Topped with a blanket of caramelized bacon, these Thick and Rich Smoky Sweet Baked Beans are the hit of any party or cookout!
Thick and Rich Smoky Sweet Baked Beans was originally posted on August 24, 2021 and has been updated with more information and tips, substitutions and variations, and a video.
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I love baked beans, but I don’t love when the juices from the beans run into other stuff on my plate. I prefer my beans to be thick enough to scoop without them falling off the spoon. Although I do like canned baked beans, such as Bush’s, they’re a little too runny for my taste. These baked beans are perfectly thick, rich, and so smoky with real bacon throughout!
Since I created this recipe, it has now become a family favorite and is often requested for cookouts. We’ve basically renamed it “THE Baked Beans” because everyone knows what I’m talking about when I say “I’m bringing THE baked beans.”
the ingredients for smoky baked beans
- Pork and beans–you’ll need 5 cans of pork and beans. Just make sure they are gluten free. The ones I use are Van Camps brand. Campbell’s Pork and Beans are NOT gluten free. You could also substitute these with 5 cans of white beans, navy beans, or any other canned beans.
- Bacon — I like to use thick cut bacon because it holds up well to the slow baking.
- Barbecue Sauce–you can use any store bought bottled sauce here (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s) or even a homemade one, such as my family’s favorite Dee’s BBQ Sauce.
- Smoked paprika
- Chipotle chili powder–if you can’t find chipotle chili powder, you can substitute with regular chili powder or even cayenne for a little kick.
how to make smoky sweet baked beans
Making baked beans is so easy, but it does require a little bit of time in the oven. So make sure you have your oven free for 3 hours:
- In a large bowl, mix half the bacon with the rest of the ingredients until well combined.
- Dump the mixture into a 9 by 13-inch (or similar) casserole dish that’s at least 2 inches deep. You can even bake the beans in a cast iron skillet. A disposable pan is also great for cookouts and potlucks.
- Place the rest of the bacon on top of the beans in rows, close together. If you don’t overlap the bacon and put it on the top neatly, it will get nice and caramelized and crunchy.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 3 hours, or until beans are bubbly and bacon on top is caramelized.
- Onions and/or bell peppers. If you know me, you know I loathe onions and peppers so you will rarely see me add them in any of my recipes. However, I know they are the duo that everyone seems to love, so feel free to add diced onions and/or peppers to the bowl when mixing everything together.
- Make it vegan/vegetarian. I’ve made a variation of these beans for my daughter, who is vegan, by removing the bacon and using canned navy beans (or any other type of canned beans–kidney beans or pinto beans for example).
- Ground beef. My mom makes something called Calico Beans and she adds ground beef to them and it makes them a little heartier than your usual baked beans recipes. Feel free to add cooked and crumbled ground beef to the mix before it goes into the oven for a heartier side dish.
- Liquid smoke. I think these beans have plenty of smoky flavor from all that bacon, but if you’re still wanting more, add a splash or two of liquid smoke.
Baked Beans FAQs
Yes! I’ve made them vegan by using canned navy beans instead of pork and beans and no bacon.
For the slow cooker, put all the ingredients into a slow cooker and set to low for 6-8 hours. You won’t get the same caramelization on the bacon, but they’ll still be delicious!
Place them in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. They can also be reheated in the microwave for one minute, or more depending on serving size and your microwave wattage.
what to serve with baked beans
- Burgers and/or hot dogs
- Barbequed baby back ribs
- Smoked pork butt or Instant Pot Kahlua Pork on Hawaiian rolls with coleslaw
- Beef brisket and homemade mac and cheese
- Barbequed chicken
More Barbeque/Cookout/Picnic Sides and Salads
- No Fuss Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Lemon Basil Potato Salad
- Easy and Delicious Chicken Salad
- Gluten Free Luxembourg Salad
- Chopped Chicken Salad
You’ll love these Thick and Rich Smoky Sweet Baked Beans so much, you’ll make them for every party or cookout you have!
Thick and Rich Smoky Sweet Baked Beans
- 5 15-oz cans pork and beans such as Van Camp's
- ¾ cup (180 g) ketchup
- ½ cup (140 g) molasses
- 3 tbsp yellow mustard
- ⅓ cup (67 g) light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp chipotle chili powder regular chili powder or even cayenne pepper may be substituted
- 2 tbsp barbecue sauce homemade or store bought
- ½ lb thick cut bacon, sliced into 2 inch slices
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Place all ingredients except half of the bacon in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
- Pour bean mixture into greased 9 by 13-inch (or similar) casserole dish (or a disposable pan, which is great for cookouts and potlucks). Top with the rest of the bacon in rows in a single layer.
- Place casserole dish on larger baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 3 hours, or until bacon is caramelized and beans are bubbly and thick. Serve immediately.
- Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated in a 325° oven for 10-15 minutes. Beans can be assembled, covered and refrigerated one day before baking and serving. Remove cover before baking.