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!
I followed the recipe except for using dried beans. They turned out exceptionally good.
This is now my go to baked bean recipe.
Thank you Beth.
I’ve been looking for ages for a good recipe using canned PLAIN beans. This one is excellent. I only wanted to use 2 cans of beans because it’s just 2 people in our house. I kept the sauce measurements the same and mixed it up in a separate bowl. I kept about 1/3 of the sauce to put on the top after stirring at the 30 min mark. Mine were done in another 15 minutes. I did saute’ onion and green pepper to add.
Turned out great. No bacon, so I browned and pressure cooked a pork steak, then added it with the bone to the beans and cooked it on the Weber to give it some smoke flavor.
I was worried that it wouldn’t be enough liquid, but it was the perfect amount.
I made these and followed the directions exactly, but my beans came out super thick and the sauce had an almost paste-like consistency (I stopped baking them at 60 minutes but probably could have done with no baking team). The flavor is good, but the consistency is way off. Any suggestions for how to fix this?
Hi Rochelle, unsure what to say as I wasn’t there and can’t see what you did to get that kind of result.Unsure how they came out pasty, as our recipe has been tested. XOXO -Monti
HI, this recipe looks yummy and delicious. Your descriptions are self-explanatory as well. Thanks for this amazing recipe.
I purchased all the ingredients for this recipe and will be making it tomorrow. It sure looks like there’s additional liquid added in one of the pictures. It looks like broth or liquid from the canned beans. Just want to be sure before I cook it.
I’ve had great success with all your recipes.👍
Drain the beans. There are no additional liquids besides those listed in the recipe card. XOXO -Monti
Just a simple gorgeous pot of baked beans. Next I wanna try Beth’s bbq sauce as this recipe basically made it along with the beans, and it’s very tasty. I added a sprig of rosemary to the bacon, I like it with beans.
As I always look at and read the photo instructions for your recipes, I noticed your little error, ‘if the sauce looks nice and thick after 60 SECONDS(LOL!!!), Obviously you meant MINUTES!EXCELLENT RECIPE AS ALWAYS
HI BETH, can the recipe be made in a slow cooker or do you already have one on your website?
Yes, you can make this recipe in a slow cooker. However, we haven’t tested it and don’t have definitive directions for you. But if I were you, I’d double the cook time and taste taste taste. XOXO -Monti
Great suggestions Monti! 🙏Thanks. I’m trying the recipe again this weekend. K
This looks amazing. My dad used to make spicy-sweet baked beans that were ADDICTIVE, and this looks really similar (although he usually cheated a bit by starting with good canned baked beans). This is even more budget-friendly. I’m already looking forward to them!
Even in these times of ever rising prices, it’s possible to get canned beans on sale in the $.50-$.60 price range. Whenever I see them at good prices, I add a few cans to my pantry, but they never stay long on my shelves. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up 8 cans of beans for $.47 each–the limit for that price. My grocery cart had kidney beans, pintos, garbanzos, and navy beans. Canned tomatoes often go on sale simultaneously.
If I use dried beans from the bulk section would that change the cook time?
Yes. You would need to hydrate etc. XOXO -Monti