Baked beans are a summer BBQ tradition! This recipe-makeover captures the good ole fashioned sweet-n-smoky flavor of traditional Southern-style baked beans while utilizing wholesome real food ingredients.
Another plus is that it can prepared up to three days ahead of time and kept in the frig. When ready to serve, simply reheat in a large saucepan, as directed below. (In fact, we think it tastes BEST when the flavors are able to meld in the frig overnight before serving.)
- UPDATED, as *noted below:
- 3 cups **soaked & cooked navy beans (or two 15oz. cans, drained and rinsed)
- 4-5 slices nitrate-free pastured bacon, rough-chopped
- 2 cups diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups organic crushed tomatoes (I like Eden Organic brand in glass)
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 2 tbsp organic unsulfured molasses (*formerly, I used 3 tbsp of molasses)
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (*formerly, I used 2 tsp of rapadura, a.k.a. sucanat)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- For optimal health benefits, I recommend soaking and cooking dry beans rather than using canned. (See **note below for simple instructions.)
- Chop raw bacon into bite-sized pieces. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon pieces release most of their fat.
- Then, add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft and translucent (about 5-6 minutes).
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, water, molasses, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and chili powder, until well combined. (As *noted in ingredients list above, I discovered, quite by accident, a much better flavor combo by using a bit less molasses and replacing the rapadura/sucanat with maple syrup instead. How I stumbled upon this is, I was out of rapadura and so I decided to use maple syrup. Since maple syrup has a similar flavor, I reduced the molasses by a tablespoon. The result was even yummier, so I updated the recipe to reflect this tasty discovery!)
- Next add beans, salt and pepper; stir well to combine.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until about half of the liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).
- P.S. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the frig in a covered dish for up to three days. When ready to serve, simply reheat in large saucepan on stovetop over medium heat until hot. In fact, we think it tastes BEST when the flavors are able to meld in the frig overnight before serving. (The perfect side for summer BBQs!)
**Soaking and cooking dry beans is an easy way to make them easier on your digestive system. (Plus it saves money too!) I like to soak and cook large batches in my crockpot because it’s so easy and convenient. Then, I place the soaked & cooked beans into individual containers and store in my freezer for quick, easy use in recipes.
Step One: Before soaking and cooking, hand sort the dry beans to remove any foreign matter.
Step Two: Wash and thoroughly rinse the beans. Then, place them in your crockpot and add enough hot-to-the-touch (not boiling) water to completely cover the beans by at least three inches. (For most, soaking in hot water alone is enough to reduce the gas potential. However, some people suggest adding a little baking soda to the soak to help further reduce the gas issue. Yet, it's important to note this does have a down-side, as some report that the addition of baking soda results in a reduction of B vitamins.) Cover the crockpot and soak beans for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain beans in colander and be sure to thoroughly rinse.
Step Three: Place drained and rinsed beans back into your crockpot and add enough filtered water to completely cover the beans with about three inches of water. Do not add salt during the cooking process, as this will inhibit the beans from softening properly. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. The beans are done when they are bite-tender.
Step Four: Drain the cooked beans and allow them to cool to room temp. Once cool, place *1 1/2 cups of cooked beans into individual storage containers (or freezer bags). Store in refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to six months.
*The reason for this measurement is because the average can of beans yields about 1 1/2 cups of drained, rinsed beans. So divvying them up into this portion size makes it a bit easier to substitute homemade soaked & cooked beans in your favorite recipes that call for canned beans.
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
My kids LOVE baked beans. I am going to try this w/o the molasses, but I am very excited to try this. I have a pressure cooker recipe for “baked” beans, but always willing to try another. Thanks Kelly!
Adrienne, what’s the link to your pressure cooker ‘baked’ beans recipe? I’d be happy to share it, since this is the “baked beans” time of year! Also, like I mentioned to Caralyn above, I forgot I had scheduled this recipe to go live today and so I didn’t retake the photos to accompany the recipe. Will get one in there soon!But these are tasty and easy to make too! Thank you! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
Hi. I don’t have it on my site yet. It’s just something I used to make a lot – but it’s hard to make them in the pressure cooker b/c the tomato leads to burning easily. That’s why I was so excited about yours!
