Esther’s Swedish Baked Beans

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

    as a side dish

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

One of the historic American dishes is Boston Baked Beans. The canned product is so ubiquitous, though, that people have forgotten what a worthwhile dish it is to make yourself. An authentic recipe would start with dried beans and salt pork for flavor and would cook all day in a low oven. It’s easy to do, and I urge you to try it sometime. My version leaves out the salt pork and, if you start with cooked beans, it’s easy and quick enough for a weeknight. For this recipe, I like a bean called Esther’s Swedish, a variety that originated in Scandinavia. It is now grown in America and is a great bean to use in this dish because it holds its shape very well. You can certainly use a more common variety. To add a little crunch, top the beans with some coarse bread crumbs (Japanese-style panko being my favorite) that have been tossed with a little clarified butter or olive oil before baking. For a vegetarian “beans and weenies,” add some marinated seitan or baked tofu to the mixture before baking. Both can be purchased already prepared in natural foods stores and many supermarkets. Of course, nonvegetarian beans and weenies is an option too.


  • 1 tablespoonolive oil
  • ¾ cupsliced yellow or white onions
  • ½ cupdiced carrots
  • 1 tablespoonchopped garlic
  • cupwhite wine
  • 3 cupscooked Esther’s Swedish, navy, or great northern beans
  • cupdark molasses
  • 2 tablespoonssoy sauce
  • 1 tablespoonDijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, and cook the onions, carrots, and garlic over medium heat until lightly browned. In a large bowl (or in the sauté pan if it’s large enough), combine the cooked vegetables with the wine, beans, molasses, soy sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered or oiled casserole. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes.