Rich and saucy baked beans are the perfect summer BBQ side dish. The BEST baked beans recipe has molasses, peppers, onions, and of course bacon. But the real secret isn’t in the ingredients at all.
If you’re looking to know how to make baked beans from scratch this might not be exactly what you want as this is a semi-homemade recipe. Large cans of baked beans start us off on the right foot, while all the rest of the ingredients in the best baked beans recipe are totally fresh and from scratch and the results are mouth watering.
The Best Baked Beans
It’s stormy outside. Like, hail, wind, thunder and rain coming down in buckets between the hail. I love it. The house is dark and quiet. Everyone is napping. It sends me waaaaay back in time.
I grew up in Vancouver, Washington. Right across the river from Portland, Oregon. Rain was obviously an every day occurrence. In fact, we had different kinds of rain. These are just a few of the different types of rain in the Pacific Northwest,
No, really. I’m totally serious. Here in Utah it just rains, but back home you could do different things based on the rain. Really you never canceled much because tomorrow would be the same, but for example, we may do a 4th of July BBQ in anything up to raining, hiking in drizzles, but probably not pouring down rain because of the mud slides. You get my point.
Sometimes I really miss Washington. It’s beautiful, lush, green and the air really does feel more fresh. Whenever we have a great rain or wind storm here it reminds me of home. In fact, it’s comforting to me. I even sleep more soundly.
Cade feels his comfort from the sun, beach and BBQ. Clearly his heart still loves South Carolina where his mom still is. Which brings us to the BEST baked beans recipe.
This is one of the very, very best recipes I’ve made which says a lot because I don’t usually loooooove baked beans. But I do love these ones!!
Are Baked Beans Vegetarian?
You can very easily make a baked beans recipe that is vegetarian as beans are vegetarian. In fact, they are great for vegetarians because they are a more meaty option at dinnertime. This recipe for the best baked beans recipe is not vegetarian. Unfortunately that bacon really does change everything.
How to Make Vegetarian Baked Beans
If you’d like to make baked beans vegetarian, just skip the bacon and proceed as normal, using olive oil for sautéing the vegetables instead of the bacon fat.
How Much Baked Beans for 100
The best baked beans recipe will serve about 6-8 people if they take regular portions, so if you need to know how much baked beans for 100 you’d have to times this recipe by 16. That’s kind of crazy.
- 2 Quarts of beans feeds 25 people
- 2 1/2 Gallons of Beans feeds 50 People
- 5 Gallons of Beans feeds 100 people
Which Beans are Baked Beans Made With?
There are a few different baked beans recipes out there, but most baked beans recipes are made with navy beans. This classic beans holds up well to the sauce of the baked beans and oven temperatures.
Can You Make Baked Beans with Kidney Beans?
You can make baked beans with many different beans but not all will taste like the classic baked beans recipe, which is fine because all are still delicious.
For example, Cade’s Red Baked Beans don’t use your typical navy beans but we still love this recipe!
Which Brand of Baked Beans are Best?
I never knew there could be so many brands of baked beans before, but as an adult I’m learning that not all baked beans are created equally. We are currently using Bush’s Baked beans and have had really wonderful results from the brand.
We like that the sauce tastes as if it was made at home, the beans are hole and never smashed to pieces and the sauce to beans ratio is quite perfect.
What is the Difference Between Pork and Beans and Baked Beans?
- What are Pork and Beans?
Pork and beans are made by stewing navy beans along with pork drippings and pork. As this cooks down the beans become soft and covered in a delicious flavor.
- What are Baked Beans?
Baked beans are a mixture of navy beans, molasses and usually a tomato sauce and or brown sugar.
- What is the difference between pork and beans and baked beans?
- Color: If you see two bean dishes on the table at a potluck or BBQ, you can tell the difference just by looking at them. How? Pork and beans tend to be lighter in color than baked beans. The brown sugar or molasses makes baked beans a darker red color.
- Taste: Baked beans tend to be sweeter because of the brown sugar or molasses mixture that is cooked with the beans.
- Consistency: Baked beans are thicker since the dish has either brown sugar or molasses to hold the beans together and create an extra thick and saucy mixture.
- Convenience: Both baked beans and pork and beans come in a can, so both are convenient. However, for cookouts and family outings, people tend to go the extra mile and make their own baked beans or a semi-homemade version.
- Cost: Pork and beans are stereotyped as the poor man’s food and why a simple cowboy liked them. Cans of pork and beans are slightly cheaper than baked beans in the same size can.
How to Make The Best Baked Beans
We start the best baked beans recipe with bacon, divided. I have no idea why this makes such a difference, but it really does.
Cook 2/3 the bacon down in a Cast Iron skillet. You could easily do this in a pan and later transfer to a casserole dish or pot, but we’ve found that a deep cast iron skillet brings on extra flavor and even cooking. This Cast Iron Skillet is our absolute favorite because it’s a better price and we’ve had it for years and years without a single problem.
Remove the bacon and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan and add the onions and peppers.
It’s very important that you cook the veggies down until tender as they will meld right into the sauce which is what you want versus baked beans full of veggies.
Stir in the cans of baked beans and all remaining ingredients and add the final bacon to the top of the beans.
The Secret to the Best Baked Beans Recipe
Actually, there are two secrets to the best baked beans recipe.
- Liquid Smoke- We’ve learned through 10 years of blogging that not everyone has a smoker, but everyone wants that smoky flavor. A small amount of liquid smoke is all it takes for these saucy baked beans to taste like you smoked them for hours out on your Traeger.
- Bake low and slow- Baking beans at a lower temperature for a longer period of time will enhance the flavor of the sauce to all new heights and the beans can easily take the heat. Try baking for 3 to 3 1/2 hours then serve immediately.
Looking for more recipes with beans? Try our Cheesy Black Beans and Rice, Easy Green Beans with Bacon, Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans and Rice or for our main dish, Bean and Cheese Smothered Enchiladas
More delicious SIDE DISHES you’re sure to love:
- Brazilian Coconut Rice
- Macaroni Salad
- Sweet Cornbread
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Herbed Focaccia Bread
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Best Mashed Potatoes
- Easy 7-Up Biscuits
- Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Best Potato Rolls
- All our SIDE DISH recipes!
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The Best Baked Beans
- 8 Strips Bacon divided
- 1 Red Bell Pepper Chopped
- 1 Large Onion Chopped
- 3/4 Cup Ketchup
- 1/4 Cup Molases
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Mustard
- 1/4 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- 3 Cans Baked Beans 16 ounces
- Fry the bacon and set aside.
- Reserve 2 Tablespoons (or less is fine) of the bacon grease, saute onions and peppers in it.
- Mix all ingredients together except the 1/3 of the bacon.
- Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the beans.
- Put everything in a large pot and bake uncovered for 2.5-3 hours @ 300 degrees.
- When done sprinkle a little cilantro over the top if desired.