This baked one-bowl version of Boston brown bread is a savory mix of buttermilk, graham flour, molasses, and raisins. Perfect for pairing with savory foods.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the disclosure policy.

Sliced Boston brown bread with raisins.

About Baked Boston Brown Bread

If you’re looking for a fool-proof savory bread that you don’t need a bread maker to make, then this baked version of Boston brown bread is totally worth a try or two or six.

It goes perfectly with ultra savory foods (beans and franks are the most popular pairing, but tomato soups and chili aren’t far behind) but it can also be jazzed up with walnuts or raisins.

Plus, it all comes together in one mixing bowl, so not only is it easy but there’s also minimal cleanup when you’re done.

Of course, all those extra dishes and bowls will probably go toward making everything you plan on serving this bread with, but that’s part of the fun: discovering all the new food combinations you can make with this classic, retro bread.

Top down view of baked Boston bread.

What is Boston brown bread?

As far as the ingredients go, most Boston brown bread recipes are made with graham flour (or rye flour or whole wheat flour) and a touch of molasses, both of which give it the classic dark golden brown color.

However, many times, what separates Boston brown bread from the pack the way it’s cooked. For traditional recipes, this usually means steaming the bread in an old coffee can. This is why Boston brown bread is sometimes round or can even be purchased in a can. The whole process isn’t that different canning (just with less intense heat) or a water bath for cheesecake.

But as you can see, this recipe is for baked Boston brown bread, so it doesn’t use the steamed-in-a-can method. I have nothing against making this bread the authentic way, but I fell in love with the ease of this recipe. Everyone has their preferences and oven-baked bread is my comfort zone.

Where is Boston brown bread from?

I haven’t found an absolute concrete answer on this, but for the most part, it seems like this bread is most popular in the northern states of the US or in Canada.

The certainly implies that Boston might have been in the mix at some point, but overall, this recipe seems to be more popular in the central parts of the country, like Michigan and Wisconsin.

Baked loaf of Boston brown bread.

What does Boston brown bread taste like?

Due to the molasses and deep grains, this bread has a darkly sweet (and borderline savory) taste. If you’d like the bread to be on the sweeter side, you can add raisins (as pictured) to batter. If you’d like to play more to the savory flavors, skip the raisins and enjoy the bread as is.

Its consistency is slightly chewy, almost like pumpernickel.

What is graham flour?

This recipe calls for graham flour, which is a course-ground flour of whole wheat. It should be available at your local grocery store next to the other flours, although in some areas it may be easier to find it online.

Graham flour may also be labeled as whole wheat pastry flour, but there’s a slight consistency change (the pastry flour is finely milled). You can also substitute graham flour for most types of unbleached, unrefined whole wheat flour.

How to serve Boston brown bread

Good bread can be served with just about anything, but traditionally, this bread is served with dinner alongside baked beans and franks. It’s a surprisingly good combination!

As for my personal favorite, I like to have it for breakfast with a little butter and maple syrup.

How long does Boston brown bread last?

Once prepared, this bread can be stored in a sealed container on the counter for up to two to three days. If stored in the refrigerator, it could last up to five days.

Can you freeze this bread?

Yes, you totally can!

When stored in a sealed container or freezer bag, brown bread will keep its “best” quality for about two or three months. After that point, the texture of the bread might change, but it will remain good for up to six months frozen.

Sliced boston brown bread smeared with butter.

More great bread recipes

Notes & tips for Boston brown bread

  • Love Boston brown bread but want instructions for how to steam it in a can? Check out this article for how to do it. You can either use the recipe on this page or make their version. Your choice!
  • Can’t find graham flour? I sometimes have trouble with this, too. Bob’s Red Mill sells it (although theirs is labeled whole wheat pastry flour) but not many stores carry it. If you can’t find it, you can substitute for equal parts whole wheat flour.

How to make Boston brown bread

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), toss in all of the ingredients (buttermilk, egg, sugar, molasses, all-purpose flour, shortening, baking soda, salt, raisins, and graham flour – the order you add them in doesn’t really matter). Mix the ingredients until nice and blended. The consistency should be a thicker than cake batter but looser than frosting. If the consistency is too watery, add a few tablespoons of graham flour and see if that fixes it. You can add up to 1/2 cup more graham flour to get the batter to the right thickness.

Step 2 – Spray a 9×5 bread loaf pan with cooking spray, then scoop the bread batter inside. Spread out the top of the batter into an even layer.

Step 3 – Bake!

Step 4 – Slice and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Sliced Boston brown bread with raisins.
5 from 3 votes

Baked Boston Brown Bread

10 minutes prep + 50 minutes cook
281 kcal
Yields: 6 servings
This baked one-bowl version of Boston brown bread is a savory mix of buttermilk, graham flour, molasses, and raisins. Perfect for pairing with savory foods.



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×5 bread loaf pan with baking spraybaking spray, then set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer + large bowl), add all ingredients: graham flour, buttermilk, egg, sugar, molasses, all-purpose flour, shortening, baking soda, salt, and raisins. Mix on medium speed until ingredients are incorporated and consistency is thicker than cake batter but softer than frosting. If consistency is too watery, add more graham flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time (up to a maximum of 2 cups total in the batter) until batter thickens.
    1 cup buttermilk, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 tablespoon molasses, 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup raisins, 1 1/2 cup graham flour
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing out the top.
  • Bake bread for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean with no crumbs.
  • Transfer bread, still in the loaf pan, to a wire cooling rack. Allow bread to cool completely before removing from the pan.
  • Serve bread as desired.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 633mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 111IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

Made this recipe?

Tag @homemadehooplah on Facebook or Instagram and hashtag it #homemadehooplah so I can see what you whipped up!

Explore more: Bread, Brunch, One Pan, Recipes, Retro, Sides, Thanksgiving, Videos

Take recipes "to go"

Leave a comment

Recipe Rating

1 comment

    • Ginny C

    I don’t use shortening. Can you use vegetable oil or something else instead? Many thanks – this sounds wonderful!!!