Gluten-Free Sassy Molasses Baked Beans

Servings: 8-10 serving(s)

Prep time: 12 hours

Total time: 16 hours

Cooking time: 4 hours

An old fashioned recipe for molasses baked beans with loads of flavour and lovely texture. (Classic taste — no tomato or ketchup.) 

Molasses baked beans with loads of flavour.

This is the molasses baked beans recipe that I grew up with. Mom usually made baked beans for Saturday supper, along with a loaf of oatmeal brown bread. Molasses baked beans are cold weather comfort food, perfect for fall and winter, for supper or alongside fried eggs at breakfast.

Molasses baked beans with loads of flavour.

It so happens that this recipe reminds me of the Ground Hog Gale of 1976. The Groundhog Gale, was a massive nor’easter that hit our region on February 2nd, Groundhog Day.

As an eight year old it was thrilling. Off we walked to our neighbourhood elementary school in a heavy breeze and pelted with rain. Before recess we could see garbage cans being blown down the street and before lunchtime we were told that school was closing due to the storm and we were all to go home. Most of us walked to school, so out into the gale we went to make our way home.

It was the most thrilling walk of my life. With the wind at our backs we were tossed along the rain coated ice like it was some kind of high-speed carnival ride. We were blown into puddles, and hung onto trees to catch our breath. We screamed in delight and took the long way home to prolong the fun.

Winds were clocked at over 140 km per hour and there were reports that salt spray from the Bay of Fundy was found on homes more than 10 km inland. I’m sure we were home before it got that bad but still…My poor mom hadn’t even been notified that school was closed.

Molasses baked beans

Baked beans are the sort of satisfying meal that helps you weather February storms. The long baking time keeps the kitchen cozy (although they can be baked in a slow cooker) and leftovers can be eaten with breakfast.

While the beans are baking you can can start a batch of oatmeal brown bread

oatmeal molasses brown bread - an easy recipe for beginners

I grew up with this molasses baked beans recipe, which was adapted from a recipe in The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book. It has a bit of a bite from the pepper (that’s the sass) to balance the sweetness and develops an amazing depth of flavour. Enjoy these baked beans with oatmeal brown bread , Sarah’s Brown Bread or cracked wheat brown bread. 

Do you have an Instant Pot? Try our easy recipe for “Baked Beans” in the Instant Pot


Gluten-Free Sassy Molasses Baked Beans

Molasses baked beans

An old fashioned recipe for baked beans with lots of flavour and lovely texture. (Classic taste — no tomato or ketchup.) Freeze for up to three months.

  • Author: Bridget Oland
  • Cook Time: 4-6 hours
  • Total Time: 20 minute
  • Category: Savoury Dishes


  • 2 cups dried navy or pea beans
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried mustard
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice of bacon, chopped or 1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • Boiling water


  1. Soak 2 cups of dried navy or white beans in water overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the skins break when you blow on them).
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  4. Drain the beans and put them in a large ovenproof pot or bean crock. Bury peeled onion in the middle of the beans.
  5. Mix together and pour over the beans: brown sugar, molasses, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Dab with the butter or oil, or sprinkle bacon pieces, overtop.
  6. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover the beans.
  7. Cover the pot and cook for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary so the beans do not dry out. Take the lid off for the last half hour of cooking.


Add half a peeled apple to the mixture along with the onion for an added layer of flavour.

Try adding left over molasses baked beans to your next batch of chili.

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Keywords: baked beans; molasses baked beans; Boston baked beans

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75 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Sassy Molasses Baked Beans

  1. Danielle says:


    I have a question for you,
    the last time a make some bean, very good,
    and 3 days..
    whas rot, in my refrigerator,…

    I follow the recip,and ont no y not good at all..

    thank you…

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Danielle,
      Baked beans should last more than three days in the fridge, so I’m not sure what went wrong with your recipe. If there is meat in the recipe they won’t last as long.

    2. Monique says:

      Maybe it was just the butter that hardened in the beans or the fat from the bacon, not rote.

  2. Maggie says:

    My aunt used to use yellow or brown eyed beans for this, made for a nice change. I myself add a few drops or hot sauce to my bowl! And, they taste pretty good cold plopped on top of a green salad for lunch the next day!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Maggie, THanks for the suggestion to add a bit of hot sauce. Sounds like a delicious addition. I love them cold too!

  3. monica bourque says:

    I have been making baked beans with molasses for many years, and my mother before me, this recipe is almost like mine except I use olive oil instead of bacon or fat pork, my husband loves them.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Monica, Like you I never use meat in my recipe, although the original recipe calls for 1/4 lb of fat salt pork! I might try olive oil next time.

