How to make BBQ baked beans.

How to Make BBQ Baked Beans Recipe

When it comes to classic BBQ sides, BBQ baked beans are an undisputed champion. They’re sweet, savory, and packed with a smoky flavor that complements any grilled meat perfectly. This dish is a staple at cookouts, potlucks, and family gatherings, bringing a touch of comfort and nostalgia with every bite.

Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or just starting out, mastering how to make bbq baked beans recipe will elevate your BBQ game to a whole new level. Versatile and easy to customize, BBQ baked beans are the perfect addition to any backyard feast. Let’s dive into how you can make this mouth-watering dish at home!

Why These Beans Are the Best

These BBQ baked beans are not your average side dish; they’re a flavor-packed sensation that stands out at any BBQ.

The secret lies in a few key ingredients and a unique cooking method that transforms simple beans into a culinary masterpiece.

  • Smoked Bacon: Adding a rich, smoky flavor that infuses every bite.
  • Molasses and Brown Sugar: For a perfect balance of sweetness and depth.
  • BBQ Sauce: Your favorite BBQ sauce adds a tangy, savory kick.
  • Onion and Garlic: These aromatics provide a savory foundation.
Making BBQ Baked Beans Recipe

Unique Cooking Method:

The magic happens when you slow-cook these beans, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully. By cooking them low and slow, you achieve a thick, rich consistency that’s bursting with flavor. This method ensures every bite is infused with the smoky, sweet, and savory notes that make these BBQ baked beans unforgettable.

Choosing the Right Beans

Selecting the right beans is crucial for creating the perfect BBQ baked beans. The type of bean you choose affects the texture, flavor, and overall success of your dish. Here’s a breakdown of the best beans to use and why they’re preferred for this classic recipe.

Best Beans for making BBQ Baked Beans
Credits to CNN

Best Beans for BBQ Baked Beans:

  1. Navy Beans:
    • Texture: Small and creamy, these beans hold their shape well during long cooking times.
    • Flavor: Mild flavor that absorbs the smoky and sweet elements of the dish beautifully.
  2. Pinto Beans:
    • Texture: Slightly larger than navy beans, with a soft, creamy texture.
    • Flavor: Earthy and rich, these beans add a robust flavor to the baked beans.
  3. Great Northern Beans:
    • Texture: Medium-sized with a firm yet tender texture.
    • Flavor: Subtle, nutty flavor that complements the sweetness and smokiness of BBQ sauce.

Why These Beans Work:

  • Absorption: These beans absorb the rich, smoky, and sweet flavors from the sauce and spices, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Consistency: They maintain their shape and consistency during the slow-cooking process, ensuring a satisfying bite in every spoonful.
  • Availability: Readily available in most grocery stores, making them convenient choices for home cooks.

While other beans like black beans or kidney beans can be used, they might not provide the same classic texture and flavor profile that navy, pinto, and Great Northern beans offer. Stick with these tried-and-true options for the best results in your BBQ baked beans recipe.

Essential Ingredients

Creating the perfect BBQ baked beans requires a harmonious blend of key ingredients that bring together sweet, smoky, and savory flavors. Here’s a rundown of the essential components you’ll need, along with some variations to customize your flavor profile.

  1. Beans:
    • Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, or Great Northern Beans: Choose based on your texture preference.
  2. Smoked Bacon:
    • Flavor: Adds a rich, smoky depth.
    • Substitution: For a vegetarian version, use smoked paprika or liquid smoke for that smoky essence.
  3. Onion:
    • Flavor: Provides a savory base.
    • Variation: Sweet onions can add a milder flavor, while red onions offer a sharper taste.
  4. Garlic:
    • Flavor: Adds aromatic richness.
    • Substitution: Garlic powder can be used if fresh garlic is unavailable.
  5. BBQ Sauce:
    • Flavor: Key for the tangy, smoky, and sweet profile.
    • Variation: Use your favorite BBQ sauce, or try different flavors like spicy or honey BBQ.
  6. Brown Sugar:
    • Flavor: Adds sweetness and depth.
    • Substitution: Honey or maple syrup can be used for a different sweet profile.
  7. Molasses:
    • Flavor: Provides a deep, rich sweetness.
    • Substitution: Dark corn syrup or more brown sugar can be used in a pinch.
  8. Mustard:
    • Flavor: Adds a tangy bite.
    • Variation: Yellow mustard is traditional, but Dijon or whole grain mustard can offer a unique twist.
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar:
    • Flavor: Balances sweetness with a slight tang.
    • Substitution: White vinegar or lemon juice can be used for a similar effect.
  10. Tomato Paste:
    • Flavor: Adds a rich, concentrated tomato flavor.
    • Substitution: Ketchup can be used for a slightly sweeter taste.

