Home Copycat Recipes Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans (Copycat Recipe)

Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans (Copycat Recipe)

Don’t tell Nana, but we’re about to spill the beans on Grandma Brown’s baked beans recipe!

Once upon a time, you could snag a can of these legendary beans at the supermarket.

But those days are behind us. 

Top View of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans with Bacon in a Cast Iron Pan on a Wooden Cutting Board with Onions and Sugar Around the Pan
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The good news? You can easily replicate this beloved recipe right in your kitchen. 

They’re smoky, sweet, salty, and well worth the hype. Trust me. 

It’s a low-and-slow recipe that demands a little patience. But, like all good things, it’s worth the wait. 

So, grab your apron, and let’s dive into the not-so-secret recipe for Grandma Brown’s baked beans. 

Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans

Grandma Brown’s baked beans ceased production in 2021, and getting your hands on a can isn’t easy. 

A single can sells on eBay for over $150!

Luckily, this recipe captures the magic of Grandma Brown’s original Depression-Era recipe. 

These beans are the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a smoky kick. 

But consider yourself warned: they’re highly addictive. And they’re so thick and meaty, you could make an entire meal out of them.

But they also make an excellent sidekick to savory BBQ foods at your next summer potluck. 

Bowl of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans in a Bowl with Crusty Bread on a Plate to the Side

Ingredients 

Grandma Brown’s baked beans use simple, affordable ingredients like any good Depression-Era recipe. 

  • Navy beans – Navy beans cook up incredibly tender and have a slightly nutty flavor. They’re the perfect pairing with smoky meats and melt in your mouth. 
  • Baking soda – A dash of baking soda will help your beans cook faster. It will ensure that your beans will be perfectly fork-tender. 
  • Salt – The ham and bacon are pretty salty, so you only need a little dash of salt to draw out all those amazing flavors. 
  • Ham or cooked bacon – Using ham or cooked bacon delivers that classic punch of rich, salty, and smoky flavors. It takes these baked beans over the top. 
  • Dark brown sugar – Dark brown sugar is a must! It gives these beans the rich, sweet flavors that pair so well with smoked meats. 
  • Onion – Adding an onion is entirely optional. I always do because it adds a burst of acidity and a little extra crunch. But if you don’t have one, the beans are delicious without it.
  • Bay leaf – Throwing a bay leaf into the pot is also optional. But it adds a depth of earthy flavors and a little something extra you don’t get anywhere else. 
Close Up of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans with Bacon in a Skillet

How to Make Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans 

Whipping up these baked beans requires a little bit of patience, but it’s worth the effort. 

Check out these simple steps to recreate this classic. 

1. Prepare the dry beans. Boil the beans for 10 minutes in a large pot with water and baking soda. Then, cool and leave in the fridge to soak overnight. 

2. Mix the beans with the other ingredients. Rinse them first, mix everything together, then pour them into an oven-safe dish and add just enough water to cover the beans. 

3. Bake. Cover the dish and bake it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 6 hours. Be sure to stir the beans once every hour. 

4. Cool. Remove the beans from the oven and leave them to cool in the pot on a wire rack.

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Tips for the Best Baked Beans

Here are some quick and easy tips to ensure your beans are Grandma Brown-approved. 

  • Give ’em a good soak. When working with dry beans, it’s essential to allow them to soak overnight. If you don’t, they won’t cook evenly. It’s an exercise in patience, but it’s worth it in the end!
  • Taste as you go. After you combine your ingredients, taste them before they hit the oven. If they need a little more salt or a hint of spice, add it before popping it into the oven. 
  • Keep a close eye. As they bake, the beans will absorb a lot of liquid. If your beans look a little dried out, add more water. Check them at least once an hour.
Super Close Up of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans with Brown Bacon Pieces on a Fork

Serving Suggestions 

Grandma Brown’s baked beans are a great side dish for any occasion. 

Serve them over the summer, Thanksgiving, or a Tuesday when you need a comfort food pick-me-up. 

And if you need some inspiration, check out these fantastic pairings:

1. Lipton Onion Soup Burger

Burgers and beans go together like peanut butter and jelly. And this isn’t your typical burger. 