      1. Sheila Whitten says:

        How much olive oil?

        1. Hi Sheila, You could substitute olive oil for the tablespoon of butter, although the butter adds a bit of flavour.

  4. Sheila says:

    I triple my recipe and then I can freeze in batches also this is the time for homemade bread/biscuts. Ham and coleslaw.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Great suggest. I’m going to do that next time since we love leftovers but never seem to have any.

    2. Judy says:

      I put my beans in mason jars and bath them down for 5 minutes, will last for months and don’t dry out like in the freezer? Just like opening a can of juicey beans.

      1. Sheree says:

        Judy please pressure can your beans at 11 pounds pressure for 90 minutes. These are a low acid food and are not safe canned per your instructions. I can alot though and thank you for the idea. I will try some myself and see how they come out!

  5. Baked brown beans are a strong favourite childhood memory for me, too… and I have a similar memory of walking through a storm, but I was in junior high – but could relate to that feeling and it brought me right back to my old family home table – warm and cozy, with the storm raging outside. Home was always such a safe place. I love that feeling. So, these baked beans look heavenly… yet my mom always made pork and beans… always… there wasn’t much pork to eat in the bowl, but the flavour of smoky bacon was strong and prevalent, so I know that more than one piece of bacon was used in her recipe. Reading all the comments here, it is time to make my own. Never have.

    1. Margaret E. says:

      I had lost my usual recipe for baked beans and this looked closest to the way I usually make them so I made this in my crock pot today and added about half a pound of bacon ends from my favorite butcher shop. I used black eye beans and they were lovely! To me, you have to add the bacon!

      1. Bridget Oland says:

        Hi Margaret, Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Yes, bacon adds great flavour :)

  6. Lorraine says:

    Hi there;
    I have the beans waiting for me when I get home tonight; made them in the slow cooker on low and added just a bit more water to accommodate this method of cooking. Can’t wait! The recipe has more sugar than my usual one so will let you know how it goes. I am sure the family will love it. Beans and fish cakes; yumm, should chase away the winter blues.

    1. Hi Lorraine, Lucky you to have baked beans waiting at home. I’m wishing I had the same but I do have navy beans soaking on the counter so that’ll be my supper tomorrow night. Fish cakes alongside sounds delicious, must give it a try.

  7. Nancy says:

    I plan on making these this weekend! I’ve been craving homemade beans and the weather is just right here in New Brunswick! :)

  8. Rod McFarlane says:

    Bridget I remember that particular storm very well! I lived in the Annapolis valley at the time and because of the freezing rain our home was without power for 7 days! I soaked Jacob Cattle beans last night. Going to try your recipe today and as previously suggested with fish cakes, an original Saturday evening family meal. Watching Wild World of Sports…

    1. Heather says:

      I too remember that storm… or one like it. I was maybe 4 or 5 I think and the power was out for almost 2 weeks where we lived in the Annapolis Valley. It was the greatest adventure ever because all 5 of us slept on our mattresses on the kitchen floor nestled warmly around our propane kitchen stove.
      I just found this recipe today, 4 years and 5 days after it was posted! ;) I plan to make it Saturday night for supper.
      I’ve never made homemade baked beans before… this should be fun!

  9. Hi Bridget I make a baked bean recipe it has half a cup of tomatoe sauce added extra to your recipe also a ham shank and I add some small pork spare ribs. cook overnight on the slowest heat with a folded towel over the whole container (tradition) and the next morning I can not wait to eat. I am so glad I found your lovely website Crosby’s

    1. Hi Marilyn, Your adaptations sound delicious! Thanks for sharing. Reminds me that I really must get myself a slow cooker.

  10. Danny Rasch says:

    Bridget that reciept is almost like ours except we use yellow eyed beans and fat salt pork and no pepper this has been our reciept passed down for generations, as far as them not lasting long because of the added meat they are usally gone the next day anyway. I live in Edmonton now and baking some beans right now for supper I think I will try the pepper that you suggest in your reciept. I do remember that storm walking home that day from school was fun I lived in Saint John at the time and like your mom my Mother was also not aware of the school closing early

    1. Hi Danny, This has definitely been a baked beans winter on the East Coast. Funny that you recall the Groundhog Gale too. (I think this winter has been as memorable as the winter of ’76.)

  11. Barney says:

    Last year I went looking for a recipe and found yours.I recognize the molasses brand and after reading your story I figured I would try it.I loved the baked beans we used to eat growing up and I missed having them so I decided to give it a try. They turned out great and I make them at least twice a month.I usually make a large batch and they last a few days. My only change is I use more bacon and it is great.

    1. I Barney, I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the baked beans recipe. The old recipes always seem to be the best.