I was wondering what your secret might be with making a tomato-based sauce in a pressure cooker. I’ve tried making marinara before in both a crockpot and pressure cooker and was never happy with the results. 🙂
I ran out of rapadura and made these with maple syrup instead, only to discover they are 10 times yummier!! So I updated the recipe! Just wanted you to know, since you were planning on making some substitutions yourself. Hope you have a blessed July 4th!! 🙂
Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy says
those sound so good!! i love baked beans, especially during the summer! yum!
LOL! I forgot I had scheduled this recipe to go live today and so I didn’t retake the photos to accompany the recipe. Will get one in there soon!But these are tasty and easy to make too! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
I ran out of rapadura and made these with maple syrup instead, only to discover they are 10 times yummier!! So I updated the recipe! Just wanted you to know, incase you decide to give this recipe a try. Hope you have a blessed July 4th!! 🙂
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
Hi Kelly One more question – I actually have these on the stove now….but I can’t have sugars so I’m adjusting. Not sure I’ll like the results w/o the molasses…but wouldn’t the top have to be off the beans to reduce the liquid? Thanks!
Hi, Adrienne! The beans will absorb some of the liquid and some will actually reduce as well with it covered. If you uncover, the sauce will get to thick and syrupy for my liking. However, if you’re not using molasses, it may do just fine cooking uncovered? I’m not sure how this will turn out without the molasses? I haven’t tried it that way. But if I were going to make it w/o molasses, I would probably opt to use a dark grade B maple syrup to get a similar rich, molasses-type taste and perhaps increase the rapadura … although again, it may take quite a bit of tweaking to get it to be the right balance of sweet and tangy without the molasses. 🙂 Blessings, Kelly
Michelle @ The Willing Cook says
Mmmm…fantastic! We love baked beans, but for some reason, I never seem to get them just right. I can’t wait to try your version…looks great 🙂
To be honest, Michelle. I am not a fan of BBs – LOL! But my hubby and kids are and I just couldn’t bring myself to feed them the sugar-laden, filler-laden canned varieties. So I created this one based on a recipe from So Easy. They love it and so that makes me happy! 🙂
Hi, Michelle. I ran out of rapadura and made these with maple syrup instead, only to discover they are 10 times yummier!! So I updated the recipe! Just wanted you to know, incase you decide to give this recipe a try. Hope you have a blessed July 4th!! 🙂
Any chance I could make these without tomatoes? I’m off of nightshades these days. What should I substitute instead?
Hi, Adina. I did a quick google search and found that there are many in your camp – no tomatoes and have their own versions of baked beans without tomatoes. So if you google “baked beans with no tomatoes” you will be shocked to find many options. Just be sure to steer clear of refined ingredients and sugar, if your following a a real food lifestyle. Or I invite you to skip the baked bean experiment and give my delicious Apple-Carrot Coleslaw a try! Even those who say they hate coleslaw, have found this one to be yummy! Happy July 4th! 🙂 Kelly
These are on my stove, as we speak. I have to say though, I am quite disappointed. I chose this recipe because of the sweet & smoky flavor mentioned in the intro & the picture looks similar to the baked beans we usually eat. However, after following the recipe exactly, mine are much more red in color, and the flavor is tangy instead. Not sure where the inconsistency is, but I don’t care for these after taste-testing. Maybe I’ll have better luck with some of your other recipes.
Hi, Alicia. Bummer you all didn’t enjoy these. Perhaps it’s the bacon, applewood smoked is our favorite and really gives these a smoky taste? But I know baked beans (as well as BBQ sauce) are one of those foods where taste preferences certainly vary dramatically. Some like sweet, some like more molasses undertones, some want more vinegary taste. I do hope you enjoy the other recipes here. Blessings to you, Kelly 🙂
If you are using pre-soaked and cooked beans that are frozen, would you thaw in the fridge, at room temp, or use right from the freezer?
Hi, Nicole. It would be easiest to thaw in fridge so it doesn’t increase the amount of time to cook. Using frozen beans would take longer to cook, but you could use them if you forget to thaw first. 🙂