Sweet, smoky and delicious, my baked beans are kissed with a hint of bacon, bourbon, molasses and brown sugar! They're a wonderfully bold and saucy side dish to nestle up next to all the delicious grilled items on your summer spread!
Baked Beans, a Scrumptiously Sweet and Smoky Side
Beautiful, warm, lovely summer... it's definitely the season for grilling and BBQ-ing, and feasting outdoors on lots of our most beloved finger-licking foods fit for extra napkins! 😉
Some of my absolute favorite times of this season are when my hubby and I gather up a few simple ingredients, grab some beers, and head outside to our cozy little grilling area in the backyard for an evening of good food, prepared together, under the stars.
From juicy chicken, to shrimp, to tender and succulent steak or even sausage and brats, all of these offerings pique our appetite and totally enliven our senses as they sizzle and sputter away on our grill.
And the best side dish to generously spoon up next to these scrumptious offerings? BBQ baked beans!
My sweet and savory homemade baked beans are made with smoky bacon, brown sugar, molasses, a hint of bourbon and a drizzle of maple to bring a bit of warm, saucy coziness to the table.
How to Make Baked Beans on the Stovetop
The nice little thing about baked beans is that they're not always prepared baked in the oven—they can be done stovetop just as easily!
Personally, I actual prefer stovetop baked beans because I like to be able to take a little peak under the lid and check to see how things are coming along as the beans simmer (I'm nosey that way), and be able to stir as often as needed.
I find that preparing baked beans this way allows for me to see if any additional broth or water needs to be added towards to latter part of the cooking process, as the beans tend to absorb liquid as they soften.
It's also nice to be able to check the doneness of the beans after a few hours, and sneak a little taste!
Here's a glance at my baked beans recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- Because I do use dry great northern beans in this recipe, the first thing I do to prepare my beans is place them into a large bowl and cover them with water by about an inch to soak overnight (at least 8 hours, even up to 24 hours); then, I drain them.
- I get the baked beans “party” started by adding my soaked beans plus the rest of my flavor/seasoning ingredients into a medium-large pot, stir together, and bring things to the boil; then I reduce the heat, cover with a lid askew, and cook the beans for about 4-5 hours until tender (adding liquid as needed).
- Once tender and thickened, I finish off the baked beans by adding my crispy bacon, bourbon and maple, plus a couple of good sprinkles of salt, and check to make sure they're well seasoned before serving with my favorite foods!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 10
Nutrition Info: 440 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 hours
Total time: 5 hours, 20 minutes
• 1 lb. dry great northern beans (or small white beans or navy beans) soaked overnight in water, then drained of excess
• 5 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed (you can also use water)
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Cracked black pepper
• ¾ cup ketchup
• ¾ cup BBQ sauce
• 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
• Pinch or two ground cumin
• Pinch or two smoked paprika
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon molasses
• Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
• 12 oz apple smoked bacon, crisped and chopped
• 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Add the soaked beans to a large pot; next, add in the 5 cups of chicken broth, the diced onion, the garlic, a few generous pinches of cracked black pepper, the ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato paste, ground cumin and paprika, plus the brown sugar, molasses and a generous drizzle of olive oil, and stir the ingredients together.
- Place the pot over high heat, uncovered, and once the contents begin to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, cover with a lid askew, and simmer the beans for about 4 - 5 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are tender and the sauce is rich and thick. (You may need to add the additional broth/water during the latter part of the cooking process once the beans begin to absorb the liquid.)
- Once the beans are tender, turn off the heat and add in the crisped, chopped bacon, the maple syrup, the bourbon and a couple of good pinches of salt to taste, and stir to incorporate; taste to see if any additional seasoning is needed.
- Serve the beans warm alongside your favorite grilled meats, hot dogs or other favorite BBQ items!
Tips & Tidbits for my Baked Beans:
- Soaking dry beans: To prepare dry beans, you'll need to cover them with water by about an inch and soak them overnight for at least 8 hours or even up to 24 hours, then drain. This helps to soften and prepare the beans for cooking, sort of “rehydrating” them.
- Save the salt for later: Over the years I've heard a number of people share that salting dry beans while they cook (and while they're still hard) tends to make them tougher, or tends to make them take longer to cook and become tender. So I suggest adding the salt in once they're tender, at the end of the cooking process, or at least towards the end.
- Leave out the bourbon: While there are only 2 tablespoons of bourbon in this pot of beans, you can omit it if you prefer. It adds a little hint of sweet complexity, but it won't make the baked beans any less scrumptious should you choose to leave it out.
- Vegetarian baked beans: I happen to really love the flavor of apple smoked bacon added into these baked beans, but you can leave that out if you prefer to make vegetarian baked beans. You'd also substitute veggie broth/stock for the chicken!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!