By Christie Vanover | Published June 30, 2022 | Last Updated June 30, 2022
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.
Ingredients for Baked Beans
Substitutions: You can substitute the Italian sausage with ground beef, ground turkey or breakfast sausage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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- 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
- 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.