Popular at picnics and potlucks, this baked beans recipe is sweet and tangy, and just watch those beans disappear. Everyone loves them!
Why you’ll love it: They’re a potluck and BBQ super star!
How long it takes: just over two hours, mostly hands off
Equipment you’ll need: baking dish, small bowl, and a spoon
Servings: 8 generous servings
Homemade baked beans are just the greatest! I’m a big fan of all things baked beans (yes, even canned) but really nothing beats homemade. These baked beans are the perfect combination of sweet and tangy and I could eat the whole pan but that might be a potentially bad situation.
Bring these baked beans to your next family party, reunion, potluck, or picnic. I guarantee you won’t be bringing any home with you. Everyone will be asking for your recipe. They go great with grilled burgers, hot dogs and sloppy Joes.
One thing I really like about these beans is that they aren’t super runny. Sometimes you almost need a bowl for your beans or the juice runs all over your plate. This recipe makes a thicker, more sticky baked bean casserole that stays put on your plate. That is, until you shovel them into your mouth.
For a really traditional picnic, serve baked beans with homemade creamy potato salad and classic coleslaw. These mini patriotic fruit tarts are perfect for Memorial Day or Fourth of July celebrations and they’re super simple and festive.
About these baked beans
These beans are easy to make. It shouldn’t take you more than fifteen minutes to prepare them. However, they do need to bake awhile, two hours, more or less. Don’t worry about timing things exactly. Baked beans are pretty easy going.
Here’s a quick rundown of the recipe with a few extra tips and ideas.
As always, you’ll find the complete printable recipe with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information near the end of this post.
What You’ll Need
- Canned beans: A large jar of great Northern beans, along with over-sized butter beans, gives a nice textural contrast. If you’d prefer to use all great Northern beans, that’s totally fine too. Whatever type you use, make sure to rinse and drain them.
- Onion: Lots of chopped onion go into these beans. They’ll cook down so don’t worry about finding chunks of onion in the beans. Any type of onion works, but we love a sweet onion.
- Bacon: Bacon adds a nice smoky salty flavor to the beans. Keep reading for variations.
- Ketchup: A good amount of ketchup adds tomato tanginess and gives the beans a nice saucy consistency. We like to choose a variety without high-fructose corn syrup, but pick your favorite.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar can be substituted, too. Adjust the amount according to how sweet you like baked beans.
- Molasses: You’ll find that molasses adds so much flavor to beans. Don’t skip the molasses!
- Dijon Mustard: Really, any type of mustard is fine. Even dried mustard would work for this recipe.
- White Vinegar: Vinegar contributes to the tanginess of the beans. Other types of vinegar are fine, too, especially cider vinegar. Avoid balsamic vinegar.
How to make baked beans
Basically, there are two easy steps to prepare the beans for baking. Mix the beans, diced bacon, and chopped onion in a large baking dish. There’s no need to cook the bacon first.
Next, mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or large measuring cup: ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, mustard and vinegar.
Pour the sauce over the beans, bacon, and onions.
Stir until everything is good and mixed up.
Bake the beans in your oven. Give them a stir halfway through the cooking time. If the beans seem like they’re getting dry, cover them with foil. Sometimes, I cover the beans with foil for the first hour, and then bake them uncovered for the last hour. It’s up to you. It kind of depends on how saucy you like your beans.
Beans are a good source of plant protein and fiber, along with many nutrients (Healthline). They can be low in calories depending on what’s added to them. Often canned baked beans have a lot of added sodium so it’s healthier to make your own. Just remember that adding a lot of sugar and bacon, while making the beans really tasty, may detract from the health benefits of baked beans.
If you cover the beans during the baking time, they will be juicier. If you like them thicker, or not as saucy, leave them uncovered the entire baking time.
Interestingly, the city of Boston in Massachusetts, has a nickname of “Beantown” because of their famous baked beans. Dating back to colonial times, early settlers learned from Native Americans how to grow and cook nutritious dried beans. Using molasses as a sweetener, often the beans were started on Saturday night to be eaten on the Sabbath. Boston baked beans are still traditionally made with dried navy beans (a small white bean), molasses, and salt pork, and are baked for a long period of time. If you like, try these Boston Baked Beans by Serious Eats.
Most baked beans recipes today are more tangy and usually include brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and bacon. There are many recipes which are often passed down from generation to generation. Often baked beans aren’t baked at all but cooked in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.
Make It Your Own
- Make vegetarian baked beans by omitting the bacon.
- If you’re not a fan of bacon but still want meaty beans, try ground beef, turkey, or sausage. Brown before adding it to the beans. Link sausages can be added as well, or even hot dogs. Some people like to place the bacon strips on top of the beans instead of mixing it in.
- Substitute different types of canned beans. If you’d rather start with dry beans, cook them as directed on the package before proceeding with this recipe. An Instant Pot works great for cooking dried beans quickly.
- Looking for a new twist? Try frijoles borrachos (drunken beans) with a southwestern flair.
While the beans really don’t take too long to put together, if you want to get a jump on things, get them ready to bake up to a day ahead and refrigerate in a covered container.
If you’re using a glass baking dish, let it come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes so that it doesn’t break when you place it in your hot oven.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Store leftover baked beans in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. If they seem a little drier, add a bit of water or broth before reheating. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.
Reheating over low heat on the stovetop is the best method, but sometimes the microwave is just quicker and easier.
However, beans tend to explode when heated in the microwave so cover the dish to save yourself clean-up time, and don’t overheat.
More bean recipes
Baked beans aren’t the only way to eat beans. I try to incorporate beans into my menu whenever I can. They are really good for you! Try:
- Instant Pot Black Bean Soup (no need to soak beans)
- Bean and Bacon Soup (canned or dry beans) — similar to the canned version but lots better!
- Air Fryer Chickpeas — a crispy snack
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Blackberries & Candied Pepitas
- Moroccan Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas
- 7 Layer Dip Recipe THE BEST!
- Black Bean Dip Recipe — also a great sandwich spread!
- Ground Turkey Soup with Beans & Spinach (20 minutes!) — one of my most requested recipes!
- 15 Bean Soup
- Vegetarian Tacos with Delicata Squash and Black Beans
- 1 jar (48 oz). great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15.25 oz.) butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups finely diced yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)
- 6 oz. sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups ketchup
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Add beans, onion, and bacon to a 9×13-inch baking dish; mix.
- In a small bowl, stir together ketchup, molasses, mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar. Pour over bean mixture and mix until evenly distributed.
- Place beans in oven and bake for 2 hours, stirring once halfway through baking time.
- Yield: 7 cups.
- For vegetarian baked beans, omit bacon.
- Other types of canned beans may be substituted.
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.