Basic Beans in the Oven (With Variations)

Prep Time
Cook Time
3h 20m
Ready In

"This versatile recipe has been a standby in our kitchen for many years because it cooks without tending -- no stirring, no watching to add extra liquid -- much like a slow cooker, but in less time. We use it to cook navy beans, butter beans, pinto beans, small red beans, kidney beans, and black eyed peas to use as a side dish or turn into a soup. Changing the seasonings yields a Southwestern dish and adding more liquid produces a comforting soup. This is just the "starter" recipe. Vary it to fit the occasion or your mood."

Original recipe yields 8 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (401 g)
  • Calories 427.1
  • Total Fat - 38.9 g
  • Saturated Fat - 4.8 g
  • Cholesterol - 15 mg
  • Sodium - 375.8 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 13 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 4 g
  • Sugars - 0.8 g
  • Protein - 12.6 g
  • Calcium - 51.2 mg
  • Iron - 1.5 mg
  • Vitamin C - 2.8 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.8 mg

Step 1

Reconstituting the beans: Either soak the beans overnight in water to cover (10 cups) or bring them to a boil, let them boil for 2-3 minutes, cover and let stand off of the heat for 1 hour. Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans.

Step 2

Return the beans to a large dutch oven and add 8 cups of hot water, the ham bone, the crushed peppercorns, garlic, and onion. Cooking the beans with salt will toughen the skins, so salt it later, before serving.

Step 3

Bake, covered, at 325 degrees for 3-4 hours. Check the tenderness of the beans at 3 hours and continue cooking if necessary.The beans should be soft but still retain their shape.

Step 4

Remove from the oven and stir in room temperature cooked ham. Add salt if necessary and adjust seasonings to taste. Reheat briefly if necessary. Flavors will develop fully if the beans are cooled and refrigerated overnight, and they freeze admirably.

Step 5

Serve it with cornbread, toasted slices of french or Italian bread, or warmed bolillos (a small, crusty Mexican baguette). Add a green salad and you've got a full meal.

Step 6

For Southwestern Pintos: Start with the basic recipe, using pinto beans, and add 1 can Ro*tel tomatoes, 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (crushed), 1 tablespoon celery flakes or 2 ribs of celery, diced. If you need to substitute, Ro*tel tomatoes are basically stewed tomatoes with jalapenos.

Step 7

For "Senate Bean Soup": Start with the basic recipe, using navy beans, but increase the water to 10-12 cups. Start with 10 cups and add more to find the consistency you want. Add 2 carrots, diced, 1 tablespoon celery flakes or 2 ribs of celery, diced, 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce.

Step 8

The recipe doubles or triples easily and freezes well. Make a pot for your family and one for a friend or neighbor. Garnish servings with sliced scallions or chopped parsley, or add grated cheese or a spoonful of sour cream to the top.

Tips & Variations

No special items needed.



Made up some delicious kidney beans using this recipe. I just used a large onion and salt and pepper. Used the technique rather than the recipe and they came out perfect! I served them with some raw onion on top at serving time and about 1 teaspoon of ketchup mixed in. Had with Saturday night hot dogs and it brought us back to happy childhood times!

review by:
(13 Jul 2018)


These are divine!!! I made them with the Southwestern variation and was very happy with the end result. They were enjoyed by all. I only needed 6 cups of water. Made for the Alphabet Soup Recipe Tag Game.

review by:
(3 Sep 2012)

Derf "RIP" Forever in our Kitchen

OH MY !! it has been years since i made "real" baked beans, this recipe bought back the "how", sooo happy I did them, they were a little bit of heaven! I used the overnight soak method and opted for the Southwestern pinto and i used a smoked ham hock, stuck in the middle of the beans for 5 1/2 hours, gave them a wonderful smoky hamilicious flavour. Didn't have to add any salt at all, the ham did it for us; the cumin and oregano are a lovely combination. Can't get Rotel tomatoes here, so i used stewed tomatoes and added a touch of cayenne, just enough for a mild bite. Used 2 - 14oz cans of the tomatoes and just 6 cups of water. The 8 cups wouldn't fit in my pot :)). I added 5 cups to start and another cup about half way. Served them with a mixed greens salad and bap bun, (ya have to have a bun to dip with beans!). We have 2 generous boxes frozen for future pleasure. Thanks for a yummy supper, Don said you should get at least a 10 star review for them!

(22 Jul 2012)