Quick + easy brown sugar baked beans that you make on the stove top or in a slow cooker! Full of flavor and so adaptable, this is the ultimate summer side dish.
This recipe is one of my favorite side dishes to take to summer potlucks, barbecues, family reunions, and more. These brown sugar baked beans with bacon are so easy to make with simple ingredients.
Baked beans are a classic recipe that are easier to make than you think, plus, you can customize the flavors for your family. Make them vegetarian or vegan, omit the mustard with a mustard allergy, or add extra bacon crumbled on top. The options are endless!
Free From: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, celery, corn, sesame, mustard, lupin, sulfites, and more
This perfect BBQ side dish consists of beans, brown sugar, and a few extra spices in your kitchen. These beans are sweet, salty, and packed full of flavor.
This recipe was updated with additional text and new photos May 2022 but the recipe remains the same.
Beans are the most important ingredient here, obviously. Navy beans, northern beans, and pinto beans will all work. My personal favorite are cannellini beans for their sweet taste.
You will also need:
- Brown sugar
- Tomato paste
- Mustard powder
- Soy sauce
- Garlic and onion powder
- Ham / bacon
If allergic to mustard, omit the mustard powder. Add a half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to give this a bit of tang.
If avoiding wheat, make sure that the soy sauce you use is gluten free. Make sure it says “Tamari” and gluten free on the bottle!
If you are avoiding soy, you can use coconut amino acids, or omit entirely. Add an additional ½ teaspoon of salt.
If you are avoiding nightshades, you don’t have to use the tomato paste and can either swap out for a nightshade free ketchup or sauce or omit the ingredient entirely. If not using tomato paste or substitute, I would increase the meat and molasses by 50% each.
Vegetarian / Vegan baked beans
To make this a vegetarian and vegan friendly dish, simply omit the meat! If you want to give a bit of that umami flavor to your beans, consider adding a few chopped shiitake mushrooms about halfway through cooking. You could also add chopped red bell peppers to deepen the flavor.
Add some kick to your baked beans with the addition of peppers. Fresh red and green bell peppers can be chopped and diced and added. You can also add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder for a rich smoky spice.
Add about ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke to the recipe to get a rich smoky flavor.
Try making these beans with different meats. Ham, ham hocks, bacon, sausages, chorizo, or even sliced lunch meat all taste amazing in this dish.
Baked beans instructions
For the full instructions with recipe measurements, please see the recipe card below.
Making these beans is a piece of cake! (Piece of beans?)
Start by cooking your bacon. I like to use the microwave kind of bacon that cooks up in 60 seconds, but using fresh bacon is also great. No matter which method you use, make sure that the bacon is fully cooked and set it aside.
Next, drain and rinse the beans. Add them to a large pot. Place the remaining ingredients in the pot and give it a good stir. Add the water, using your best judgment to know how much to add. I typically add about 2 cups of water, but you want the beans to be only just covered with water.
Finally, add the bacon.
Pop this on the stove over medium heat and cook for 60-75 minutes. Make sure you give them a stir every 5 minutes or so to keep things from burning on the bottom of the pan.
To make in a slow cooker
While this recipe is intended for a stove top, you can for sure make these in a slow cooker! Add all the ingredients same as the recipe is written and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
If the beans are too thin after time, remove the lid and continue cooking on high until they are thickened to your liking.
However, if they are too thin at any point in cooking, feel free to turn down the heat and add a little bit more water, as needed.
How to store
These beans can be made ahead of time and make for great leftovers.
Fridge: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Transport these beans in a slow cooker or a crock pot to keep them warm if you are bringing them to a potluck or party.
More Recipes to Love
If you try these out, please leave a comment below! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. And if you want more delicious, dietary friendly recipes you can subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
- 5 cups Beans, drained and rinsed I use 3 cans of beans, about 45 oz
- 5 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ cup bacon see variations in notes
- 2 cups water
- Cook your bacon according to package directions. Set aside.
- Add beans, sugar, spices, tomato paste, soy sauce, molasses, and water to a large pot. Give a stir to combine. Add the bacon.
- Cook on medium heat for about 60 to 75 minutes or until beans have thickened.
- Can be served immediately or saved for later. Enjoy!