People always tell me these are the best baked beans they’ve ever had. They’re sweet, savory and meaty and so easy to make.
5 from 2 votes
pot of baked beans.

By Christie Vanover | Published June 30, 2022 | Last Updated June 30, 2022

Home | Recipes | Best Baked Beans

I never knew how good baked beans could be until I had a taste of my father-in-law’s baked beans recipe. Now, it’s the only recipe I ever make and it’s ALWAYS a hit at home and at parties.

pot of baked beans.

Ingredients for Baked Beans

baked beans ingredients: italian sausage, baked beans, peppers, onion, garlic, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Baked Beans: Use two cans of Bush’s Baked beans – any of their flavor combos work, but I like the one with bacon and brown sugar.
  • Italian Sausage: I recommend using the mild for your first time making the recipes, but you could also go with the spicy sausage, if you like more heat.
  • Bell Peppers: Use 4 or 5 sweet mini peppers or one large red bell pepper.
  • BBQ Sauce: This will help form the base of your baked beans, so pick a sauce that’s a little sweet and a little spicy for good balance.
  • Yellow Mustard: I prefer using yellow mustard instead of dry mustard, because you get the added acidity from the vinegar in the mustard.

Substitutions: You can substitute the Italian sausage with ground beef, ground turkey or breakfast sausage.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

Equipment Needed to Make Baked Beans

This is a one-pot recipe. You can sauté and combine all of the ingredients in one pot and then heat it in the same pot.

  • Cutting Board and Chef’s Knife
  • Can Opener
  • Large Pot
  • Wooden Spoon

What Kind of Beans are Baked Beans

Baked beans are traditionally made with Navy beans. They are small compared to kidney beans and when cooked down, they are tender and creamy.

You could use dry beans and make homemade baked beans from scratch, but honestly it takes way too long. You have to pick them to remove any stones, soak them overnight and then boil them for hours, so they’re soft.

As an alternative, you could buy pre-cooked canned Navy beans, but they’re pretty flavorless, which means you’d have to cook the beans for a long time to absorb the most flavors.

My favorite beans for baked beans are Bush’s canned baked beans. I’m not sponsored to say that. I just really like them, because the beans have good texture and the sauce they’re canned with is always so flavorful..

They come in lots of different flavors. Personally, I like the ones that include bacon and brown sugar.

How to Make Canned Baked Beans Taste Even Better

You could just heat up canned baked beans and they’d be good, but to make the best baked beans, you need to doctor the can up a bit.

I start by browning ground Italian sausage in a large pot. The spices in the ground pork add so much flavor to this recipe. I usually use the mild sausage, but if you like heat, go with the hot stuff.

Browned Italian sausage in pot with sauteed peppers, onion and garlic.

I’ve also used Jimmy Dean maple sausage mixed with the Italian sausage. It’s equally as good, but not as easy to find year-round.

Ground beef works too, but it’s not pre-seasoned, so it’s good, but we’re making the best baked beans, so go with the sausage.

Once the meat is browned, don’t drain it. Add bell pepper, sweet onion and garlic right to the large pot and sauté them, until they’re tender.

Then, you can remove everything from the heat and mix in the beans, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, mustard and salt and pepper.

At this point, you can refrigerate the beans or you can heat them right away.

Different Ways to Heat Baked Beans

At this point, all of the ingredients are cooked, so the next step is heating them up.

Baked beans in pot on grill with hot dogs.

My favorite way to heat baked beans is on a 350F-degree smoker over indirect heat. Pellet grills work great for this. Just place the pot on the smoker uncovered. In 30 minutes, they’ll be heated through and smokey.

You can also place them on a gas grill over indirect heat or in 350F-degree oven. And you can grill up your hot dogs or hamburgers right next to them.

You’ll know they’re ready when the edges start to bubble.

pot of baked beans bubbling around edges.

If you’re taking them to a party and need to keep them warm, heat them in a slow cooker and set it to low. They can be held in the slow cooker for hours – but once you serve them, I promise they won’t last that long.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Start with canned baked beans in a brown sugar and bacon sauce
  • Use Italian sausage to add incredible flavor
  • Select a barbecue sauce that’s a little sweet with a little heat
  • Heat everything on the smoker to make these the best baked beans ever

Frequently Asked Questions

Can baked beans be made in advance?

Absolutely. Brown the meat and sauté the veggies and combine the rest of the ingredients. Then, refrigerate the beans. You can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 days. Then, when you’re ready, heat them for 45 minutes. This method will take a bit longer to heat, because all of the ingredients will be cold.

How long can you keep baked beans?

As with any food dish, they should only be kept at room temperature for two hours or less. If you need to keep them longer, use a slow cooker to keep them above 140F degrees. Any leftovers can be saved for 1-2 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze baked beans?

You sure can. When it’s time to reheat them, let them thaw in the refrigerator. Then, heat them on the smoker, grill, oven or even the microwave.

Are baked beans healthy?

The Navy beans, bell pepper, onion and garlic are healthy and full of fiber, but once you add the sausage, BBQ sauce and syrup, I would move this side dish to the not-so-healthy category.

Why doesn’t this recipe have brown sugar or bacon?

I use the canned baked beans that already have bacon and brown sugar. But if you want to add bacon, chop slices of bacon and cook it with the sausage or add in a spoonful of bacon grease. If you want your beans sweeter, throw in a handful of brown sugar.

What are Boston baked beans?

I had to throw in this question, because Boston baked beans are my favorite candy. They’re nothing like this recipe. They’re peanuts coated in a red sugar shell. But there is such a thing as savory Boston baked beans. They’re made with salt pork or bacon and molasses, instead of sausage and maple syrup.

Table with BBQ side dishes and hot dogs.

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pot of baked beans.

Baked Beans

People always tell me these are the best baked beans they’ve ever had. They’re sweet, savory and meaty and so easy to make.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 18

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 cup bell pepper chopped
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 48 ozs brown sugar and bacon baked beans 2 cans
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions
 

  • Brown Sausage: Place the Italian sausage in a large pot. Brown over medium-high heat, chopping it into smaller pieces as it cooks, about 7 min. 
  • Sauté Veggies: Add in the pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté until the veggies are nice and tender. About 3 min. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients: Remove the pot from the heat. Pour in the cans of beans. Stir in the barbecue sauce, mustard and maple syrup.
  • Heat: Set up your smoker to 350F degrees. Heat the beans for 30 minutes. They can also be heated on a gas grill over indirect heat, in a 350F-degree oven, in a slow cooker or on the stove. Once the edges begin to bubble, they're ready.

Notes

Servings: This recipe makes 9 cups of beans. The average person will eat about a 1/2 cup serving, depending on how many other sides you serve. 
Substitutions: You can replace the Italian sausage with breakfast sausage or ground beef, but it won’t be quite as flavorful. 
Make Ahead: To make this recipe in advance, prepare everything up to the point of heating. Then, refrigerate for up to 3 days. Heat for 45 minutes, instead of 30. 

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 8gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 748mgPotassium: 360mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 280IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2mg
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