Customization Tips:

  • Spice Level: Add cayenne pepper or chili flakes for extra heat.
  • Smokiness: Incorporate a dash of liquid smoke for an intense smoky flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh thyme or rosemary can add an earthy note.

Spices and Seasonings

Spices and seasonings are the secret to elevating your BBQ baked beans from good to extraordinary. They enhance the dish’s overall flavor profile, adding depth and complexity. Here’s a rundown of essential spices and seasoning options to suit various taste preferences.

Spices and Seasonings for BBQ Baked Beans Recipe
Credits to Allrecipes
  1. Salt and Pepper:
    • Purpose: Basic seasoning to enhance all other flavors.
    • Variation: Use sea salt or kosher salt for a cleaner taste, and freshly ground black pepper for a more robust flavor.
  2. Smoked Paprika:
    • Flavor: Adds a subtle smokiness and mild heat.
    • Variation: Regular paprika can be used if smoked is unavailable, but it won’t add the smoky flavor.
  3. Ground Cumin:
    • Flavor: Provides a warm, earthy undertone.
    • Variation: Toast whole cumin seeds for a more intense flavor before grinding.
  4. Chili Powder:
    • Flavor: Adds a mild heat and rich chili flavor.
    • Variation: Use chipotle chili powder for a smoky, spicy kick.
  5. Mustard Powder:
    • Flavor: Adds a tangy sharpness.
    • Variation: Prepared mustard can be used, but adjust the quantity to taste.
  6. Cayenne Pepper:
    • Flavor: Provides a significant heat.
    • Variation: Adjust the amount based on your heat tolerance, or substitute with red pepper flakes for a similar effect.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Creating delicious BBQ baked beans is a straightforward process when you follow these step-by-step instructions. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each stage, ensuring your beans turn out perfectly every time.


  • 2 cups dried navy beans (or 4 cans of navy beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 6 slices smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step by step instructions on How to Make BBQ Baked Beans
Credits to Vindulge


1. Preparing the Beans

The first step in making delicious BBQ baked beans is properly preparing the beans. Whether you’re using dried beans or canned beans, this preparation is crucial for achieving the best texture and flavor.

For Dried Beans:

  1. Rinse and Sort:
    • Place the dried beans in a colander and rinse them under cold water. Remove any debris or damaged beans.
  2. Soak the Beans:
    • Overnight Soak: Transfer the rinsed beans to a large bowl or pot and cover them with water, allowing at least 2 inches of water above the beans. Soak overnight (8-12 hours).
    • Quick Soak Method: If you’re short on time, place the beans in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and Rinse:
    • After soaking, drain the beans and rinse them under cold water. This helps remove some of the indigestible sugars that can cause gas.
  4. Cook the Beans:
    • Place the soaked beans in a large pot, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours, or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

For Canned Beans:

  1. Drain and Rinse:
    • Simply open the cans of beans, pour them into a colander, and rinse under cold water. This removes the excess salt and any canning liquid, giving you a cleaner bean flavor.
Step by step instructions on How to Make BBQ Baked Beans: soaking the beans
Credits to Chef’s Vision

2. Cook the Bacon:

  1. In a large, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crispy.
  2. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.

3. Sauté the Aromatics:

  1. Add the chopped onion to the pot with the bacon fat. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
Step by step instructions on How to Make BBQ Baked Beans: Cook the dice Bacon
Credits to Mexican Food Journal
Step by step instructions on How to Make BBQ Baked Beans: Sauté the Aromatics
Credits to wikiHow
Step by step instructions on How to Make BBQ Baked Beans: mixing and combining
Credits to Mary’s Whole Life

4. Mix the Sauce:

  1. In the pot with the onions and garlic, stir in the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and tomato paste.
  2. Add the smoked paprika, ground cumin, chili powder, mustard powder, cayenne pepper (if using), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well.

5. Combine Everything:

  1. Add the cooked or canned beans to the pot, stirring to coat them evenly with the sauce.
  2. Stir in the cooked bacon pieces.

6. Bake the Beans:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Cover the pot or Dutch oven with a lid or aluminum foil.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The beans are ready when they are thick and bubbly, and the flavors are well melded.

7. Adjust Seasonings:

  1. Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper, or sugar as needed.
  2. For a thicker consistency, remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of baking.

8. Serving:

Serve your BBQ baked beans hot, straight from the oven. They pair perfectly with grilled meats, cornbread, or a fresh green salad. Enjoy this classic side dish at your next BBQ or family gathering!

Serving Easy BBQ Baked Beans Recipe
Credits to The Farmwife Feeds

Cooking Techniques

Once your beans are prepped, it’s time to cook them. There are several methods to choose from, depending on your available equipment and desired flavor profile. Here are three popular techniques:

Time Frames and Temperature Settings:

  • Slow Cooker: Low for 6-8 hours, High for 3-4 hours
  • Smoker: 250°F (120°C) for 2-3 hours
  • Oven: 300°F (150°C) for 2-3 hours

Slow Cooker:

  1. Combine Ingredients:
    • Add the prepared beans, bacon, sautéed onions and garlic, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, and spices into the slow cooker. Stir well to combine.
  2. Set Temperature:
    • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the beans are thick and flavorful. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.


