If you’ve only had canned baked beans in the past then you’ve GOT to try these homemade baked beans. They’re seriously delicious and make really incredible leftovers. I used canned beans to keep these baked beans super easy, but then combined them with bacon (bacon makes everything better!) and a super simple homemade BBQ sauce to take the beans to the next level. The beans are then slowly baked to rich, sweet, smoky perfection. You’re going to LOVE them!
What are Baked Beans?
Baked beans are a rich and flavorful mix of tender beans baked low and slow in a tangy, sweet, and savory sauce. Many baked beans recipes also include some sort of salt pork for richness, and sometimes finely diced onion and bell pepper. Our baked beans recipe is incredibly simple, but we do use a homemade BBQ sauce to make sure the flavor is top-notch.
Here are the ingredients for our baked beans recipe:
- Bacon: the salty, rich bacon fat infuses the entire recipe with flavor and helps balance the tangy BBQ sauce with richness.
- Great Northern Beans: we use this variety of beans because they’re small, have a neutral flavor, and smooth, buttery texture.
- Homemade BBQ Sauce: store-bought BBQ sauce can often be overly sweet and doesn’t pack much of a flavorful punch. This homemade BBQ sauce has a bold flavor and just the right tangy, sweet, and savory flavor. It’s made with tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs and spices.
What Kind of Beans to Use for Baked Beans
Navy beans or Great Northern beans are my top picks for baked beans. The small shape, creamy texture, and neutral flavor of both navy and Great Northern beans make them the perfect complement to the rich and tangy sauce. Great Northern beans will hold their shape better, whereas navy beans may break down a bit if stirred too much.
How to Serve Baked Beans
Baked beans are so good that they may become the focal point of your plate, even when served as a side! I love to serve them with southern classics like pulled pork, burgers, coleslaw, potato salad, and mac and cheese. But you could also use them as a bowl meal! Add them to some mashed potatoes, top with cheese and green onion, and you’ve got a cozy and filling bowl of comfort.
What Cookware to Use
I used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for my baked beans, but any heavy-duty ceramic or cast iron baking dish or Dutch oven will do well. Thinner materials like metal or glass may cause the sauce to overcook or burn around the edges. You’ll want a dish that can hold about two quarts in volume.
- 8 oz. bacon ($2.40)
- 3 15oz. cans Great Northern Beans ($2.37)
- 1 15oz. can tomato sauce ($0.89)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste ($0.32)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar ($0.17)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar ($0.16)
- 1/4 cup molasses ($0.77)
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.05)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.03)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.20)
- 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Drain off all but 1-2 Tbsp of the bacon fat.
- Drain the canned beans well, then add them to the skillet and stir to combine with the bacon.
- Add the remaining ingredients: tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and black pepper. Stir until everything is very well combined.
- Bake the beans for 60-75 minutes, stirring once at 30 minutes and again at 60 minutes. If the sauce is thick at 60 minutes, it's done. If it's still a bit runny, bake 10-15 minutes longer.
- Serve hot with your other favorite comfort foods!
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How to Make Baked Beans – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut 8 oz. bacon into 1-inch pieces. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is brown and crispy. Drain off all but 1-2 Tbsp of the bacon grease. If you’ll be baking your beans in a different vessel, go ahead and transfer the cooked bacon and remaining fat to your baking dish.
Drain 3 cans of Great Northern or navy beans well. Add them to the skillet and stir to combine with the bacon.
Add the ingredients for the BBQ sauce to the skillet: 15 oz. tomato sauce, ¼ cup tomato paste, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup molasses, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.
Stir the ingredients until everything is evenly combined. Transfer the beans to the preheated 350ºF oven.
Bake the beans for 60-75 minutes (uncovered), stirring once after 30 minutes of baking, and again at 60 minutes. If the sauce is nice and thick at 60 seconds, they’re done. If it’s still a bit liquidy, bake until the sauce is thick.
Serve your homemade baked beans hot with other classic comfort foods like mashed potatoes, green beans, and mac and cheese!