This is the most perfect southern baked beans recipe ever, bursting with flavor with the perfect balance of spices and sweetness. Bring them to your next family cookout and everyone will beg you for the recipe.
Baked Beans: A Quintessential Cookout Side Dish
Baked beans complete the menu for a summer barbecue. There's a million and three ways to prepare them: totally from scratch, semi-homemade, spicy, sweet, thick, thin, stovetop, oven, etc.
Everyone needs to have a perfect baked beans recipe socked away when you're tasked with bringing this dish to the next summer cookout. I've tried many versions of baked beans over the years, but this recipe has taken the top spot as the best easy baked beans recipe that I've made so far.
Why Is This Recipe Special?
Bacon. That's all. Goodbye.
Well, that's most of it. This recipe starts by cooking up some bacon - use your stovetop or oven - until perfectly crisp. Then the magic happens. Take some of that bacon grease from the pan and use it to sauté some chopped Vidalia (or any sweet) onion. Doing this adds such an incredible base of flavor to your beans.
(and of course, the actual bacon gets added to the dish later)
I took this dish to a neighborhood party and I left with nothing but a pan that had been all but licked clean, so it's safe to say that it was well-received.
Another secret ingredient I used is a few drops of liquid smoke. Total game changer.
What Ingredients Do I Need?
Let's talk a moment about the individual ingredients that create this special pan of perfect baked beans.
- Bacon - I've already mentioned it, but this is where the magic starts. You can use any kind of bacon you want, technically, but choose one you know has bold flavor and that cooks up nice and crisp.
- Vidalia onion - If you can't find Vidalias, go with any kind of sweet onion and it'll work just fine.
- Pork & Beans - I'd consider this recipe "semi-homemade" to keep it fast and easy, so I reach for this canned classic. Pour the liquid off the top of the can, but don't fully drain or rinse the contents.
- Garlic - Duh.
- Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, and Brown Sugar - these are traditional ingredients for baked beans as they add both flavor and sweetness to the dish. This is where you can choose your specific brands and varieties to suit your tastes. The amounts I've listed in the recipe card are guidelines, but I recommend adding a little less than the recipe says, stir and taste, then adjust. If you want beans that are more bold and less sweet, use less ketchup, choose a spicy/smoky vs a sweet BBQ sauce, and use less brown sugar.
- Yellow Mustard and Worcestershire Sauce - these add a zippy undertone to the flavors in the beans.
- Liquid Smoke - You don't need much of this stuff - just a few drops will do it - but the subtle smoky flavor it adds rounds out the flavor profile so perfectly.
- Black Pepper - Brings it all to a finish.
Do I Need Any Special Equipment?
No - this is a simple recipe and no special equipment is required.
The only kitchen tools you need are:
- A knife - for chopping up the onion, bacon, and for mincing the garlic.
- A 9x13 Pan - or a dish with a similar capacity (10-12 cups)
- A saute pan or baking sheet - for cookin' up that bacon and mixing ingredients.
Take these beans to your next cookout and then come back here and tell me how many people begged you for the recipe. You'll end up being the person everyone asks to "bring the beans" to every barbecue. Enjoy!Print
The Only Baked Beans Recipe You Need
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Yield: 16 servings 1x
This is the most perfect baked beans recipe ever, bursting with flavor with the perfect balance of spices and sweetness. Bring them to your next family cookout and everyone will beg you for the recipe.
- About 8 slices of raw bacon
- 4 15oz cans of Pork and Beans
- 1 large vidalia onion, chopped small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup BBQ sauce *
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 TBS yellow mustard
- 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
- 5 drops liquid smoke
- ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper, or more to taste
- Cook bacon using your preferred method (oven or stovetop) and set onto layered paper towels to drain. Reserve a couple tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Heat reserved bacon grease in a large deep sauté pan and add the onions. Cook on medium heat until onions are translucent and fragrant, and then add the minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
- Pour the liquid off the top of the pork and beans and discard. You want there to be a little liquid left, so do not fully drain or rinse. Add the beans to the sauté pan with the ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, mustard Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and pepper.
- Chop the drained bacon coarsely and add to the pan. Mix all ingredients together and transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Bake on center rack for about an hour until nice and bubbly and a slight skin begins to form on the top.
You can alter the sweetness of this recipe by choosing either a sweet or smoky/savory sauce.
Add a little less ketchup and brown sugar than is indicated in the recipe, stir and taste, and add more until your desired level of sweetness has been reached.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Sides
- Method: Stovetop and Oven
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Can’t wait to try this!! Thank you for sharing!!
Do you think regular yellow onion would work include this recipe?
Wow, this dish looks amazing in those pictures!!! I can't wait to make it for lunch. Thanks for sharing!