Baked Beans for a Crowd

DOUGLAS SATO | Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer School | USA | Bristol, Connecticut, USA

Baked Beans for a Crowd

I hope you are having a gathering soon because this recipe is not meant to feed just a select few.

What may be considered a side dish by some or a humble dinner by others, baked beans is an essential menu item at any gathering with my maternal family. Almost every year, we gather at our family camp in Maine (see photos) coming together from all parts of the Eastern United States. Through the communal experience of sharing a meal, we commend each other’s growth, learn of any new adventures we are on, and collectivity cope with challenges we may have faced. We dedicate our time to each to forge memories and reconnect. We also often invite friends to join us in our joyous gatherings. Our hope in allowing others into our experiences is to give them the privilege of experiencing what a close extended family is like and to help advance their feelings of social support.

Almost 100 years old, this recipe for baked beans was created by my maternal great-grandmother and was first documented by my maternal great-aunt only within the past 50 years. “Baked Beans for a Crowd” is a recipe for Boston Baked Beans based on a hearty and affordable New England mainstay. Rather than being stewed in a tomato-based sauce like British Baked Beans, these beans are stewed in a sweet thick sauce made of molasses and brown sugar. The recipe is written to feed about 100 people, provoking itself to encapsulate both love and thanksgiving. While this recipe can be adapted to feed smaller groups of people, I recommend inviting all of your family, friends, and acquaintances to savor sharing a meal. If this is not a possibility, I recommend preparing the recipe for a shelter or soup kitchen as an act of service. The recipe does contain meat, but by removing the salt pork, it can easily be transitioned to be plant-based. These delectable baked beans can be served as a side dish or as a meal with a hearty piece of bread.

Next time you plan on having baked beans at your meal and expect to have a large group, I hope you consider using my family’s recipe. Instead of the convenience of a can invest a half hour of preparation time and six hours of cook time to unless a sweet aroma and yield a succulent meal.

Baked Beans for a Crowd

Edited by Douglas Sato Created by the Wakefield-Laveway Family


10 lb. (~ 4½ kg.) pea beans or yellow eye beans* 5 to 6 small onions 2½ c. brown sugar 1¼ c. molasses 10 tsp. dry mustard 5 tsp. salt 2 ½ tsp. pepper ~½ lb. (~¼ kg.) salt pork


Pick over beans and parboil for 10 minutes**. Place 5 or 6 good size strips of salt pork in the bottom of a large electric roaster or a roasting pan. Rinse beans and pour over pork. Mix brown sugar, molasses, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan with boiling water and pour over the beans. Put 5 or 6 pieces of salt pork and the onions on top and cover with water. Cook at 175°C (350°F) until they almost boil, then lower the temperature to 150°C (300°F) or 135°C (275°F) in either an electric roaster or oven. Should take about 5 to 6 hours. Keep them covered with water while cooking. Will feed 100.


*If either of these bean types is inaccessible, any small white bean can be substituted (e.g., navy beans). **One-half cup dried beans equal 1½ cups beans cooked.

Baked Beans for a Crowd
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