Classic New England Beans

Beans and dogs are a Saturday night favorite for many New Englanders. The tradition of “Bean-Hole” beans is an old one. Traditional recipes often mask the heart-healthy goodness of beans with saturated fat and salt from bacon or salt pork and added sugar from molasses and sometimes ketchup. This recipe brings in added herbs and lean chicken sausage to replace hot dogs and salt pork to a full-flavored dish that will let you carry on a favorite tradition in a healthier way.

Slow Cooker Bean-Hole Beans

Slow Cooker Bean-Hole Beans

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Bean-hole beans are an American tradition dating back to the Native American technique of baking beans with bear fat and maple syrup buried in clay pots under coals. This recipe is designed for the modern day bean hole: the slow cooker. Relying on Guiding Stars-earning chicken sausage for a dose of animal fat and a touch of molasses for sweetness, you can carry on your family’s Saturday tradition with a healthier spin.

Servings: 6 (308 g )

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 11 hours 45 min.


  • 1 lb. dried navy or great northern beans
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • ½ lb. Guiding Star-worthy chicken sausage, sliced into disks
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak overnight, 8 hours minimum. If you don’t have time to let them stand overnight, boil with a half-gallon of water for 2 minutes and let stand, covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. Place in slow cooker.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sausage. Cook until onions are softened and light golden and sausage is browned on the outside, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook for 1 minute. Add to the beans.
  4. Add molasses, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and mustard to the beans; stir to combine. Add boiling water and top with bay leaves.
  5. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 4 1/2 hours on high or about 11 hours on low. Remove the bay leaves. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve hot.