Adding Lipton Onion Soup takes a classic burger to new heights. Serve it on a hearty brioche bun, and don’t forget the beans. 

2. Mayonnaise Biscuits

Just picture it: a warm, buttery biscuit cut in half and topped with Grandma Brown’s baked beans. 

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

And these mayonnaise biscuits are so quick and easy. They soak up all that delicious baked bean sauce. 

3. Grilled Cheese

Melty, gooey grilled cheese and a side of smoky baked beans are a match made in heaven. 

This pairing is the ultimate combination of flavors and textures.

It’s the perfect meal for a cold, blustery winter’s night. 

4. Fall off the Bone Ribs

Is there anything more classic than ribs and baked beans? 

This recipe for ultra-tender bone ribs is the perfect accent to Grandma’s beans.

These ribs are rich, smoky, and melt in your mouth. 

Side View of a Bowl of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans with Onions and Bacon and a Container of Parsley in the Background

How to Store & Reheat

If you have leftover beans, they keep well in the fridge. So you can make a big batch and enjoy them all week!

To Store: Be sure your beans cool completely, and transfer them to a freezer bag or an air-tight container. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. 

To Reheat: When you’re ready to enjoy a serving, heat them in the microwave or the oven. 

  • Microwave: Add a little extra water or broth to the container when reheating them in the microwave. If you don’t, they’ll dry out. Microwave them in short intervals until warmed through.
  • Oven: – Place them in an oven-safe dish and gently reheat them at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. If they seem dried out, stir in extra water or stock to the pan. 

More BBQ Side Dishes To Try

Texas Twinkies
Macaroni Salad
Mexican Street Corn
Potatoe Skins
Red Potato Salad

Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans (Copycat Recipe)

Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Soaking Time

12

hours
Cooking Time

6

hours
Calories

212

kcal

Whip up the legendary Grandma Brown’s baked beans right at home! With just a few pantry staples, it’s so easy to recreate the copycat recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound navy beans

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 6 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 ounces ham or cooked bacon

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (optional)

  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

Instructions

  • In a large stock pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the navy beans and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the beans cool for about 4 hours. Then, transfer the pot to the fridge and leave to soak overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150°C).
  • Rinse the soaked beans and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, ham, salt, onion, and bay leaf. Stir until well combined.
  • Pour the bean mixture into a Dutch oven or 9×13-inch casserole dish. Add just enough water so the beans are covered, then add a lid or two layers of foil and bake for 5-6 hours. Stir every hour until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick. Add more water, as needed, if the beans seem dry or need more time.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, serve and enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

6 thoughts on “Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans (Copycat Recipe)”

  1. This sounds so good but the ad covers a large portion of the instructions. Do you have suggestions of how to remove it? I have tried several times

    Reply
    • Hi Dana, I’m not sure why that’s happening! But here’s a rundown of the recipe instructions:

      1. Prepare the dry beans. Add baking soda and water to a large stock pot and bring it to a boil.

      Next, add the beans and boil them for 10 minutes. Finally, allow them to cool, and place them in the fridge to soak overnight.

      2. Mix the beans with the other ingredients. After rinsing the beans, combine them with water, dark brown sugar, salt, ham, onion, and a bay leaf.

      Stir until thoroughly combined and pour them into an oven-safe dish.

      3. Bake. Cover the pot with a lid, and bake it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 6 hours. Be sure to stir the beans once every hour.

      4. Cool. Remove the beans from the oven and leave them to cool in the pot on a wire rack.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Hi Kim! I was wondering if you cover the beans when you put them in the oven? I was unable to find mention of this in either the narrative, or the recipe itself.
    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Terry. Thanks for catching that! Yes, they need to be covered. I use a Dutch oven with a lid, but you can use a normal casserole dish and cover it with 2 layers of foil. Hope you enjoy the beans!

      Reply
  3. After I rinse the beans, I mix the ingredients in with the beans. Do I add any water to the bean mixture before I put in the oven?(beans, brown sugar, bacon, salt, onion and bay leaf)

    Reply
    • Hi Kim!
      Thanks for catching that.
      Yes, you need to add just enough water so the beans are covered. And then you may need a bit extra while baking, depending on how the sauce thickens

      Reply

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