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Flavorful baked beans are easy to make from scratch
No cookout is complete without these sweet and smoky baked beans.
BBQ baked beans are a summer cookout must-have. Their sweet and smoky flavor pairs well with grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, and steaks. Though prepared BBQ baked beans can easily be purchased from the grocery store, they’re also easy to make — simply combine the ingredients in a foil-covered dish and bake them in the oven.
Baked beans get their signature sweetness from onions and brown sugar and their smoky flavor from bacon. This recipe also calls for liquid smoke to enhance the flavor. Liquid smoke is available in most grocery stores and online. If you can’t find it in your local supermarket try replacing the liquid smoke with a pinch of chipotle powder. You can also use smoked bacon (or cubes of smoked ham) along with (or in place of) the bacon to further enhance this recipe’s smoky flavor.
If you’ve never made BBQ baked beans from scratch, give this easy recipe a try.
And click here for more of our best BBQ baked bean recipes.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.
Barbecue beans have been a staple at The Meatwave pretty much since its inception. Since then, I've relied on two recipes to serve me well throughout the years&mdashAlton Brown's Once and Future Bean and Mike Mills' Tangy Pit Beans. The recipes are radically different, one begins with dried beans and requires almost a day from start to finish, while the other utilizes canned beans and can be completed in just over an hour. Both have their own unique qualities, and while either recipe stands up against almost every side of beans I've gotten in a barbecue joint, neither really represents my most ideal barbecue bean. So how to solve that? Make my own recipe!
Having made both bean recipes for years now, it was easy for me to pick out the best aspects of each and add my own stamp on it to get me closer to my desired end result. There's no doubt the from scratch beans have a depth of flavor and more tender bean than the recipe that starts with a series of cans. So I began my journey here with dried beans, opting for a variety because I really loved how different beans added additional flavor and texture in Mike Mills' recipe.
I used an equal amount of three bean varieties&mdashgreat northern, pinto, and small red beans&mdashto get a pound total, which I then soaked in salted water overnight. Common practice usually forbids salt at this step, but the truth is that soaking in salt water actually results in creamier beans and helps keep the skins from breaking apart during the long cook on top of adding additional seasoning.
It's hard not to love Alton Brown's recipe that begins with an entire pound of bacon, and while there's fun in saying there's that much salty, fatty pork in my beans, I think it's a bit overkill. So I kept the bacon, but cut it back to half a pound, which, by the time it was rendered and crisp, there was more than enough fat to sauté the veggies in.
Of which I used onions, jalapeños, green bell pepper, and garlic. I cooked these until softened, a process I also use to start off my own barbecue sauce recipes.
Next I strained the beans and added them in along with chicken stock and water for the liquid. I then let the beans simmer for one hour prior to adding the rest of the ingredients. The reason for this step is that acids can inhibit a bean's ability to cook, so I wanted to let the beans begin to cook before the introduction of items that could alter the process.
The final set of ingredients were mainly what I would use to create a simple, standard barbecue sauce&mdashketchup, vinegar, and mustard, along with brown sugar, honey, molasses, barbecue rub, and hot sauce. When added to the still very liquid-heavy beans, it formed a really, really thin barbecue sauce, but there was still hours of cooking ahead, ample time for the sauce to reduce and thicken.
After three hours in a 300°F oven, the beans emerged almost completely soft and creamy throughout and with a much thickened sauce, albeit not quite standard barbecue sauce consistancy yet. So to finish up the cooking and further reduce the sauce, I cooked the beans for their final hour without a lid, after which time they looked like this&mdashintact, soft, and creamy, suspended in a medium-thick, concentrated barbecue sauce.
The flavor was pretty spot on too. While Alton Brown's recipe creates a molasses-heavy flavor and Mike Mills' strongly features sweetness, these beans struck a greater sweet and tangy barbecue balance with slight kick of heat to further enhance the overall complexity. Although pleased with the results, I see this as just a start to developing even better barbecue beans down the road. My head is already swarming with ideas like using burnt ends or pulled pork to impart the meaty smokiness that bacon served here, or taking the ingredients in a direction that more closely resembles my barbecue sauce recipe that has adorned awarding winning smoked meats in the past. Still, this current recipe is a step in the right direction and I'm sure it'll produce barbecue beans you're bound to love.
