Smoky Maple Baked Beans


I’ve been cooking beans from scratch frequently lately. They’re such a healthy, hearty and inexpensive protein. Plus, baby loves them. When it comes to dried beans, quality – especially freshness – matters. Old beans will never get soft. I usually by mine from a health food store, where I know there is particularly high turnover.

I was super psyched when I discovered a pound and a half of gorgeous heritage cannellini beans in my last Besh Box.


I never thought I’d be a subscription box person, but this particular box, curated personally by chef John Besh, is really, seriously fun. It’s like getting a monthly christmas stocking stuffed by a chef Santa. So much excitement the day it arrives! It would make a fantastic gift that keeps giving for someone special.


I couldn’t wait to simmer the beans in a sweet-smoky-tangy sauce, and went straight to work baking Oatmeal Brown Bread to go alongside. Soft, thick, bacon-y baked beans and warm, buttered bread – ultimate comfort food, don’t you think?

Keep in mind that the beans require a good, long soak before cooking – I usually soak them overnight before I plan to cook them. Also, a secret to successful bean cookery – boil to desired tenderness without any salt or acidic ingredients, or they will take forever to become soft.

The lemon juice might seem redundant with all the vinegar in the sauce, but I really recommend not omitting it – the splash of citrus brightness really boosts the end flavour.

Thank you, Chef Besh for the lovely surprises (like fresh pecans, plump vanilla beans, fragrant oregano, jalapeño seeds (!), gorgeous kitchen towels, bench scrapers…) every month!

Not a sponsored post, but in the interest of full disclosure, they offered me a sample box to see what I thought, and I asked them to pleasepleaseplease keep coming.

Smoky Maple Baked Beans
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Note that beans require an 8 hour soak before cooking.
  • 1½ lbs cannellini beans
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped in ¼" pieces
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups pureed canned tomatoes (aka passata)
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp kosher salt (or 1½ tsp table salt), approx.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. In a large stockpot, cover beans with two inches of water and let soak at least 8 hours. Drain soaking water, discard, and cover again with 2 inches of fresh water. Bring beans to a boil over high heat; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook, covered, for 1 to 1½ hours, until the beans are as soft as you like them (they won't soften much more in the sauce).
  2. About halfway through the beans' cooking time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brown bacon in a large dutch oven medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add onions to the bacon fat and cook until tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it becomes a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Stir in pureed tomatoes, maple syrup, vinegar, paprika and cooked beans; stir well and season to taste with salt. Transfer to preheated oven and bake, uncovered, about 1 hour, until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in lemon juice.
  • lynneux

    Thank you for this recipe! My last attempt at ‘baked beans’ ended horribly and after reading this I now see why: I had soaked the beans overnight, but didn’t boil them afterwards! Silly me, I thought they would cook and soften in the sauce while they baked. Cut to 4+ hours of baking later and all we had was a pot of really burnt, hard beans and some very sad, hungry football fans. Can’t wait to try this over the weekend now that I’ve seen the error of my ways ;)

  • Sara Struckman

    I recently returned to dry beans after taking a long hiatus. I love have them on hand and whipping something up on the fly (sort of – there is the soak time to consider). This recipe looks amazing. And I just picked up a bag of white beans a week ago. Meant to be? I think so.

  • foodess

    Sara Struckman  Woohoo! Love when it’s meant to be :)

  • foodess

    lynneux  Oh no! Hungry football fans are the saddest :(  Hope these turn out perfectly for you!

  • Meaghan Fowler

    I made these last night and they were delicious! I made them with my mom’s bread recipe. You’re right, ultimate comfort food :)

  • Tiffany

    Ooooooh I LOVE baked beans.  I appreciate the Canadian touch too, with maple.  Can’t wait to try! xx

  • Louisa

    I made these for Sunday supper and the whole family loved them – thanks for another great recipe!

  • lynneux

    foodess They were great! The only thing was that we found them a bit too sweet. Do different grades of maple syrup vary in sweetness? I used some Grade B syrup. I think if I made these again I’d dial it back to 1/2 cup, possibly less. Otherwise lovely–and you’re right, the lemon added at the end was the perfect touch :)

  • foodess

    lynneux Maple syrups don’t really vary in sweetness, just in how much flavour they have. You can definitely reduce the amount… I just like them on the sweet side!

  • Mike

    We made these with dinner tonight and they were awesome! Thanks for the recipe!