Easy baked beans recipe, loaded with navy beans, bacon, and brown sugar is perfect for picnics and BBQs. Everything cooks in one pan making clean up a snap!
I can’t sit down to anything BBQ related without a side of baked beans to go with it.
For me, baked beans, potato salad and some smoked meat (pork shoulder, brisket, ribs, etc.) is my idea of the perfect summer meal.
Opening up a can of baked beans is easy, but why do that when it is so quick and easy to make them yourself.
My sister annoyingly asks me to make this at least once a month. I often get asked to make this recipe for other functions because people enjoy it so much.
However, I do have to warn you, this dish is not healthy and has the potential of giving you diabeetus, said in your best Wilford Brimley voice, and heart disease.
Our baked beans recipe is also very forgiving, making it a great beginner’s recipe. There is nothing like a few successes to give you confidence in the kitchen.
Starting with recipes, that have a wide berth for a margin of error, are what we recommend for folks just learning how to cook.
I start with bacon, who doesn’t love bacon? The key to getting the most flavor out of your bacon is too cook it until it is crispy.
I suspect that you have brown sugar, onions, ketchup, mustard, and chili powder on hand already. The only thing you might need to pick up is some canned navy beans, unless you’re like me, in that case, you already have some.
You can easily adapt this recipe to suit your tastes. Play around with your normal BBQ style spices: chili powder, paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. to amp up the spice level.
Browned breakfast sausage and green bell peppers in this recipe work surprisingly well.
Heck, you could probably even use browned ground beef if you wanted. The point is, this recipe is super adaptable and a great base to start with.
- Drain and rinse the canned kidney beans. I do this in a colander.
- Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven or saucepan until almost crispy and remove from the pan. If you are going to cook these in a slow cooker, then you can use a skillet for cooking the bacon and onions,
- Remove most of the grease from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
- Add the diced onions to the bacon grease and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients plus the cooked bacon, stir to combine.
- Simmer over low heat for 1 to hours or until the beans have thickened.
My recipe can be made on the stovetop, in a crockpot, or in the oven. Again, we are talking super adaptable and forgiving.
In the Oven
If I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll put the Dutch oven in my oven set to 225°F and forget about it for an hour or two.
The directions are the same except they are simmering in the oven instead of on the stove.
If baking your baked beans, make sure that any saucepan you use has an oven-safe lid before trying this method. You could also bake them in a large casserole dish that has been covered with foil.
In a Slow Cooker
If I am being super lazy, I’ll put these in a slow cooker set on low for 4 to 6 hours. Just like making these in the oven, you follow the directions for making them, except you’ll let them finish in the crockpot.
Starting with Dried Beans
You’ll need 1 pound of dried navy beans to replace the canned beans.
Pick through the beans to remove any stones or shriveled up beans.
Place the beans into a pan and fill with water, you want the beans to be covered by at least 2-inches of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Allow the beans to soak for an hour.
Drain the beans and cover with fresh water.
Place the pan back on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer the beans for about an hour.
Drain the beans and use them as you would the canned beans in this recipe.
Does this make a lot?
It really depends on how big your appetite is. You will get 16 half-cup servings from this recipe.
But it can easily be doubled or tripled, giving you enough for a large group or crowd.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Leftovers can be safely stored, tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
You can freeze leftovers by placing them into an airtight freezer container. I wouldn’t freeze them for longer than 3 or 4 months though. The quality starts to deteriorate after that. Thaw the beans before attempting to reheat.
The best way to reheat is to use low heat on the stove or place them back into a low oven.
You might need to add a bit of water, not a lot, just enough to loosen everything up so you can stir it. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until heated through.
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- Using a dutch oven or your heaviest pan, cooking the bacon over medium heat until the bacon is almost crispy
- Remove the bacon from the pan and remove all but about two tables spoons of the bacon grease.
- Add the onions to the dutch oven and add the salt. Saute the onions over medium-low heat until translucent.
- Add the garlic to the onions and sauté for about another minute. Do not let the garlic brown.
- Add the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and chili powder to the Dutch oven.
- Stir the mixture up very well to distribute the brown sugar.
- Add the navy beans and the cooked bacon to the Dutch oven and mix.
- Place Dutch oven over very low heat. You want a bare simmer. Simmer for a minimum of an hour and your beans are complete.
- Canned navy beans can be substituted with 1 pound of dried navy beans that have been cooked and drained.
- Can be oven baked at 225° F for 1 to 2 hours using an oven-safe covered pot or a Dutch oven.
- Can be cooked in a crockpot or slow cooker set to low for 3 to 4 hours.