Old-Fashioned Hobo Bread (Bread In A Can)

Hobo Bread has been around for years. It is an old-fashioned recipe that dates back as far as the pioneers. There are hundreds of different variations of hobo bread around; many that use different methods and ingredients. Some contain eggs, others contain shortening, but this recipe is the most authentic, and was submitted by a reader in 1993. It’s still as delicious today as it was then.

The “gimmick,” of course, is that the loaves are baked in coffee cans, which are hard to find these days as many coffee cans are not “cans” at all, but plastic. And they are not 16 oz anymore, either—more like 12 oz. But if you can’t find metal cans, you can always bake the batter in muffin tins or a loaf pan and still achieve a delicious result.

Pumpkin bread - Bread

Old-Fashioned Hobo Bread

Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 2 ½ cups leftover coffee
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • cups flour, sifted
  • 1 ½  cups  chopped nuts
  • ¼  teaspoon salt


  • Bring coffee to a boil; remove from heat. Add baking soda and raisins. Cover and allow to stand overnight.
  • In the morning, preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Grease and flour three metal coffee cans (remove labels) and set aside. In a large bowl, add sugars, flour, nuts, and salt to coffee/raisin mixture. Mix well.
  • Bake 65 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in cans before removing—remove by cutting open the other end and pushing the bread through. Slice and serve with cream cheese or butter. Makes 3 loaves.
Keyword Hobo Bread, Old-Fashioned

Submitted by Marilynn Marter, 1993

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Farmers' Almanac 2018 - Landfowl

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

Notify of
Recipe Rating

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Debbie Pickett

We used to bake hobo bread in 16oz cans.

Tammy Donaldson

I do not bake but I’m gonna try this!


I have made this recipe over a hot fire several times. If you want to substitute the molasses for the sugar, I recommend using about a cup and half of molasses. You can also use honey and applesauce to substitute for coffee. Experiment with it and be sure to spray your can with oil so it doenst stick or burn during baking. If you need can ideas, there’s preparedness websites that sell 24-32 ounce metal cans. Those are what I use and highly recommend then for making your hobo bread. Happy baking!


My grampa made this all the time. Usually no white sugar. Molasses was in it, he WAS a hobo during the depression

Wendy L.

Dear Farmers Almanac, Please add a warning about, plastic lined metal cans.


You actuality used a can, lol

Wendy L

Yep That’s how my mother made it, yeeears ago. As a youngster, I thought it was fun and yummy.


If you are going to bake anything this is common sense to not put plastic in the oven. Plastic anything melts at a fairly low temperature. No one needs to make a warning because someone cant understand that plastic melts.


The point was “plastic LINED metal cans, Hank. Some cans now come with a plastic coating to keep the contents from contact with the metal. Those cans should NOT got into the oven!


I’m thinking this recipe needs some cinnamon and maybe a trace of clove. What is making it look orange? Maybe that’s the coffee.


I had to think about this a bit because mine turned out so dark and I couldn’t understand what was in it that would cause that. Upon reflection, I’m sure that it’s because the raisins are soaked in boiling hot coffee. Simply adding the raisins would not do this to the batter.


It’s not the good old Boston brown bread in a can. That has molasses and other like wheat bread in it. I am going to try this one. And yes if you don’t have cans put. In a a loaf pan


My great aunt made pumpkin bread in a coffee can. Similar recipe but w/ canned pumpkin instead of coffee. I don’t have a 2 lb metal coffee can so I use 2 loaf pans. I loved her bread w/ cream cheese when I was little. So easy & delicious!


My grandmother made pumpkin bread too. I haven’t made it because I didn’t have coffee cans. At what temp and how long did you bake?

vyann lovett



Is there a good way to drastically reduce the amount of sugar used? I.e., using applesauce?

Mary Kathryn

I’ve baked these in straight sides canning jars. Immediately after pulling them out of the oven, put on the lids and rings. They will self seal and stay good for about 1 year.

Carrie White

How do you get them out afterwards?

Hal Hurst

The straight sided canning jars wouldn’t be hard to empty. just run a table knife around the inside and it should come out OK. If you want to go through the trouble, a circle of parchment paper in the bottom would keep it from sticking there.


LOVE this idea!!

Mary Kathryn

I just found a 3 year old jar of lemon pound cake on a back shelf in my basement. 3 years is too long! Be sure to eat them somewhere around the 1 year – 18 month mark.

Trish Poirier

My oldest friend gave me this recipe years ago. Just plain water, not coffee, and 1/4 cup oil minus the nuts. I’m making it this morning but I feel the strongest urge to add the oil and I will.


been soaking the raisins, and chopped the nuts. Lucky me, I found 16oz metal cans. My mom would make this for our family camp trips. I can’t wait for this, memories from a can!

Susan Higgins

Janice, terrific! Let us know how it turns out!

Plan Your Day. Grow Your Life.

Enter your email address to receive our free Newsletter!