    2. Sue clark says:

      Can I do these in a slow cooker?

      1. Hi Sue, I haven’t made this recipe in a slow cooker, but you could try on low, keeping a close eye on the liquid so the beans don’t dry out.

  12. Deb says:

    I also remember that Gale. Am I dating myself?;-) These beans remind of the ones my Nan made. Haven’t had them in years. They sound delicious.

  13. Sheilagh says:

    I use pinto beans and reduce the sugar. Also instead of water I whiz a jar of home canned tomatoes. Hubby loves them!

    1. Hi Sheilagh, Love the idea of adding the home canned tomatoes. It must add great texture and flavour. Thanks for the suggestion.

  14. Carol Longue MacDonald says:

    Can you do the beans in the slow cooker with this recipe?

    1. Hi Carol, Yes, this recipe can be adapted to the slow cooker. I have been told they should be cooked on low.

    2. Norman Albert says:

      I use the slow cooker and the beans turn out great. The don’t seem to last very long
      I also remember the Groundhog day Storm the lasted a lot longer then a day. We were city center in out new home and without power for about 10 days. Coleman heaters in the basement well ventilated but kept us from freezing.

      1. Lynn Purdy says:

        I’m glad to hear that the beans do well in the slow cooker. I’m happy that you managed to stay warm.

  15. Laurie Zruna says:

    This is such a great baked beans recipe. I have been making them for many years with yellow eyed beans in my slow cooker. I always have a couple of ham steaks in my freezer that I can dice up in the beans to add great flavour! Recently I have been adding about 1/4 cup Beer and Chipotle BBQ sauce with the other ingredients…..yum! At the beginning of 2015 our youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes so I am always looking for ways to cut sugar from recipes….but there is no replacement that I am aware of for Crosby’s molasses! It always invokes such comforting memories of growing up in PEI,NS and NB! I have beans soaking now as I write this. And we love ours with what my Mum called Johnny Cake … with butter and what else? Crosby’s Molasses!

    1. Dear Laurie, Such great stories. Thanks for sharing. I love your suggestion to add BBQ sauce to the beans for a change. I too grew up eating Johnny cake — it was always a favourite.

  16. Ester Baker-Duggan says:

    This is a great recipe which I use with variations. I omit meat and add a few drops of liquid smoke instead, also sometimes I substitute the brown sugar and use maple syrup instead. A couple of Tbs. BBQ sauce is a good add as well. Baked beans were a once a week staple during my childhood years and always with homemade bread!

    1. Hi Ester, Thanks for all of the suggestions. Your variations sounds delicious.

  17. Nancy Teed says:

    Just put a pot of these babies in the oven! This is my go-to bean recipe. We absolutely love them! I do make a couple of slight changes which are I chop the onion and mix it in and also I chop a couple of peeled apples and mix in as well. The basically melt into the sauce and I really like it. I also add more pepper – just our preference and a bay leaf while cooking. Although when I first starting making this recipe, I followed the recipe exactly and then starting adjusting a bit. I usually take half the cooked beans and then make my chili out of it. AWESOME! :D Thanks for all your great posts and recipes! :D

    1. Thanks Nancy. I love the suggestion to add apples. I must give that a try.

  18. margie scott says:

    Trying this for my first time!! Hope all goes well !! Look like my Mom made !!

  19. Gary South says:

    I love this recipe but I make these beans all in the same day. I’ve found if you boil the beans for 20-25 minutes as you suggest and let them stand in the boiled water for another 10 minutes they bake up quite nicely in about 4 hours using a dutch oven.
    Like Nancy I add an apple but this is in place of the brown sugar. I also use 2 slices of turkey bacon otherwise I follow your recipe. They’re with fish cakes or toutons and molasses.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Gary!

  20. Donna says:

    I,d love to make the oatmeal bread to go with the beans do you have the recipe!

    1. Hi, Donna! Here is the recipe for the oatmeal bread:

  21. Jennifer Moore says:

    I enjoyed reading your memories of the Ground Hog Gail! I was in grade 1 and living on the West Side when the storm hit Saint John. My Dad made baked beans with Crosby’s molasses and I am excited to try your recipe!

  22. Doug Turner says:

    Ms. Oland

    An excellent recipe. Reminds me of my mother’s baked beans she used to make for New Year’s Eve.. One small modification gives a bit of piquancy. I add to the mixture over the beans about 1/2 cup of our home made chili sauce -commercial will do. . My mother used catsup, which works well.also.

    Doug Turner in Victoria B.C.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Doug, That’s a great suggestion. Thanks.

