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These are my Best Baked Beans – my go-to recipe with bacon, brown sugar, and mustard – that I take to potlucks and whip up for summer barbecues. The tender beans are a wonderful blend of sweet, smoky, and savory, and the perfect side dish for all your summer cookouts!

An image of a large cast iron pan filled with homemade baked beans.

Best Baked Beans Recipe

Summer cookouts are the best, aren’t they? Some of my best memories of summer revolve around celebrations with family and friends where everybody loads up a paper plate with their favorite potluck salads and sides, then grabs a spot in the shade to eat and chat.

I’m probably weird, but baked beans have always been one of my favorite summer foods. Particularly when there are Ruffles plain potato chips on the plate that I can use to scoop up the beans and eat them with in lieu of a spoon or fork. I think it’s the salty, crunchy chips with the sweet & savory, tender beans that makes the combo irresistible to me. 

If you haven’t tried using potato chips as your utensil of choice, I highly recommend it. It’s delicious AND better for the environment than plastic!

To me, baked beans are almost required for a really great cookout. They got with everything from hamburgers & hot dogs to grilled chicken & pork chops.

An image of a large serving spoon lifting up a scoop of baked beans.

These are the best baked beans because they have just the right amount of sweetness with the rich, savory addition of a full pound of bacon. You can make them in the oven, or throw them in the smoker for an extra layer of incredible flavor.

I start with good ol’ pork n’ beans as my base because they are just so classic and yummy. But then I doctor them up with all the other good stuff like bacon, peppers, onions, and brown sugar.

How to Make the Best Baked Beans

  1. Chop and fry the bacon:  I like to slice the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces so I can just stir it around in the frying pan until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Fry the onion & green pepper:  These two vegetables add so much amazing flavor, especially when sauteed in some of the bacon grease from frying the bacon.
  3. Combine all of the remaining baked bean ingredients:  You can finish these beans in a 9×13-inch pan or a large skillet. If I’m doing them on my Traeger smoker, I like to use disposable aluminum pans, just for easy cleanup.
  4. Bake or smoke the beans until thick and bubbly:  The flavors really develop as the baked beans cook, and the longer you bake or smoke them, the thicker they will be. Whether in the oven or on the smoker, just cook at 325 degrees F for 1 to 2 hours until thick and hot all the way through. If you prefer thicker beans, let them go for closer to two hours.
  5. Smoked beans:  Usually when we smoke these baked beans it’s because we are already smoking some other kind of meat. You can smoke the beans with almost any type of wood you are already smoking with except for mesquite. And they can smoke longer at a lower temperature if you need them to.

An image of a large cast iron skillet filled with potluck baked beans. 

Can you Make Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker or on the Stovetop?

Although the oven or the smoker are my two favorite methods of making baked beans, you can also cook them in your slow cooker on LOW heat for 4-6 hours, or in a large dutch oven on the stovetop by covering with a lid and simmering the beans for an hour.

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Baked Beans
Yield: 10 servings

Baked Beans

These are my Best Baked Beans - my go-to recipe with bacon, brown sugar, and mustard - that I take to potlucks and whip up for summer barbecues.  The tender beans are a wonderful blend of sweet, smoky, and savory, and the perfect side dish for all your summer cookouts!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans pork and beans
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven or smoker to 325 degrees F.
  2. Chop bacon and fry in a large pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high by stirring with a wooden spoon until crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels using a slotted spoon, then remove all but about 1/4 cup of the bacon drippings.
  3. Add the onion and green pepper to the pan with the bacon grease and sauté over medium heat until they have softened and begin to caramelize, around 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook and stir for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add beans, reserved bacon, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and black pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then transfer the pan to the oven or smoker if using a large, oven safe cast iron skillet, or pour the beans into a large 9x13-inch pan first before placing in the oven or smoker.
  5. Bake for 1-2 hours until the beans are hot and bubbly and have achieved the thickness you desire. Keep in mind that the beans will continue to thicken slightly as they cool.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 320 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 47mg Sodium: 1124mg Carbohydrates: 27g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 18g Protein: 17g

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