Simmer

Baked Beans

May  7, 2021
4 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Baked beans may come out of a can more commonly than out of a pan, but we guarantee that a great homemade baked bean recipe will win over a tin every time. Whether you’re creating a classic line-up of sides for a “play the hits” barbecue, crafting a hearty game day feast for a crowd, or serving them as part of a loaded full English breakfast, baked beans in all their glorious forms are always welcome at the table.

Thick, sweet, and savory, these beans are delicious no matter which variety you use—and you can use most types of beans. Pick your favorite, or use two kinds of beans to mix it up, and give them a full 24 hours of soaking to ensure they’ll fully tenderize during cooking (though this recipe is also a surefire way to make canned beans better if you’re in a hurry).

I like to use bacon drippings as the fat owing to the famous flavor pairing of smoky pork and beans, but these baked beans can easily be made vegetarian by using butter, or vegan using your preferred cooking oil (or porkier by adding your smoked pork of choice). If you think the flavor of your beans would benefit from a dash of Worcestershire sauce, drizzle of molasses, or even a splash of tangy barbecue sauce—go for it! I add a little chipotle powder for added smokiness and a hint of heat that pairs especially well with grilled proteins and vegetables.
Merrill Stubbs

Watch This Recipe
Baked Beans
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound cranberry, pinto or cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • salt
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 small onion, diced (keep the ends for the beans)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat, oil, or butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pinch chipotle powder (optional)
  • 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cover the beans by at least an inch with cold water. Add a few pinches of salt and the thyme, garlic, and onion ends, and simmer until tender, about an hour.
  2. When the beans are close to being done, heat the oven to 250°F. Using a heavy, shallow ovenproof pan, sauté the onion in the bacon fat over medium-low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Stir the beans and 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid into the sauce in the pan. Cover the pan and put it in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, until the beans are very soft and the sauce has thickened a bit.
  4. Uncover the pan and cook until the sauce is quite dry and the edges of the pan are slightly caramelized, another 20 to 30 minutes, and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • maam
    maam
  • ChristyBean
    ChristyBean
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
  • aclincol
    aclincol

14 Reviews

aclincol February 6, 2021
Made it as directed with a bit of jarred chipotle paste. And tomatoes from the freezer. It was easy and really delicious. The perfect amount of sweetness. Thanks!
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. February 9, 2021
So glad you enjoyed it, and great idea to add chipotle paste!
 
JJGood April 21, 2020
Would I regret adding some diced carrots along with the onions for a little extra veg?
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. February 9, 2021
Oh, JJ! I missed your question way back in April -- I'm so sorry! What did you end up doing?
 
JJGood February 9, 2021
I still haven’t made them, actually! I can’t remember why I didn’t at the time—but I don’t think it was for want of carrot advice :)
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. February 9, 2021
Ha! Well, for the record I think adding carrots wouldn't hurt!
 
food52fan July 9, 2019
Like others who have commented, I'm also wondering whether the recipe calls for 2 tomatoes, or 2 cans of tomatoes. If cans, what size? I'm leaning toward just 2 tomatoes but would like to be sure. This will be a side dish for a family bbq. Looks delicious!
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. July 9, 2019
Apologies, it should read "2 cups chopped canned tomatoes" -- fixing now!
 
food52fan July 9, 2019
Wow, that was fast! Thanks, Merrill! Your recipe is on my menu for my mom's 85th birthday party this weekend!
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. July 9, 2019
Happy birthday to your mom!!
 
food52fan July 9, 2019
Thank you! :-D
 
Rachel April 3, 2018
Delicious. This is a keeper and will go into regular rotation in my house. I was liberal with the spices because we like things on the hot side and used butter since that's what I had. I have a home office and this is perfect to make during my mid-afternoon "coffee break". I can leave it in the oven and have something that smells wonderful while cooking and is ready for dinner when I shut off my computer.
 
maam November 1, 2015
Very good.
I served them with BBQ dry rubbed pork loin chops. I was looking to find a recipe substitute for the high sodium canned beans...this is definitely it.
They have a nice subtle more sophisticated flavour. As per popular request though (my husband), I will make an extra batch of the sauce. I will cook it in the oven separately for him to use with the beans and pork chops. I feel if I doubled the sauce in the recipe it would ruin that nice caramelization that occurs stove top at the end of the cooking time. Some extra served in a nice ramekin on the side would then be a good solution for the both of us.
 
ChristyBean January 7, 2014
I made this last night, and the husband loved it. I think I got him off of Heinz's canned baked beans, ha! I wasn't sure about the tomatoes (2 15-oz cans of chopped tomatoes or two whole, canned tomatoes that have then been chopped??), and since I threw the pan in the oven before leaving for aquagym, I put in 2 cans for fear of the beans drying out. This version was very tomatoey and delicious with a fried egg on top with some bread on the side. I need to find more non-slow-cooker recipes that I can throw in the oven for 90 minutes and come home to a meal ready to go!