Published on Thu Dec 8, 2016 by Joshua Bousel
- Yield 6-8 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 8 Hours
- Cook 5 Hours 15 Minutes
- Total 13 Hours 30 Minutes
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 pound small dried beans, such as great northern, navy, or pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
- 8 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 1/2 cups finely minced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
- 2 tablespoons finely diced seeded jalapeño (about 1 medium pepper)
- 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
- 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon barbecue rub
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- In a large container, whisk together 2 quarts water and salt until salt has dissolved. Add beans, cover, and let stand overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse beans.
- Place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until fat has rendered and bacon has crisped, 7-10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving as much fat in dutch oven as possible.
- Add onion to dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and begins to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes. Stir in green pepper, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups of water, chicken stock, reserved bacon, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 300°F while beans are simmering.
- Stir in ketchup, brown sugar, honey, molasses, mustard, vinegar, barbecue rub, and hot sauce. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook beans for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook until beans are tender throughout and sauce has thickened, about 1 hour longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Season with salt. Serve immediately alternatively, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze. Reheat before serving.
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Chilebrown I like your recipe and will have to give it a try. I am especially interested in the step of soaking the beans in salted water. There is the age old question of to soak or not soak. I lean towards the latter but am open to the salted water technique. Thanks. Posted Sat, Dec 10 2016 11:12AM
Chris Spectacular, Josh. I have to try these. Posted Tue, Dec 13 2016 9:37PM
George I've done your baked beans recipe a number of times, but I just tuck the pot in my smoker while I'm doing a pork shoulder and let it catch the drippings. Posted Wed, Dec 28 2016 2:36PM
Marie Is there any way to get around using the bbq rub? I'm living in Italy right now and it's not readily available (nor are the individual ingredients)? Would subbing in bbq sauce be a possiblity? Posted Wed, Feb 1 2017 2:37PM
Christopher Wheeler I love this recipe, basically from Serious Eats! Posted Sat, Aug 22 2020 7:29PM
Josh @Christopher Thanks! This is the same recipe I developed for Serious Eats. Posted Sat, Aug 22 2020 7:32PM
I’m pretty naive when it comes to cooking dry beans. I have a question, if you please?
I soaked 1 lb of dry butter beans overnight in cool tap water to cover by a couple inches. Glass bowl. Next day though they were still just as hard as straight out of the bag! Hmmm. Weird. So I refreshed the water and let sit another day - with exactly the same results!? I said well screw it! I guess they’ll soften as I cook them, using the recipe on the bag. Um. I’m telling you. I cooked and cooked - and COOKED simmering those beans for one two four six hours!! Adding stock/water!, but they just sat there glaring at me, hard as little rocks! Finally I dumped them and thought it had to be salt too early. Now I read here that’s not the case.
What did I do wrong? If anyone can tell me I’d sure appreciate it. I’ve cooked Lima beans and they’ve come out gorgeous with a nice hock. I wish I knew the issue here so I don’t repeat it.