  23. Carol Arnold says:

    This recipe sounds Yum! Haven’t made baked beans that often but think this recipe will help me try them more often. I lived throug the “Groundhog Day Storm” too. We were very fortunate to have wood furnace and a Kemac(SP?) kitchen stove. Neighbours came for heat, hot coffee, and things cooked on kitchen stove. A good memory also, NO SCHOOL ;-)
    This winter reminds me of that winter, only difference is Generator, and not alot of neighbors needing help. No baked beans in freezer, but will have for the rest of winter.
    Thank you for memories and yummy, easy looking recipe!

  24. Cornelius Kenny says:

    Hi Bridget, (love the name, same as my great-grandmother)
    How exactly would you sub the salt fat pork. That’s what my mother used but I wasn’t particularly interested in watching her cook baked beans when I was growing up. Too bad.

    1. Hi Cornelius, Sorry I’m so late replying to your message. If you want to use salt pork you can just bury it in the beans before baking, along with the onion.

  25. Nancy Wisteard says:

    Love baked beans and grew up with them as a staple for Saturday night supper with brown bread. I use diced pancetta and no-fat low-sodium chicken stock in lieu of water.

    1. Hi Nancy, Great suggestions. Those additions must add wonderful flavour.

  26. Judy says:

    I put my beans in mason jars and bath them down for 5 minutes, will last for months and don’t dry out like in the freezer? Just like opening a can of juicey beans.


    1. Lynn Purdy says:

      Judy, that is a great way to preserve beans. I am sure they do not dry out, but if you package beans well enough in the freezer, they should not dry out. Thank you for sharing your method. Happy Holidays.

  27. ELLEN BONNELL says:

    These are delicious. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Lynn Purdy says:

      Ellen, so very happy that you enjoyed the recipe. They are good with that extra kick of pepper.

  28. Carol Maloney says:

    Is it possible to use this recipe in an instant pot?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Carol, Yes, this recipe is great in an instant pot! You just have the play with the time and water ratio. I’ll post my instant pot version later this week.

  29. Robb. says:

    Sounds much like a family recipe i do. But i use tomato juice to replace the water to cover the beans…It’s delicious.

  30. Pat says:

    My grandmother (born 1880) grew up in Ct. This was her exact recipe with one exception. She used salt pork instead of bacon. It was a frequent dish, especially when times were difficult as it provided good nourishment for the family.
    I still make it quite often but I use a slow cooker.
    It’s part of my “Yankee” heritage. Thanks for including it.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Pat, I love how the best old recipes just keep making the rounds. And I’m sure salt pork was the standard way back.

  31. Wayne Lind says:

    Have been making much the same recipe as my Grand Mother was in the 1800’s.
    Love Molasses. When ever I use it I treat myself to a spoonful. Now because of your email, I now have to make some backed beans. Having pet pigs I now use turkey bacon.
    Thank you for all the recipes.
    Nakusp, British Columbia

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Wayne, Isn’t it wonderful to have old time recipes that never go out of style.

  32. Diane Holmes says:

    I make these beans regularly they are delicious, I always make them with cornbread. One change I make is I use the brown sugar blend its half brown sugar and half Splenda just to lower the sugar for my husband. I love the story about the storm and I re read it every time I make the beans. I add more Bacon as well.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Diane, Great tip for people who have to watch their sugar intake. Thanks.

  33. Beth Budd says:

    I used cooking molasses and the flavor is too strong. Is there a way to tone done the flavor.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Beth, The only way I can think of to tone down the flavour of the cooking molasses is to add some brown sugar. However, that might make your beans too sweet. (Another option is to play with adding a little tomato sauce or ketchup.)

  34. Wayne Stephen says:

    I made a batch of these this week. I used 3/4 tablespoon of butter and cubed up some of smoked ham. I baked for 4.5 hours. Like my beans a little juicy so I didn’t bake uncovered to darken and thicken them. Along with the onion I put in 1 clove of garlic.
    What fantastic recipe. My lovely wife and I agree; These are the best molasses bake beans we’ve ever tasted. Two thumbs up.

  35. Rick says:

    Just waiting to have this for dinner. I basically use the above reciprocity a couple of little things….white pepper, shoulder pork chop x 2, and Dijon mustard, instead of dry mustard. Using the boiled water, 2 cups or so, I combine the ingrediants, stirring which seems easier for spreading over the beans. Works very well!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Rick, Wow, you really turned this recipe into a full meal. Thanks for sharing your version.

  36. Claude Ménard says:

    I love beans, and make a lot for my old father. But a question: the dry mustard brings what in this recipe? Thanks for the answer. God bless!

  37. Lisa tolbert says:

    Hi. Making your lovely recipe for my Nova Scotian mother tonight. Made the oatmeal molasses bread yesterday. We look forward to going down memory lane tonight in NC. God bless!

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