This hearty bread recipe is an old family favorite and so easy to make. Slather a piece with warm butter – it’s delicious.

Boston Brown Bread is a classic bread recipe that’s so simple. It’s a type of quick bread that’s easy to mix up and bake whenever you get a craving for homemade bread. This recipe has been passed around my family for years – we can’t get enough of it!

two slices of buttered bread on a plate.

Traditional Boston Brown Bread from New England is made with different kinds of flour, including rye flour, whole wheat flour, and cornmeal – this recipe I’m sharing is slightly different.

It’s easier to make with just all-purpose flour but with the same great flavor from brown sugar and molasses, and, of course, it’s studded with juicy raisins.

close-up of the bread loaf in a pan lined with parchment paper.

It’s the recipe I grew up with, and I imagine it was adapted to be a bit more economical and easy. So many old family recipes are like that – our grandmothers and mothers use what they have on hand, and I appreciate it! With a busy family of seven, easy is my mantra.

These treasured recipes, like my grandma’s oatmeal bread, ginger cookies, and now this brown bread recipe, are priceless. I get so much joy sharing them with you!

Why is it called Boston Brown Bread?

  • This bread originated from New England and wasn’t always baked in a loaf pan. Initially, people steamed the bread in empty coffee cans! It was often served with baked beans for dinner.
a photo of the original recipe card.

Easy Brown Bread Recipe

What I love best about this recipe is its hearty, like yeast bread, but without the yeast. It’s a quick bread that is so simple to make.

I soak the raisins so they plump up – it does make a difference! Instead of chewy raisins in the bread, you get little juicy raisins in every bite.

Like a lot of my old family recipes, this bread has shortening. I love what it does to baked goods – they have a softer and lighter texture. The bread also puffs up more when you use shortening.

This is a special one, friends, and there’s nothing better than pulling a loaf of warm homemade bread out of the oven. You will love it!

close-up shot of slices of bread.


  • Raisins
  • Boiling water
  • Brown sugar
  • Shortening
  • Large egg
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • All-purpose flour
  • Molasses
the bread batter in a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

How to Make the Bread

I like to line the loaf pan with parchment paper so it’s easy to remove the bread once it’s baked. You can grease the pan with butter or nonstick spray if you don’t have parchment.

First, soak the raisins in boiling water. This softens and rehydrates them. Let them sit in the water for about 20 minutes or until it cools.

While the raisins soak, start the bread batter by creaming the sugar, shortening, egg, and molasses in a large bowl. You can do this with a hand or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

overhead shot of the baked bread in a loaf pan.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.

Alternately add the dry ingredients and raisins to the wet ingredients until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake the brown bread for an hour to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack before slicing.

a loaf of brown bread with a slice cut off.

What does this bread taste like?

It’s lightly sweetened from the brown sugar with a hint of molasses. It’s denser and not as sweet as other quick breads like pumpkin bread. It’s also very moist so it keeps well for several days if you keep it tightly wrapped.

If you don’t like raisins, you can swap them out for chopped nuts instead.

a slice of brown bread.

Can you freeze it?

Yes, it’s freezer-friendly! Once the bread is completely cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. It will keep in the freezer for several months.

a piece of buttered bread on a plate with a fork.

This Boston brown bread recipe is great if you love homemade bread but don’t have the time to make a loaf of yeast bread. It’s quick, easy, and delicious!

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boston brown bread pinterest image.

Boston Brown Bread

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 35 minutes
This hearty bread recipe is an old family favorite and so easy to make. Slather a piece with warm butter – it’s delicious.
two slices of buttered bread on a plate.


  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon molasses


  • Preheat oven to 320°F. Grease a 4×9" loaf pan or line with parchment paper (I do this to easily remove from the pan after baking)
  • Soak raisins in boiling water and let stand until cool, about 20 minutes.
  • Cream sugar, shortening, egg, and molasses with an electric mixer.
  • In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Alternately add flour and raisins to the sugar mixture until combined.
  • Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to cool before serving.
two slices of buttered bread on a plate.
Tried this recipe?Let us know what you think!

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  1. 5 stars
    So I looove bread but I don’t often have the patience to make it with all the yeast and the rising involved 😉 This sounds like it’s right up my alley! I’m getting ready to hit the “print” button!

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