Thanks so much for any advice, and my daughter (adult) steered me here to try these fantastic beans of yours. I can’t wait. :-)
Laurie Posted Sat, Nov 28 2020 8:04PM
Josh @Laurie Not sure what's going on, I've never had that issue. Maybe you got a bad batch of beans? Has this happening multiple times for you? Posted Mon, Nov 30 2020 8:45AM
Max Anderson My fool proof way with dry beans is simple and no overnight soak. Pick over beans discard broken beans, rocks and rat turds. Rinse beans , put in large pot cover with cold water by 1 or 2 inches . Bring beans to fast boil on hi heat, stir, then turn off fire and let sit for one hour. Rinse again under cold water strain and put back in pot cover with 1-2 in cold water, add seasoning(I like it simple like one onion in quarters, one jalapeno split and seeded and 1/4 pound slab bacon or salt pork whole piece, not chopped or sliced) bring to boil then simmer till soft and creamy. I do not salt until after cooking because pork gives off a lot of salt. My preference is peruano beans. Posted Fri, Mar 5 2021 11:28AM
Shel Laurie, I can think of a couple of things to try. First, my beans don't get soft after soaking overnight. Soft happens after hours of cooking. But they do hydrate and get bigger, so soaking overnight in lots of water is important. When I soak beans, I make sure to use a big bowl and fill it up to the top with water. Then I dump out the water and use broth to cook. Again, I'm generous with the liquids, because not enough leads to hard beans. And no salt until a couple of hours of cooking and soft beans. Salt makes the bean skins hard. Try again -- there's nothing like home-cooked beans! Posted Thu, Mar 25 2021 1:42PM
That’s right, these southern baked beans have won 4 competitions. And I’m not even talking about the office pot luck competition, we are talking about fun local bbq competitions. Back in the day before kids we used to love going to bbq competitions.
There were so many fun local ones and some huge ones. Finding our favorites was a job we took seriously. We started entering these beans into them a year before we moved and reality set in with full time careers and kids.
How do you make baked beans? You’d be surprised at how easy this recipe really is! They’re sweet, thick, rich, deeply flavored with molasses, a bit of salt from bacon and a hint of spice from the hot sauce. They’re everything and more that you could want from baked beans and I GUARANTEE these are going to be the hit of your barbecue.
Tips and Tricks
This simple baked beans recipe is a delicious option for any BBQ. And with these tips and tricks, you’re sure to have the perfect side to bring to your next cookout.
- Don’t forget to drain your beans. To keep your beans from getting soupy, always drain the water from the cans before adding them to the pan. It’s also a good idea to rinse your canned beans to remove extra juice and sauce from the outside of the beans before cooking them.
- Increase the heat with more peppers. For spicy BBQ baked beans, toss in extra jalapeno peppers. You can add up to four diced jalapeno peppers for more heat.
- Use a cast iron pan for even cooking. When cooking low and slow recipes, cast iron is your best option. A cast-iron pan holds and evenly distributes heat better than traditional pans, allowing you to cook your beans more evenly without burning them.
Make-ahead for quicker day-of cooking. Since these beans take a while to cook, you may want to consider making them ahead if you’ll be busy prepping other dishes for your BBQ. The beans can be prepared the day before, covered, and refrigerated. When you’re ready to reheat your beans, warm them over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
- 2 cups navy beans
- ½ pound bacon
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer the beans in the same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hours. Drain and reserve the liquid.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish by placing a portion of the beans in the bottom of dish, and layering them with bacon and onion.
In a saucepan, combine molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over beans. Pour in just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender. Remove the lid about halfway through cooking, and add more liquid if necessary to prevent the beans from getting too dry.
BBQ Baked Beans Recipe - Recipes
BBQ baked beans remind me of summer! This BBQ baked beans recipe is so easy you just have to combine simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen and throw it in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes.
This recipe is perfect for newbies to the kitchen as there’s no possible way you can mess it up!
What’s In This BBQ Beans Recipe?
The ingredients to make BBQ baked beans are fairly simple. All you need to create this culinary masterpiece is bacon, simple herbs such as green and red bell peppers, onion, and garlic. This BBQ baked beans recipe uses three different kinds of beans in addition to a can of baked beans.
Pinto beans, great northern beans, and red kidney beans are mixed with sweet ketchup, maple syrup, hot sauce, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar to form an award-winning BBQ baked beans!
Tips for Making the BBQ Baked Beans
Be kind with your bacon. The bacon provides unparalleled flavor to these BBQ baked beans, so there is no need to be cautious about bacon. This recipe uses a pound of bacon, providing salty, smoky bites of flavor in every bite!
This sauce uses a makeshift barbeque sauce consisting of brown sugar, maple syrup, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. While you can eliminate all of these ingredients and use store-bought barbeque sauce, your baked beans may not be as flavorful.
