The perfect blend of tangy and sweet, these crock pot baked beans are perfect for any BBQ or party! They’ll stay warm all evening, but they’ll disappear quickly!
Why you’ll love it: They are very easy to make.
How long it takes: 4 to 8 hours, depending on whether you cook them on High or Low
Equipment you’ll need: slow cooker
Baked beans are usually one of the most popular dishes at the party. They’re fantastic for get-togethers like potlucks or picnics because they’ll stay warm all evening in your crock pot.
It’s so true that “It’s not what you look like, it’s what’s inside that counts!” or “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Both pithy aphorisms apply to these humble-appearing crock pot baked beans. Unassuming and brown, they aren’t showy until you take a bite.
After that first bite, you realize that they’re packed full of flavor and are the life of the party. Baked beans are a perfect balance of tangy and sweet and the smoky bits of bacon will keep you coming back for more.
As with most of my recipes, you can adjust this recipe to fit your tastes. I should copy and paste that line because I feel like I use it with nearly every recipe.
But it’s true! I want you to love every single one of my recipes! Even if at first glance it doesn’t seem perfect, we’ll figure out a way to make it perfect for you. Don’t you worry!
So let’s talk.
About these “baked” beans
You could say that the title of this recipe is a bit of a misnomer. These beans aren’t baked at all. They have all the attributes of baked beans but they don’t spend a bit of time in the oven. You’ll use your crockpot to achieve the same effect.
They really couldn’t be any easier to make! The recipe starts with canned beans (but not canned baked beans!). Basically you’re doctoring them up and letting them slowly cook to perfection.
Slow cooker baked beans are perfect for parties or potlucks because you make them ahead, switch the slow cooker to warm, and the beans are ready to serve (until they disappear).
They’re based on my recipe for baked beans that are really are baked in the oven. They are nice and tangy thanks to ketchup, mustard, and vinegar; and they’re sticky sweet thanks to dark brown sugar and molasses. They really are quite irresistible.
I’ll run through the recipe here and give you helpful tips before you get started. Look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Great Northern Beans: Buy a large jar of beans or three cans. Great Northern beans are a mild-tasting white bean. If you can’t find them, substitute navy beans or cannelini beans.
- Butter Beans: These larger sized white beans are actually lima beans. They provide a nice visual and textural contrast to the smaller sized Great Northern beans. Other beans could be substituted if you like.
- Bacon: Beans and bacon go together hand in hand. Bacon adds a nice smoky flavor. But don’t worry, the Make It Your Own section has suggestions for making these beans vegetarian or vegan.
- Onion: Use any type of onion you happen to have. Dice it finely so there aren’t big chunks in the cooked beans.
- Ketchup: This condiment is the tangy base of the sauce. Use your favorite brand. We like the brands that are lower in sugar and don’t include high fructose corn syrup in the list of ingredients.
- Dark Brown Sugar: There’s usually a fair amount of sugar in baked beans. Dark brown sugar enhances the molasses flavor.
- Molasses: Such great flavor comes from the molasses! Use either light or dark molasses, whichever you happen to have. (If you wondering what you’ll do with the rest of the jar, try homemade gingersnaps!)
- Dijon Mustard: There are so many types of mustard. Dijon adds plenty of zippy flavor but if you prefer another type, go ahead and substitute it.
- White Vinegar: Acidic and tangy, vinegar counterbalances the sugar and molasses so that the beans aren’t cloyingly sweet. Apple cider vinegar can be substituted.
- Salt & Pepper: Add these two seasonings to taste.
How To Make This Recipe
Plan on cooking the beans for either four hours on High or six to eight hours on Low. Either way is fine so choose according to your schedule. If the beans are done before you’re ready to serve them, just turn the crockpot to Warm and the beans will be just fine. They are super flexible.
Set a colander inside your sink. Open the beans and pour them into the colander. Rinse them with cool water and let them drain.
Chop the raw bacon into small pieces. Peel and dice an onion. Measure out the remaining ingredients and just dump everything into the slow cooker, including the beans.
Give it all a good stir and guess what? The prep work for this recipe is finished!
Put the cover on and let the beans cook. That couldn’t be easier, right?
