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Sweet and savory, these Slow Cooker New England Baked Beans make the perfect side dish for any summer bbq.

New England Baked Beans

This is the 3rd installment of this month’s Cookbook of the Month – we’ve done the soup, the main, and now it’s time for the side dish. There were so many tasty ones to choose from, but I ended up going with the New England Baked Beans for one main reason. We don’t eat a ton at dinner. We are more likely to eat a big lunch and then just a small dinner. I knew that by making a whole big side dish, I wouldn’t want to also make a huge main entree, because we would end up with tons of leftovers! So I picked these beans, thinking we could eat them as the main meal.

The one complaint I have with this cookbook is that it is not very specific. This recipe calls for dried white beans, a couple apples, and a couple pears. So I’m at the grocery store, looking at the dried beans, and I realize I have no idea which kind of white bean works best for this recipe. I close my eyes and choose one – ending up with Great Northern beans. As far as the apples and pears went, I just chose what looked the best that day. I find it funny that the recipe specifically calls for a yellow onion, but doesn’t even give suggestions as to which kind of white beans to use. After I had already started the recipe, I decided to do some online research. I obviously haven’t had baked beans in quite some time! I did a search to find what beans work best for baked beans, and I discover that navy beans are suggested. I realized right then that I might have a problem, because navy beans are smaller than Great Northern beans. The recipe says to cook the beans in the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours, and I had set the timer for 7 hours. The 7 hours were up at this point, and the slow cooker was just on warm, so I rushed into the kitchen and turned the slow cooker to high, knowing that we should be eating in an hour, and that my beans would not be softened completely because they were bigger. I was right. Even after turning the heat to high, the beans were not soft like they should have been. I would definitely suggest going with the navy beans, or plan on cooking this longer than 7 hours!!

This recipe says it serves 4, but as a side dish, I would think it would serve 8-10 at least. It probably would have served 6 of us as a main dish! I also wouldn’t suggest serving this as a main meal. It is quite sweet. I think they would go perfectly along side a good hamburger or a bbq sandwich at your summer picnic. But they are a bit too sweet to be served alone. Plus, you will disappoint your significant other when he finds out that all he is getting for dinner is beans!!

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New England Baked Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Sweet and savory, these Slow Cooker New England Baked Beans make the perfect side dish for any summer bbq.
Serves: 8-10 as a side dish
  • 2 thick hickory-smoked bacon slices
  • 1 pound dried white beans (I suggest navy!), thoroughly rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 apples, cored, peeled and sliced*
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced**
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Place a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning, until crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and chop.
  2. Place the beans in the slow cooker and add the bacon, water, cider, onion, molasses, maple syrup, ginger, mustard, and cloves. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the apples and pears and cook for about 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon and saute for another 5 minutes.
  4. When the liquid is almost evaporated from the slow cooker, place the fruit mixture on top of the beans and continue cooking for about 40 minutes, until the flavors are melded.
  5. Divide evenly in bowls and serve at once.
source: Gourmet Slow Cooker Volume II

I didn’t leave my apples in full slices, but half slices. I think it worked better this way to make smaller bites so you don’t get too much fruit in each bite.

*Same thing as the apple slices, but I also wasn’t paying attention and peeled my pears, too, even though it didn’t say to. It still worked.

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20 Responses to New England Baked Beans {Cookbook of the Month Recipe}

  1. Emiline says:

    I’ve never heard of putting fruit in baked beans. Is that common? I’m just used to the baked beans my parents make; they open some cans, put the beans in a dish, and bake them. Ha ha.

    I bet these would be good, since they’re made from scratch.

  2. Rachel says:

    I’ve found that even when crocking beans, they turn out best (soft and tender) if you soak them overnight in water and then cook on high for at least 6 hours and sometimes it takes as long as 8 hours.

  3. Mary says:

    Your beans are pretty anyway! The fruit in them sounds interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had them that way.

  4. Susan from Food Blogga says:

    Oh, wow, New England baked beans used to be one of my all-time favorite dishes when I was a kid in RI. The sweet sugar and the salty bacon were addictive. I may have to revisit them as an adult. They’re still making me salivate.

  5. AngiePangie says:

    I’ve never had great luck with beans from scratch in my crock, either. They do tend to do a lot better if I soak them overnight, though (8 hours is the limit, though, you don’t want mush).

    I think I’m going to try this recipe this summer, I haven’t found the “just right” baked bean recipe yet. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I’m sorry your were a bit crunch-tastic. I hate it when that happens!!

  6. Shandy says:

    Yum! I absolutely love Baked Beans and I have only made these once BUT I have never heard of apples and pears in them before? What did you think of the fruit included? I want to try the recipe and I know I’ll like it since I LOVE fruit anyways =D

  7. White On Rice Couple says:

    I was in the same boat as emiline. We knew baked beans as the ones in the can with the pork as the “little piece of fat floating on top”. I’ll have to try these ones from scratch so that I can rid of the bad childhood memories for good!

  8. kellypea says:

    We love beans around here, but I’ve never made them in my crock pot. I’ve definitely never added fruit to them…pretty interesting. I like the idea of the sweetness coming from fruit, though — and the vinegar for tartness. YUM.

  9. glamah16 says:

    I did baked beans a while ago in the slow cooker. Didnt post about it because I didnt like the meat I added into it.Your twist is great because I would never have thought of incoporating apples and pears.I find cookin the beans in the pot is a great way to go.

  10. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    I haven’t had baked beans in ages, and I’ve never made them from scratch. I usually just doctor up some canned beans and bake them. I’m impressed!

  11. KJ says:

    I can sympathise. I’ve tried making baked beans a few time and have never had much success. I’ve never heard of putting fruit in it though. Very original!

  12. Peabody says:

    Well, 2 strips of bacon is not nearly enough! I use like a pound. 🙂

  13. Dhanggit says:

    oh i love this! baked beans with apples and pears i bet it must be delicious!! btw i remember having trouble too choosing the right beans for savory dishes i ended up buying beans for dessert 🙂

  14. Bellini Valli says:

    I think it is very British to have beans on toast..which we used to have most Friday nights growing up 😀

  15. Tammy says:

    Hi Deborah

    I have tagged you for a meme. Go to http://weetreatsbytammy.blogspot.com/2008/02/its-all-about-me.html and please ignore if you have already been tagged


  16. Cookie baker Lynn says:

    This looks great. I am always disappointed to look at baked beans recipes and find their main ingredient is a can of baked beans. What’s up with that?? Hooray for a real recipe using real dried beans!

  17. Cakelaw says:

    Hi Deborah, these beans do look sweet, but delicious. I think I could eat the quite happily as a dessert!

  18. Cakespy says:

    This takes me back to New England winters staying with my aunt! Nice recipe!

  19. Kevin says:

    These baked beans sound really good. I like the use of the apples and pears in them.

  20. Elle says:

    Never thought to put pears in baked beans…I’d heard of apples though. Sounds like a great side dish for a cookout or picnic…love the slow cooker. I think that there didn’t used to be so many choices in types of beans available in the supermarket 30 years ago or so. Pears, too…mostly it was Bartlettes.

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