If you do use a store-bought BBQ sauce, do not pick up the first can of BBQ sauce you see. Search for a high-quality barbecue sauce to ensure you get the most flavor.
How to Make BBQ Baked Beans
This recipe is one of the easiest recipes you will find on the internet! Simply fry up your bacon in a saucepot and cook until it’s nice and crispy. Remove the cooked bacon and sauté the options, bell peppers, and garlic.
Next, add the beans, ketchup, brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and spices. Pour the baked beans into a dish and bake them in the oven.
BBQ baked beans recipe
Try this tasty twist on a classic favourite that is budget friendly and great for feeding a crowd. Serve as a main meal on jacket potatoes or thick sliced toast or serve as a side to chicken, beef or just at a BBQ. After a bit of prep it all goes in one pot and simmers away by itself! Make them Boston baked beans by cooking bacon lardons with the onion until crisp and stirring a heaped tbsp of mustard in with black treacle. Make double and freeze half to pull of for a speedy midweek meal.
- 4 cans white beans (we used Great Northern Beans)
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 medium jalapeños
- 1 lb of bacon
- 1 bottle of Plowboys BBQ Bean Buddy Bean Starter
- 2 tbsp Plowboys Yardbird Rub
Cut the bacon into 1/2" pieces, and fry them in a large sauté pan. While the bacon is cooking, dice up the onion and jalapeños in 1/4" chunks. Remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a plate or in a bowl. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan and sauté the jalapeños and onions in the bacon fat.
While the vegetables are cooking, empty the four cans of white beans into an oven safe pot (enameled cast iron works very well). Place the pot over medium heat, and add the bacon, veggie mixture, one bottle of Plowboys BBQ Bean Buddy Bean Starter and two tablespoons Plowboys Yardbird Rub. Stir the ingredients until combined.
Preheat your grill (we used a Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet cooker) to 350°F. Place the pot of beans on your grill and let them cook for at least one hour. Stir regularly to make sure the beans at the bottom of the pot do not burn.
Once the beans have finished cooking we suggest you place them in an airtight container to sit in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow the beans to set up and the flavors to continue to combine. Serve and enjoy!
- 10 slices bacon
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 (16 ounce) can pork and beans
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can butter beans, drained
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook ground beef and onion in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat is browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain. Crumble cooled bacon and set aside.
Combine ground beef mixture, bacon, beans, BBQ sauce, white sugar, brown sugar, ketchup, molasses, mustard, salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Spoon into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven, stirring once, until thickened and bubbly, about 1 hour.
Sweet Dixie Baked Beans
One of our favorite side dishes all summer long is baked beans. They’re perfect with just about any summer meal, from a bar-b-que picnic to hot dogs on the grill.
Now, you probably have your own way of making baked beans, and if you’re like most people, it involves a can opener. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you knew just how easy it was to make your own baked beans without opening a single can, you might just change your ways. They take a little time, but hardly any effort. And did we mention how good they taste?
1 lb dry navy beans
1 large onion, diced
½ lb bacon, not cooked, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 jar Martin’s Bar-B-Que Sweet Dixie Sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 T worcestershire sauce
First, you need to sort through the dry beans and get out any weird looking beans or foreign objects. Once you do that, the beans need to soak overnight in 8 cups of water. The next morning, simmer the beans in the same soaking water over low heat for 1 hour. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 325. Drain the beans but save the water they were cooking in you’ll need some of it later. Put half the beans into a baking dish (if you have one with a lid, use that). Spread half of your diced onion on top of the beans, and then arrange half of your bacon on top of the onions. Put the rest of your beans on top of all that, and repeat with the onions and bacon.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix Sweet Dixie Sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and worcestershire until fully combined and heated. Carefully pour over the beans and allow the sauce to settle into the pan. This part might take a few minutes, but don’t stir the beans. Fill the pan with bean water until the beans are just barely covered. Put the lid on your pan, or cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1½ hours. Remove the lid and add more bean water if you can’t see it anymore. Continue baking for another 2 hours or until beans are tender.