  1. Preheat Smoker: Preheat your smoker to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Combine Ingredients: In a smoker-safe pot or disposable aluminum pan, combine the prepared beans with the bacon, onions, garlic, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, and spices. Stir well.
  3. Smoke the Beans: Place the pot or pan in the smoker and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The beans should be thick and bubbly with a deep, smoky flavor.
Cooking Techniques for Easy BBQ Baked Beans Recipe
Credits to The Cozy Apron


  1. Preheat Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Combine Ingredients:
    • In an oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, mix together the prepared beans, bacon, onions, garlic, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, and spices. Stir well.
  3. Bake the Beans:
    • Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally and remove the lid during the last 30 minutes if you prefer a thicker consistency.

Loving this recipe? You might want to try our How To BBQ Right Chili – Bonafide Chili Recipe for another delicious option!

Tips for Perfect Baked Beans

1. Balance Sweet and Savory:

  • Sweetness: Use brown sugar, molasses, or maple syrup to add depth and sweetness. Adjust to taste, starting with the recommended amounts and adding more if desired.
  • Savory: Counterbalance the sweetness with savory elements like bacon, onions, and garlic. Mustard and apple cider vinegar add a tangy kick that complements the sweetness.

2. Control the Smokiness:

  • Bacon: Using smoked bacon adds a natural smoky flavor. For a stronger smoky taste, add a few drops of liquid smoke or use smoked paprika.
  • Cooking Method: Cooking the beans in a smoker will infuse them with a deeper, more authentic smoky flavor compared to oven or slow cooker methods.

3. Achieve the Right Consistency:

  • Cooking Time: The longer the beans cook, the thicker the sauce will become. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
  • Uncovering: For a thicker sauce, remove the lid or foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow excess liquid to evaporate.
  • Starch: Beans naturally release starch, which helps thicken the sauce. Ensure your beans are well-cooked to release this starch fully.

4. Layer Flavors:

  • Aromatics: Sauté onions and garlic before adding them to the beans to release their flavors more effectively.
  • Spices: Toasting dry spices like cumin, chili powder, and mustard powder can enhance their flavors before adding them to the mix.
  • Taste as You Go: Adjust seasonings gradually, tasting frequently to achieve the perfect balance.

5. Avoid Over-Salting:

  • Salt: Beans absorb salt as they cook, which can make them overly salty. Add salt sparingly at first and adjust towards the end of cooking.
  • Bacon: If using bacon, keep in mind it can be salty, so adjust additional salt accordingly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even experienced cooks can make mistakes when preparing BBQ baked beans. Here are some common errors and tips on how to avoid them, ensuring your beans turn out perfect every time.

1. Skipping the Soak for Dried Beans

  • Mistake: Not soaking dried beans results in uneven cooking and a tough texture.
  • Solution: Always soak dried beans overnight or use the quick soak method to ensure they cook evenly and become tender.

2. Over- or Under-Cooking the Beans

  1. Mistake: Overcooked beans turn mushy, while undercooked beans remain hard and gritty.
  2. Solution: Monitor the beans closely and taste test as they cook. They should be tender but not falling apart.

3. Using Low-Quality Ingredients

  • Mistake: Low-quality beans, bacon, or BBQ sauce can result in bland or unbalanced flavors.
  • Solution: Invest in high-quality beans, fresh bacon, and a BBQ sauce you enjoy to enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

4. Ignoring the Balance of Flavors

  • Mistake: Overloading on sweetness or smokiness can overpower the dish.
  • Solution: Taste and adjust the balance of sweet, smoky, and tangy flavors as you go. Aim for harmony between all elements.

5. Neglecting to Stir

  • Mistake: Beans can stick to the bottom of the pot and burn if not stirred occasionally.
  • Solution: Stir the beans every 30-45 minutes to ensure even cooking and prevent burning.

6. Adding Ingredients All at Once

  1. Mistake: Dumping all ingredients in at once can prevent proper flavor development.
  2. Solution: Layer flavors by sautéing aromatics first, then gradually adding other ingredients to build depth.

Serving Suggestions

BBQ baked beans are a versatile side dish that complements a wide range of main courses, especially those featuring grilled or smoked meats. Here are some delicious pairing ideas that will enhance your meal experience and make your BBQ feast unforgettable.

