Everyone needs a “best” baked bean recipe in their repertoire. You know, the beans that disappear before anything else at the barbecue because everyone wants seconds. The “Who made the beans?” beans, the “I must have your recipe for the beans!” beans. These are my BEST baked beans and they’re easy. You already have most of the ingredients on-hand. In fact, you might be skeptical that I might not know good beans because the ingredients are so common, the recipe doesn’t call for an entire pound of bacon, and the ingredient list is not 30 items long. Trust me, these beans have been tested over many years and have been given the “best” label by throngs of testers.
My best baked beans uses three different types of beans; pinto beans, red beans and black beans. I add less bacon than most recipes because the beans are king. But don’t worry, this recipe will not be lacking in deep flavor. The process starts on the stove with a few slices of bacon (not thick-sliced baon. See note) and a chopped onion that saute’ together until the bacon is crisp and the onion starts to brown. Next, just the right amount of brown sugar, tomato sauce, horse-radish, Dijon, Worcestershire, hot sauce (this will not add much heat so don’t skip it) and salt and pepper all get stirred in.
And irresistible they are. I would double or even triple the recipe for a large crowd because they’re always popular. The longer you bake them, especially when doubled, the better the flavor. So, here are my best baked beans. I hope they become your best as well.
Finally, a word of caution. I would NOT add cheese to these beans. Many people like cheese in their baked beans. Don’t do it with this recipe, you’ll be disappointed. The cheese overpowers and dulls the individual spices and Worcestershire smokiness. Not to mention that this is a great dish for people who prefer no dairy or can’t tolerate it.
Note: The reason I would advise against using thick-sliced bacon is the bacon is going to soften back up a bit during baking, no matter how crispy you cooked it on the stove. You don’t want thick slabs of soggy bacon in your finished beans. I have found that Bar S bacon is a good option.
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces (Not thick bacon, trust me)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon horseradish
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank's Wing Style is great, not too hot)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28-oz. can pinto beans, drained
- 1 15-oz. can red beans, drained
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Cook's note: Dry beans are even tastier than canned and prettier, but require advanced prep. If you prefer using dried beans, soak your beans the night before. I would use 50% pinto beans, 25% each of red and black beans. Soak enough beans to end up with 5-6 cups of beans.
- Heat oven to 350F degrees and place oven rack one place above the middle position.
- Heat a large skillet to medium and add chopped bacon. Cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add onion and stir together with bacon. Continue to cook on medium heat until bacon is well crisped, but not burnt, stirring occasionally. If necessary, lower heat to medium-low.
- Once bacon is cooked and onions are starting to caramelize, add brown sugar, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, horseradish, mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until brown sugar is well dissolved into other ingredients, about 3 minutes.
- In a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, add drained beans (rinse the black beans since they are harder to drain). Stir bacon/onion mixture into the beans.
- Bake 25 minutes. Lower heat to 325F degrees and cook at least another 20 minutes, or up to 35 minutes until you're ready to serve.