Turn an ordinary can of Bush’s baked beans into a phenomenal BBQ side dish! All you’ll need are a few pantry staples to make the transformation happen.
These beans have a combination of sweet, tangy, savory, and smoky, and they’re simply phenomenal.
They’ll taste like they came straight out of a southern restaurant, but in reality, it’s just an easy, pre-made dish.
The idea is to use canned baked beans for the base and amp up its flavors with your usual kitchen condiments.
You’ll be surprised at how a blend of ketchup, mustard, and pancake syrup can make magic happen.
Don’t believe me? You won’t have to! I’ll let this recipe prove my point.
Bush’s Baked Beans
Baked beans are a must-have at BBQs and potlucks. It’s a simple dish of soft, starchy beans in a thick sauce bursting with sweet and smoky flavors.
If you make them from scratch, baked beans typically take hours to cook. But with this recipe, this beloved classic can be enjoyed after just 45 minutes.
Just because it’s a simplified version doesn’t mean it’s not as flavorful, though! These beans have a wonderful balance of flavors – not too sweet, not too spicy.
The beans are topped with crispy bacon, to boot, and we all know how a few strips of this fatty goodness can amp up the irresistibility level of any dish.
Don’t expect any leftovers! These beans will be inhaled in just minutes.
The thing I absolutely love about this recipe is that it uses basic ingredients that you already have on hand.
Together, they’ll create the most scrumptious, special occasion-worthy baked beans!
- Bush’s Baked Beans – The dish isn’t called after this brand for no reason! I like Bush’s Baked Beans best because its sauce has a thick consistency. You can use other brands, too, but just choose one with a thick sauce.
- Small Onion – This simple aromatic goes a long way. You can saute the onions beforehand, but it’s totally fine if you don’t, as they’ll cook through as the beans bake.
- Brown Sugar – For sweetness. I prefer brown sugar over granulated, here, because it contains molasses that gives the beans a deep flavor.
- Pancake Syrup – It’s the magic ingredient that enhances the beans’ flavor significantly. Of course, if you have actual maple syrup or molasses on hand, use those.
- Ketchup – For that sweet, smokey, tomatoey flavor.
- Yellow Mustard – The tanginess provides a nice flavor contrast to the sweet ingredients.
- Bacon – A strip of crispy, smoky bacon goes on top of the bacon for the perfect finish.
Tips for the Best Baked Beans
- Don’t drain the baked beans! Most of the liquid will evaporate during cooking, and the rest will turn into a thick sauce with a wonderfully concentrated flavor.
- You can choose to brown the bacon beforehand, but don’t cook it completely. You’ll want the bacon fat to incorporate with the beans, as they’ll bake to give them more flavor.
- Stick to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans need to cook at a lower temperature so they won’t become mushy.
- If your oven is already too busy cooking up other dishes, use the Crockpot! Simply throw all the ingredients into the pot (you may want to consider slicing the bacon into bits) and cook for 2 hours on high or on low for 4 to 5.
- Baked beans taste better the next day! Feel free to make them one day in advance and just warm them up on the stovetop before serving.
- Have leftovers? Store them in an air-tight container and refrigerate them for up to a week.
- Baked beans freeze wonderfully! Let them cool completely and store them in a freezer-safe container. Freeze them for up to 3 months.
- To reheat the frozen beans, thaw them overnight in the fridge and bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
- If you choose to brown the bacon beforehand, use the grease to saute the onions. This will ensure you won’t end up with raw onions, plus, it makes them extra aromatic and flavor.
- Add a few drops of sriracha or pieces of chopped jalapenos to give the dish a bit of heat. Tabasco works, too.
- Add a splash of liquid smoke for an extra smoky, BBQ flavor. Hickory BBQ sauce works wonderfully, as well.
- Pancake syrup is the secret ingredient that gives this dish a deeper, bolder flavor. But if you have the real things on hand – maple syrup or molasses – definitely use them.
- Aside from pancake syrup, bourbon also does a fine job at enhancing this dish’s flavor, so go ahead and add a couple of splashes in there.
- Make the dish meatier by adding ground beef or sausage crumbles. Brown the meat in oil, first, for about 5 minutes, or until it’s no longer pink.
- Vegetables are a great addition to baked beans! Add as many as you can find in the fridge. Bell peppers, carrots, onions – you name it. Just like the meat, though, you’ll want to saute the veggies before adding them to the bean mixture.
- For more flavor, season the beans with your choice of spices and seasonings. I hear ginger and turmeric work great.
- Make it vegetarian: skip the bacon (insert sad face here), and used drained and rinsed navy or pinto beans. Increase the sauce ingredients (brown sugar, pancake syrup, ketchup, mustard) by half to compensate for the lack of sauce from the canned beans.
More Great BBQ Side Dishes
Hellman’s Potato Salad
Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese
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