Appalachian Cider Baked Beans

Appalachian Cider Baked Beans Recipe

The first time that I tasted cider beans was at the local gas station. Here in the mountains, folks gather at the local gas station to visit, have a meal, and catch up on the local news. Far from serving “fast food,” these little places present “home cookin’,” and it’s delicious. This good ol’ mountain recipe is very satisfying paired with cornbread or muffins.–Joan E. Aller

LC Big Ole Crock of Beans Note

Thanks to this recipe, we’re experiencing some serious ceramic bean pot envy. We want one. Those of you who have one, where’d you get yours?

Special Equipment: Slow cooker (optional)

Appalachian Cider Baked Beans Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 6 H, 15 M
  • Serves 8


  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 3 cups fresh apple cider
  • 8 ounces salt pork, thinly sliced
  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled and left whole
  • 6 tablespoons molasses, preferably sorghum molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • 1. To make the Appalachian Cider Beans in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.

    To make the Appalachian Cider Beans as God intended, in the oven, pick over the beans, discarding any stones and wrinkled beans. Rinse well and place in a large bowl. Add cold water to cover by 3 inches, cover, and let soak for 12 hours.
  • 2. Drain the beans and transfer them to a heavy saucepan. Add the cider and slowly bring the beans to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C).
  • 4. Layer half of the salt pork slices on the bottom of a 2-quart ceramic bean pot or other deep baking dish, such as a Dutch oven. Spoon the beans into the pot and then bury the onions in the beans.
  • 5. In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, dry mustard, and salt and place over medium heat until the mustard and salt dissolve into the molasses. Pour the mixture evenly over the beans and top with the remaining salt pork slices. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the pot. Add hot water as needed to cover the beans with liquid. Cover the pot.
  • 6. Bake for 4 hours, then uncover the pot and add more water if the beans seem dry. Recover and continue to bake for 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Serve hot, directly from the pot.

Slow Cooker Variation

  • Making a big ole pot of baked beans just got even easier. Soak and drain the beans as in step 1 of the instructions above. Toss half of the salt pork in the slow cooker. Add the beans, onions, and apple cider, using your judgement when it comes to how much cider is necessary. (You want to use enough to just barely cover the beans by no more than 1/2 an inch; if this means you use less than the specified amount, that’s okay. If the cider doesn’t completely cover the beans, add enough cold water to barely cover them.) Stir together the molasses, mustard, and salt (warming the molasses slightly in the microwave or on the stovetop will make this easier). Pour the molasses mixture over the beans and then top with the remaining salt pork. Cook on high for 3 to 6 hours, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are tender and irresistibly fragrant, 1 to 4 more hours. (The beans are quite forgiving, and so can pretty much cook on whatever setting for however long, depending on your schedule.)

    [Editor’s Note: Bear in mind, no two slow-cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike. This slow-cooker approach worked really, really well for us, although if you have a different slow-cooker cooking technique you want to try by all means, do so. And, natch, we’d love if you’d share it with us in a comment below.] Curious to hear more about working magic with your slow cooker? Peruse our entire selection of slow cooker recipes.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Jeremy Schweitzer

Jun 27, 2011

  1. Ravnfyr says:

    Found my ceramic bean pot at a yard sale for 50 cents. Can’t beat that deal. :)

  2. Kimmy says:

    I’ve been dying for an amazing baked beans recipes. This looks to be it!

  3. Kgramlow says:

    I got my ceramic bean pot from my grandmother! Gotta love these :)

    • David Leite says:

      Jealous. All I have from my grandmother, VoVo Costa, are her china and turkey-shaped salt and pepper shakers. I WISH I had a cooking pot or pan.

  4. Kimberley W. says:

    I made these last Saturday. I must tell you, I am a BEGINNER cook and had one prior failed attempt at making beans (not these). This time, however, I was bound and determined to get it right! My über-foodie friend agreed to sample them…got a solid approval from the foodie!! Thanks, folks, for such a great recipe. I’m looking forward to posting many, many more comments like this on other recipes as I journey down the road of culinary enlightenment! ;)

    • David Leite says:

      Kimberley, so glad to hear the beans turned out well. It’s a super recipe–one our testers loved.