Serving BBQ Baked Beans
Credits to Homesick Texan

1. Classic BBQ Meats:

  • Smoked Ribs: The smoky, tender meat of smoked ribs pairs perfectly with the sweet and savory flavors of BBQ baked beans.
  • Pulled Pork: The rich, succulent pulled pork, especially when drenched in BBQ sauce, finds an ideal companion in these beans.
  • Grilled Chicken: Whether you opt for drumsticks, thighs, breasts, grilled chicken’s savory are perfect pair for this.
  • Grilled Turkey: The tenderness and smokiness of grilled turkey paired beautifully with this baked beans will surely elevate your meal.

2. Grilled Sausages:

  • Bratwurst: The robust flavor of bratwurst sausages, especially when grilled, pairs exceptionally well with the tangy and sweet baked beans.
  • Italian Sausage: The savory and sometimes spicy notes of Italian sausages complement the beans’ rich, smoky flavor.

3. Cornbread:

  • Classic Cornbread: The slightly sweet, crumbly texture of cornbread is a traditional pairing with BBQ baked beans, offering a delightful contrast.
  • Jalapeño Cornbread: For those who like a bit of heat, jalapeño cornbread adds a spicy kick that complements the beans’ flavors.

4. Beverages:

  • Iced Tea: A refreshing glass of iced tea, whether sweetened or unsweetened, is a classic pairing with BBQ fare.
  • Lemonade: The tart, sweet flavor of lemonade provides a refreshing contrast to the smoky, savory beans.
  • Beer: A cold beer, especially a light lager or a smoky porter, complements the rich flavors of BBQ baked beans.

Storing and Reheating

BBQ baked beans are not only delicious fresh out of the oven but also make fantastic leftovers. Proper storage and reheating methods are key to maintaining their quality and taste. Here’s how to do it right.

Storing Leftovers:

  1. Cool Completely:
    • Allow the beans to cool to room temperature before storing. This helps prevent condensation and maintains their texture.
  2. Airtight Containers:
    • Transfer the beans to airtight containers. Glass containers with tight-fitting lids are ideal, but plastic containers or heavy-duty freezer bags also work well.
  3. Refrigeration:
    • Store the beans in the refrigerator if you plan to eat them within 3-5 days. Label the containers with the date to keep track of freshness.
  4. Freezing:
    • For longer storage, you can freeze the beans. Place them in freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space at the top for expansion. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
    • Tip: Portion the beans into smaller containers or bags for easier reheating and to avoid thawing more than you need.

Reheating Methods:

  1. Stovetop:
    • Method: Place the beans in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even heating.
    • Time: Reheat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the beans are hot throughout.
    • Tip: Add a splash of water or broth if the beans are too thick.
  2. Microwave:
    • Method: Transfer a portion of the beans to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap (leave a small vent).
    • Time: Heat on medium power for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through. Continue heating in 1-minute increments until hot.
    • Tip: Add a bit of water or broth if the beans dry out during reheating.
  3. Oven:
    • Method: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the beans in an oven-safe dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake.
    • Time: Reheat for about 20-30 minutes, or until hot. Stir halfway through to ensure even heating.
    • Tip: Add a small amount of water or broth before covering if the beans have thickened too much.
  4. Slow Cooker:
    • Method: Transfer the beans to a slow cooker and set to low heat.
    • Time: Reheat for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are warmed through.
    • Tip: This method is excellent for reheating large quantities without drying them out.

Nutritional Information

BBQ baked beans are a flavorful side dish that can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Here’s a breakdown of the typical nutritional content per serving, focusing on calories, macronutrients, and notable micronutrients.

Nutritional Content Per Serving (1 cup):

  • Calories: 300-350
  • Total Fat: 6-8 grams
    • Saturated Fat: 2-3 grams
    • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 15-20 milligrams
  • Sodium: 600-800 milligrams (can vary based on added salt and ingredients)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 50-55 grams
    • Dietary Fiber: 10-12 grams
    • Sugars: 15-20 grams
  • Protein: 10-12 grams


  1. Carbohydrates:
    • Complex Carbs: Beans are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, providing sustained energy.
    • Dietary Fiber: High fiber content aids in digestion and helps maintain a feeling of fullness.
    • Sugars: Includes natural sugars from molasses and brown sugar, contributing to the sweet flavor profile.
  2. Protein:
    • Beans are a good plant-based protein source, making this dish suitable for vegetarians (if made without bacon).
    • Bacon adds additional protein and a smoky flavor.
  3. Fats:
    • Healthy Fats: Some fats from beans and added ingredients like olive oil or bacon.
    • Saturated Fats: Present mainly from bacon and any butter or fatty meats used.


Yes, you can easily make BBQ baked beans vegetarian or vegan by omitting the bacon and using vegetable oil or a plant-based bacon substitute. To maintain the smoky flavor, add smoked paprika or a few drops of liquid smoke.

If your BBQ baked beans are too watery, you can remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of baking to allow some liquid to evaporate. Alternatively, you can simmer them on the stovetop until they reach your desired consistency.

Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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