

  23. celeste says...

    My husband’s family calls these “calico beans” and I made them for him a couple of weeks ago. It’s a busy cooking week in our house – our school festival and cakewalk is on Friday – so I haven’t thought about Sunday – but my kids like to do apps we wouldn’t normally have, like Totino’s pizza rolls or eggrolls.

    Rooting for Demi, J-Lo, and the female offensive coordinator of SF.

    • Jessica says...

      Your last sentence made me smile :) That’s who I’m rooting for too!

    • Denise says...

      My family does a “calico beans” too. It’s basically just like this, but with a bunch of different bean shapes. Kidney, butter, garbanzo, lima beans etc… Great with cornbread and honey.

  24. Sara says...

    It’s 7am and I want to eat this RIGHT NOW!

  25. Lena says...

    How could dried beans be cooked in an hour? Should they soak overnight first? Or are they not really cooked and the six hours in the oven actually cooks them?

    • Maggie says...

      I think the hour on the stove is an alternative to the overnight soak.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      yes, the hour on the stove is a cheater version of soaking — I only ever do it for this recipe, strangely, but yes, rest assured the six hours in the oven cooks them nice and tender.

  26. Yes! This reminds me of my chili/cornbread get togethers. SO easy!!! I always use Jiff and simply add fun things into the mix: jalapenos, scallions, and grated cheese.

    Leftovers are great for lunch the next day.

  27. Rachel says...

    I bet this would convert well to the Instant Pot – just not sure how to do that. Anyone have any ideas?

    • maryann says...

      Ditto!

    • Rachel says...

      Hey Jenny –

      Any direction for how to convert this for pressure cookers? Sounds like it would work well!

      Rachel