  5. leduesorelle says:

    I’ve been lusting over the earthenware pots over at Bram Cookware (, and the La Chamba cookware at Toque Blanche ( I finally splurged on a few La Chamba pieces and find them an utter joy to cook with — I find myself making excuses to use them, like trying out this recipe in my new bean pot!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We’re always happy to help rationalize a kitchen-related purchase, not to mention trying out a new recipe, leduesorelle. Tell us, what’d you think of the beans?

  6. Judy says:

    If you have a crockpot with a removable crock you can use it for a bean pot, especially if it’s one of the shallower oval ones. Saves having one more “one use” kitchen item crowding the cupboards.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Judy, we love a terrific tip such as yours that saves both space and money. Thank you!

  7. Kim Bee says:

    These made me fall off my chair. Okay, that’s a lie. I am relaxing in bed so I fell over onto comfy pillows. But still…I am totally trying these next weekend. I love beans. They usually hurt my tummy but I think it’ll be worth it. I mean, look at these things. Would a cast iron Dutch oven work as well as a bean pot? I have two I love so hoping they would work just as well.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Kim, we love to hear that. Well, not the part about potentially feeling miserable after having this, but everything else. I don’t see any reason not to use your cast iron. If there were a terribly acidic ingredient, such as tomatoes, then I’d advise against it. But I think you’re good to go. Besides, I think that’s what they used back in the day for a big ole pot of beans, yes? Let us know how it goes….

  8. Lorna Fredd says:

    These were outstanding! Great flavor and texture, and so easy. The only tweaks I made were to add a healthy tablespoon of pure maple syrup for mild sweetness, and to add the salt pork in two large chunks so as to easily remove it at the end (just our personal preference). I’m not a baked bean fan, but we both loved this recipe, so it’s a keeper. Thanks!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Lorna, terrific to hear! And yes, as someone just said the other day, recipes are merely suggestions…love that you made this your own. Many thanks for letting us know how swell it went.

  9. Pamela Rose says:

    I was wondering what you would replace the salt pork with for a vegetarian dish without compromising too much of the flavor. Just salt? Or have you another idea? Many thanks in advance.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Pamela, I have a couple of suggestions from our testers. Using a bit of smoked paprika or liquid smoke will add to the richness of flavor. You could also dissolve some salt in warmed oil and drizzle it over the top.

    • Joan O. says:

      Pamela, you could add a big spoon full of peanut butter to the beans when you start cooking them with the cider. I’ve cooked my pintos for years with peanut butter instead of salt pork. When I first started doing this my hubby didn’t even realize I wasn’t using the pork anymore. When I told him I was seasoning them with peanut butter he was really surprised. He said he though I was still cooking them with the pork. It gives them a nice flavor and a thick juice. I learned this trick many years ago in Weight Watchers.

  10. qirien says:

    I tried these, but even though I cooked them in my slow cooker on high for 5 hours, and then another 3 on low, and then another 1 on high, the beans are crunchy and not soft at all. Maybe I shouldn’t have added the salt until the end?

    • David Leite says:

      qirien, adding salt to cooking beans can, indeed, cause them to remain hard. But this recipe calls for the salt to be added to the molasses mixture, and since our testers didn’t have a problem with that, I’m not sure if that’s the issue. Did you add additional salt? Also the age of the beans can make a huge difference.

      • Penny Wolf says:

        I’m a home cook but I was concerned about this very thing when I read the recipe. In the past I have had bad luck adding an acid too soon to beans of any kind. Maybe the cider varies in acidity, giving a varied result. I add salt at the end of cooking beans as the ground they grew from determines their need for it or not. I want to try this recipe using a hard cider but I’m cooking the beans just until tender..naked (the beans). Then proceed to dress them and I’ll have to change the baking time.

        • Beth Price says:

          Hi Penny, I understand your concern but to reiterate David, our testers loved them and didn’t have this issue. I’m curious to hear how your method turns out, please let us know.

      • John Iwanicki says:

        REACHING OUT TO HIM B I made these twice because the first time the beans were slightly crunchy (7 hours) – not creamy as I expected. The second time after 9 hours in a cast iron pot I got the same result. The flavor is nice but there is something going on with the texture of the beans. I doubt if I will give this a third go round. Don’t know how your testers did it.

        • David Leite David Leite says:

          John, beans are tricky because recently dried beans can look the same as beans that have been forgotten at the back of the cupboard for years. I didn’t have crunchy beans when I made this recipe, but I absolutely have had it happen before. The three biggest culprits for crunchy beans are age, acid, and salt. As this recipe has no acid in it and the salt is added later, I think the age of the beans could be the issue. I suggest getting top quality beans. I like Rancho Gordo. Excellent products. Also, you can try cooking the beans longer in step 2.

