This Newfoundland boiled beans recipe is simple, rustic and oh-so-satisfying. With just some basic ingredients (like beans, ham, veggies and broth) and a little time, you could be enjoying this for dinner tonight. Delicious with a hunk of crusty, buttery bread.
Today I’m sharing another traditional Newfoundland recipe: boiled beans. This is my father’s recipe and I’m sure there are other variations, but I wanted to share how he does it (which I think is pretty darn tasty).
When I asked my dad how he makes his boiled bean recipe I asked a lot of questions about what goes in it, how much of each ingredient and the process. It was funny because, like most traditional recipes, they are made from the heart and not always written down (as in the case of my dad’s boiled beans).
When I asked about consistency and such, he said “I don’t know, I just look at it. If it’s too watery, I remove the cover to reduce some of the liquid; if it’s too thick, I add more water.” Simple as that.
Anyhow, after I prepared his recipe, I brought dad and mom some to enjoy for lunch. They loved it so I guess I made dad proud with this one!
It’s nice to hold onto tradition and recipes that mean a lot to you or where you’ve come from. Because of that, I’ve been trying to share more of those recipes. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
What Are Newfoundland Boiled Beans?
Newfoundland boiled beans is exactly that, boiled beans. I know what you’re probably thinking … exciting!
Okay, definitely not, but what this recipe lacks in title, it makes up for in flavour.
Though there’s a broth, this is not a soup. It’s just cooked beans infused with a tasty liquid. As the beans and ham cook at the same time, the flavours of the ham seep into the beans and liquid base making everything quite relishing.
As you can probably tell, the recipe itself is super rustic. There’s nothing fancy here at all, but it tastes so good! For this boiled bean recipe, you’re going to need:
- Broth and/or water (some people use all water, but I like to use a little broth, too, for extra flavour)
- Dried beans that have been soaked overnight
- Ham or salt beef (sometimes dad uses leftover cooked pork instead)
- Veggies, like onion, turnip (rutabaga), carrot and celery (less traditional, but delicious)
- Lots of black pepper
- Molasses for a little sweetness (optional)
Type of Bean To Use
Use dried navy beans that have been picked over (i.e., remove and discard any foreign objects, like rocks, and imperfect beans), rinsed and drained. I don’t recommend canned beans here because they won’t withstand the cooking time.
Do the Beans Have To Be Soaked Before Cooking?
Yes! Soak beans overnight in a bowl of cold water. Ensure that the beans are well submerged because they will expand as they soak.
When ready to use, drain, rinse again with fresh, cold water and proceed with the recipe.
How To Make Boiled Beans
Full details on how to make boiled beans are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- After picking over, rinsing and draining the beans, soak them overnight in a bowl of cold water so they plump and soften a little.
- Add drained, soaked and rinsed beans, broth, water and one whole onion to a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with lid ajar and cook for about an hour.
- After an hour or when the beans are almost tender, remove the whole onion, add veggies, a little more water and half of the black pepper. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes more.
- Once beans and veggies are tender, stir in remaining black pepper and some molasses. Adjust seasoning if you like.
- Serve and enjoy!
Tips for Making This Boiled Beans Recipe
- I used two onions here: one at the beginning and one at the end. The first one I discarded after about an hour (well, by discarded, I mean ate). If you like, you could leave in for the full cooking time.
- Have a leftover ham bone? Throw that in the mix when you start. It will further infuse the broth.
- Brands and varieties of ham can vary in salt content. If you need additional salt here, just add to your taste.
- I like to leave the ham and veggies in larger chunks because this is such a rustic, hearty recipe. If you want to cut smaller, that’s okay too.
- Dad adds a touch molasses at the end to infuse a little sweetness. This is optional, but I do think it adds something special to the recipe.
Variations for This Newfoundland Boiled Bean Recipe
- Salt beef is more traditional for this boiled bean recipe. My father prefers ham because it’s less salty than salt beef. Plus, salt beef is pretty difficult to get your hands on outside of Newfoundland. If you’d rather use salt beef, though, go for it. Use an equivalent amount as the ham; don’t forget to soak your salt beef in cold water for a day or two, changing the water once or twice to get rid of excess salt before using in this recipe. Trim any excess fat, too.
- For extra oomph, throw in a couple of bay leaves (discard when beans are cooked) and some herbage, like rosemary and thyme.
More Comfort Food Recipes
- Traditional Newfoundland Cod au Gratin
- Newfoundland Salt Cod Fish Cakes
- Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup With Ham
- Homemade Baked Beans With Bacon
I suggest having a nice warm roll or slice of bread (like this rosemary Parmesan bread) with this ham and bean recipe. So yummy!
If you make this Newfoundland boil beans recipe, please leave a comment below!
Newfoundland Boiled Beans (Dad’s Recipe)
- 2 cups dried navy beans
- 4 cups vegetable broth, or water or chicken broth
- 4 to 5 cups water, or more depending on desired consistency
- 1 pound smoked ham, cut into cubes (about 3 cups)
- 2 yellow onions, divided (one peeled and left whole and one peeled and chopped)
- 2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 small turnip, peeled and chopped into cubes (about 2.5 cups)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ to 1 tablespoon molasses, depending on how sweet you like things
- Pick over beans (i.e., remove and discard any foreign objects, like rocks, and any imperfect beans).
- Rinse and drain beans. Place beans in a large bowl and generously cover with fresh, cold water so they're submerged (and at least two inches or so of water over top). Soak overnight, for about 12 hours.
- The day you are ready to make the boiled beans, remove beans from water. I like to give them another rinse with fresh, cold water. Drain.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat, add 4 cups of broth, 3 cups of water, ham and one whole onion.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer (about medium-low heat) so you more of a gentler bubbling.
- Cover (with lid slightly ajar) and cook for about 60 to 75 minutes or until beans have mostly softened (they were done to my likeness at 60 minutes). Remove whole onion.
- After beans have mostly softened, add remaining chopped onion, celery, carrots, turnip and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. At this point you can sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch or so of salt (about ¼ teaspoon if you like).
- Add another 1 to 2 cups of water. Bring up to a simmer again (the temperature will drop when you add water) and cook another 25 to 30 minutes or until the beans are cooked through and the veggies are tender.
- Stir in remaining ½ teaspoon of black pepper and ½ to 1 tablespoon of molasses for a little sweetness (or to taste). If you want a looser or thinner consistency, add more broth or water and heat through. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, to your taste. Serve and enjoy! Great with crusty bread for dunking.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
Tried this recipe?
If you do make this recipe, thank you!! It would mean so much if you could leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed it, and it helps other readers too!