Putting a pot of beans in the slow cooker overnight is a great way to cook a meal and have it ready the next day, and it’s also a good way to get the kids to help make the meal, too. Our son Hockey Guy, 9 years old, helped make a pot of Boston baked beans that cooked in the slow cooker, then we put them in the refrigerator and saved them for another day and reheated them in the slow cooker and they tasted even better after another couple hours of cooking.
Traditional Boston baked beans are cooked on low in the oven while covered for about eight hours, then you remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to brown the bacon and the top of the beans. With the slow cooker method you won’t get the same kind of browning, but you can achieve something similar by removing the lid for the last 30 minutes and allow some of the liquid to cook off. Serve with Boston brown bread or brown rice and a salad and you have a complete meal.
Here’s how to make it, as demonstrated by Hockey Guy.
After soaking and simmering the beans, slice the bacon (or salt pork if you can find it) and chop the onions. We used pork jowl bacon this time.
Put the onions and half the bacon in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour the soaked beans in on top.
Sprinkle the rest of the bacon on top of the beans.
Stir together the molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, and pepper, and pour it all over the beans and bacon, then pour in two cups of boiling water. Put on the lid and cook on low for 8 hours, then remove the lid for the last 30 minutes or so to allow the liquid to cook down some before serving.
Make sure to visit The Kids Cook Monday for more recipes to cook with your kids.
How Adults Can Help the Kids
- Demonstrate and assist with any tasks that might be new: measuring, stirring, pouring, chopping.
- Assign the simpler tasks, such as rinsing the beans and measuring the ingredients for the molasses mixture to the younger kids, and save the more challenging tasks for the older kids and adults.
- Make sure an adult is present at all times.
- Young children should not handle sharp knives alone. Make sure an adult or older child or teenager supervises, or does the chopping.
Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
- large pot with lid (for soaking beans)
- 4-quart slow cooker
- 16 ounces dry navy beans (rinsed well and picked over)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 8 ounces salt pork (or bacon, diced)
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- ⅓ cup unsulphured molasses
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups boiling water
- In the large pot, cover the navy beans with water and allow to soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain and cover with fresh water and add the baking soda. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the beans. (Quick soak method: Cover the beans with water, add the soda, and boil for 3 minutes. Then set aside tightly covered for 1 hour. Drain well.)
- Put half of the diced salt pork or bacon and all of the diced onion in the bottom of the slow cooker pot, then add the drained beans. Sprinkle the rest of the salt pork/bacon around the top of the beans. Stir together the molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, and pepper, and pour it on top of the beans. Pour in 2 cups of boiling water and cover. Cook on low for 8 hours and remove the lid for the last 30 minutes or so to allow the liquid to condense a little before serving.
More Cooking with Kids Recipes
For the complete list of The Kids Cook Monday recipes, visit my Cooking with Kids page.
Wow those look great. I could sure use some now in cold and rainy Newport, Rhode Island
the wicked noodle says
These baked beans sound great on this cold winter day. Hockey Guy did a great job!
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
Nothing more satisfying (for kids or adults) than putting some simple ingredients in the slow cooker, and creating something that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
I bet you have such fun doing these recipes with the guys!
Thanks Miguel. These would have made a good New England meal.
Thanks Kristy. Hockey Guy was pretty proud of himself. 🙂
I agree Lydia, I love how such simple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.
Kalyn, you are right, we do have a lot of fun making these dishes together. 🙂
Kristina Hudson says
I just found this recipe on Foodgawker and it looks fabulous! I definitely want to make this, but I was wondering about the bacon. It seems that regular bacon is fattier than the jowl you used and the recommended salt pork. Would I need to render the bacon, at least partially, before adding it to the slow cooker to avoid oil slicks on top of the finished baked beans?
Hi Kristina. The jowl we use isn't very fatty, so it doesn't leave an oil slick on top. I've used bacon, salt pork, and jowl, and never had a problem.
Jim S. says
My mother's baked beans were never sweet like these recipes. The salt pork always made the beans salty without adding salt. She never added brown sugar and just enough molasses to give the beans the traditional brown color. The result was a delicious baked bean that was very similar to the Mexican refried beans minus their blandness. I use my mother's recipe in place of refried beans. It is so much tastier.