These smoky Homemade Baked Beans are the consummate Summer side dish. They're made by simmering them slowly in the oven covered with a sauce that's perfectly seasoned flavored with molasses and bacon. They're the ideal choice for any celebration.
Homemade Baked Beans Recipe
Baked beans have many faces and people tend to season them in many different ways. It's a forgiving dish that allows plenty of room to get creative. I have several different variations in the recipe index. Easy Slow Cooked Country Ribs and Barbecue Beans filled with tender fall apart pork rib meat as well as Root Beer Baked Beans with a sweet sauce. Southern style Barbecue Baked Beans are filled with ground beef and bacon which practically turns them into a complete meal when paired with hot buttered cornbread.
Helpful Tips for Making Baked Beans
These beans are simple as they begin with fully cooked navy beans to keep prep down to a minimum. I always like to include just a few pointers to help you make them:
- Should you prefer to make your own navy beans, you can certainly do so. See the next section for the how-to.
- Three cans of beans are needed for this recipe. There's no need to rinse them but, I typically drain two cans and keep the juices from the third can. If you like soupy baked beans, you may opt to use the juice from two cans.
- Please note: This recipe uses classic molasses and not blackstrap molasses which can leave a bitter after taste.
- If you like heat, consider adding a chopped jalapeno to the mix of peppers for kick.
- You can use more, or less bacon to your personal taste.
- You can make these in any similar size baking dish. When baking in a round skillet as pictured, slice the bacon slices in half so, they'll fit better.
- Check the beans at the 1 hour point and lay foil loosely on top to prevent the bacon from over browning.
- These beans can be completely assembled in advance then chilled until you're ready to bake them.
- You can also bake, cool and freeze leftovers for another meal.
How to Make Navy Beans from Scratch
If you prefer to make the beans needed for this recipe from scratch, you can. To do so, plan ahead so, they'll have time to soak and soften.
- Wash and pick through beans removing any debris or blemished beans.
- Place into a large bowl or pot and cover with cold water. Keep in a cool place or chill for 8 hours up to overnight.
- Drain the water then place into a deep pot. Allow 3-4 cups of cold water or chicken stock for each cup of dry beans.
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer covered for 60-90 minutes, just until tender.
- Be prepared to add more water or stock while cooking, if needed to prevent them from boiling dry.
- Add desired amount of salt, herbs or bay leaves for flavor.
- See also how to make The Famous Senate Navy Bean Soup here on United States Senate.gov website.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Homemade Baked Beans
- 1 lb bacon
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 medium poblano or green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 15 oz cans navy beans (drain two cans reserving liquid in third can)
- ½ cup dark molasses
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp yellow or whole grain mustard
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp pinto bean seasoning OR barbecue seasoning i.e. Badia Pinto Beans seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- chopped fresh chives for garnishing
- In a large skillet cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. (Reserve 6 slices uncooked for the top) Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving drippings in skillet. Crumble or cut into bite size pieces.
- To the drippings add onion, poblano and red bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or just until softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.
- To a large mixing bowl, add beans, ketchup, molasses, mustard, vinegar, liquid smoke, brown sugar, pinto bean seasoning, salt and lemon pepper. Add cooked vegetables and crumbled bacon. Mix until fully combined.
- To bake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 3 quart baking dish or oven safe skillet with cooking spray. (Round or rectangular) Pour bean mixture into the dish. Top with reserved uncooked bacon slices.
- Bake for 1 ½ - 2 hours, until bubbly and reduced. Check at 1 hour and lay foil on top if needed, to prevent bacon from over browning.
- Let stand 5 minutes, then serve garnished with chives, if desired.