Simple Stovetop Baked Beans Recipe

Some classic recipes never go out of style, but just go on being rediscovered by generation after generation of happy cooks and eaters. Baked beans is one of these: a super-nutritious, delicious food that makes us think of home.

The great Helen Nearing, pioneer of the joys of a simple lifestyle, didn’t believe you had to bake beans all day for them to be perfect. Here is her couldn’t-be-simpler recipe for a stovetop baked bean dish that tastes so good your family will think you slaved over them for hours. Baked beans and wholegrain bread makes a complete-protein meal; with a salad alongside, you have a homey, warming, satisfying supper that conjures up all the hearthside pleasures of fall, and it costs almost nothing to make.

2 cups dried beans, soaked overnight
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Drain soaking water from beans and place them in a heavy pot. Cover them with boiling water and cook until tender, about 2 hours. (Helen used the top of her wood stove!)

2. When beans are tender, saute onions in a saucepan with a little olive oil until golden, then add to beans along with other ingredients and simmer for another hour.

Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Simple Food for the Good Life, by Helen Nearing (Chelsea Green, 1980).

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Good looking recipe. But use iodized salt any kind. It is the only source of iodine in most folks diet. Unless of course you consume a daily amount of seaweed. The only other significant source.

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.3 years ago

Haven't heard Helen Nearing's name in a long time!
Thanks for one of her recipes. Love the taste of BEANS, not just the sauce, so this sounds good. Nothing worse than those canned baked beans that taste of nothing but sugar and more sugar...ugh.

Lin Moy
Lin M3 years ago

Not how I do mine but ok. Yes full directions would have been nice.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks for the recipe.

J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Yummy! Thanks for sharing.

Pat Vee
Pat Vee4 years ago

I make a bean dish given to me by a vegan friend.have used it over the years.My only addition to your dish is a splash of brown vinegar and black strap molasses.Good to know these old recipes are still making the rounds.

David N.
David N.4 years ago

I have got to try this. I have never made baked beans from scratch. I have always used canned beans.