        • Miles says:

          Haven’t tried this recipe yet but I recently tried cooking beans in my crockpot after reading several recipes. Don’t know if my beans were old ( which probably means they were) but my crockpot doesn’t do much on low. I tried them after 9-10 hours and they were still kind of hard. Left the rest to cook overnight and they were normal soft beans the next morning. I have already noticed huge differences in how crockpots cook and that is another example. Mine is very low on low and very hot on high…. Time to test medium I guess. Hope that helps. Beans are good to practice on as they’re usually cheap.

          • Beth Price says:

            Hi Miles, I’m surprised that your beans didn’t get soft after 9 to 10 hours of cooking. Did you soak them overnight before using them?

  11. Hilary says:

    Best. Beans. Ever. I couldn’t find salt pork so I got some sliced pork belly and I cured it in salt/brine overnight and used that. Turned out pretty darn good if you asked me! And, the house smells SO good. I made it using the stove/oven method in my dutch oven and next time I’ll be trying it in the slow cooker while I go to work. Yum!

    • Beth Price says:

      ooooh Hilary, pork belly and beans? Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the suggestion.

  12. Holly Hanks says:

    I’ve been waiting to make this until I found the bean pot I wanted. I’ve had my eye on them on eBay where they are fairly plentiful, but actually came across one in a local antique shop yesterday (the exact one I wanted!). Soooo excited to make this! Check eBay with a stoneware bean pot search—there are good deals on pretty nice ones (I collect the “brown drip” style from McCoy myself. :)) Thanks for the recipe! I already know its going to rock my world.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Holly, you are so very welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the recipe. And thanks for the eBay tip, I know I appreciate it and I’m certain many others will as well. Okay, standing by at the ready to hear how this rocked your world…!

  13. Lin says:

    I cooked these yesterday and we ate them today. The only change I made was to use Canadian bacon from my local farmer instead of the salt pork. Our house still smells so good! We loved the hint of molasses and cider and the 2 tsp. salt was perfect for us. I did have to add hot water twice, but then I did not have a bean pot. I will be making these again. They sure taste and smell like fall!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Swell to hear, Lin! I think the Canadian bacon is an inspired tweak. So lovely to know that you’ve got a new autumn staple in your repertoire…

  14. Martha in KS says:

    About 40 years ago I bought my mother a beautiful hand-thrown pottery casserole at a artists fair. She put it in a cupboard & never used it—I think she was afraid it would ruin it. When she passed away I brought it home & I’ve never used it, either. I think it’s time to make some beans!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Martha, love that. Everything about that. I think it’s time, too.

    • Lorna Fredd says:

      As a potter myself, it gladdens my heart to know that you’re welcoming that hand-thrown piece into your kitchen–it was made to be used! Food tastes better when prepared or served in something crafted with love. Joyous clay for everyday…it’s what I do. Enjoy!

  15. Kelly Lott says:

    An authentic bean pot? Look no further than Leroux Kitchen in Portland, Maine. That’s where I got mine, and the store is definitely worth a visit (as is Portland). But you can also order your bean pot from Leroux Kitchen for $25 plus $9 shipping (very reasonable for a pot which may become an heirloom). My bean pot was made in Maine and hopefully those are still the ones they carry.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Kelly, this is terrific information, thank you SO much! I know I’m not the only one who’s grateful to learn this…

  16. Mike says:

    I made this with some locally made cane syrup because I have an aversion to molasses. Great recipe and very tasty!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Perfect, Mike. I love when someone can tweak a recipe to make it more their own as you just did. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know how well it worked.

  17. Lara says:

    What’s sorghum molasses vs other molasses? Please explain the different types.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Lara, great question! Sorghum molasses is made from sorghum cane, a grass like plant that was used by early settlers. Molasses is made from sugar cane. They are both used as a sweetener in many baked goods as well as baked beans.

      • Lara says:

        Thanks, Beth. I’ve been confused about molasses types before when reading baking recipes. For ex. sulphured, unsulphured, blackstrap, etc. Perhaps this site could do a feature some time reviewing the kinds of molasses and what’s good for what type of cooking/recipe.

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