Wondering what to serve with your yummy baked beans? Keep reading…
What to Eat with Baked Beans
This list is endless in my opinion. I especially love them with traditional BBQ foods or at a potluck. Consider:
- Hamburgers, hot dogs, or grilled brats
- Pulled pork (or Instant Pot pulled pork)
- Ribs (or Instant Pot ribs)
- Bacon wrapped chicken breasts (stuffed with avocado and cheddar, YES)
- On toast for a quick lunch or dinner
- Air fryer grilled cheese sandwiches
- Loaded baked potatoes
- Cheesy potatoes
- Baked macaroni and cheese
Most certainly! Adding lots of delicious ingredients and simmering plain canned beans is the easiest and tastiest way to make baked beans. You don’t have to soak them or stir them and the plain beans are permeated with sweet and tangy flavor.
If you like to cook with economical dry beans, try my recipe for crockpot refried beans.
Any type of canned beans can be cooked in a slow cooker. However, if you are cooking dry beans in a slow cooker, there are a couple of cautions. Kidney beans contain a toxin which can cause food poisoning. This includes cannellini beans which are white kidney beans.
To remove this threat, soak dry kidney beans in cold water for five or more hours. Drain and rinse the beans; add clean water to cover. Bring the beans to a boil and boil for at least 10 minutes. After that, you can finish cooking the beans using any method you choose, including a slow cooker.
According to the Bush’s Baked Beans website, the original beans are made with navy beans, along with bacon, brown sugar, and a secret blend of spices.
Make It Your Own
- Make this recipe vegetarian (and vegan, for that matter) by leaving out the bacon. Such a simple change! You could add a smoky flavor by adding a splash of liquid smoke, or a teaspoon of smoked paprika (the paprika would be my first choice).
- Beef them up: Want them to be even heartier? Brown a pound of ground beef (or ground turkey) and add that to the mix.
- Want BBQ baked beans? Substitute your favorite barbecue sauce for the ketchup.
- Make them extra smoky: Amp it up with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (in addition to the bacon).
- Add some spicy heat: Add 1 diced jalapeño (leave the ribs and seeds in for extra heat), or cayenne powder (start with a quarter teaspoon).
- Like them extra sweet? Add more brown sugar, or add honey or maple syrup.
- Looking for a faster bean recipe? Try Instant Pot pinto beans (no soaking necessary), or frijoles borrachos (drunken beans).
If you’re know you’re really going to be in a rush (i.e. you have to make them before you go to work), mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning, you can simply transfer it all to your crockpot, turn it on, and walk away.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Leftover baked beans can be stored in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to 4 days. They can be frozen for up to six months. Thaw the beans overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat, warm them over low heat in a saucepan on the stove. Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave but be aware that the beans tend to explode. Be sure to cover the dish.
More Side Dishes For A Perfect BBQ
Okay, this list could also be endless, but here are a few reader favorites from Rachel Cooks:
- Taco Salad – such a classic recipe!
- Potato Salad (easy & creamy!)
- Healthy Coleslaw Recipe or Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
- Tortellini Pasta Salad – another classic
- Bruschetta Orzo Pasta Salad – this one is a reader favorite!
- 7 Layer Dip – this is THE BEST 7 layer dip, it always vanishes
- Mexican Corn Dip – a little lighter than the 7 layer dip, but just as big of a hit
- Black Bean and Avocado Salad (great with chips!)
- 1 jar (48 oz.) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (or three 15.8 ounce cans)
- 1 can (15.25 oz.) butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 6 oz. sliced bacon, cut into ½″ chunks (center-cut preferable)
- ¾ cup ketchup
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker or crock pot; stir well.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Stir and reduce heat to keep warm when finished cooking.
- Store leftover beans in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- For vegetarian or vegan beans: Omit bacon. Substitute 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika for a slightly smoky flavor.
- For meaty beans: Brown a pound of ground beef and add that to the mix.
- BBQ baked beans: Substitute your favorite barbecue sauce for the ketchup.
- Make them extra smoky: Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (and the bacon).
- Add some heat: Add 1 diced jalapeño (leave the ribs and seeds in for extra heat), or cayenne powder, to taste (start with a ¼ teaspoon).
- Like them extra sweet? Add more brown sugar, or add honey or maple syrup.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.