Best Ever Baked Beans are meaty, perfectly sweet and 100% delicious! Try these and I can (almost) guarantee they'll be the last bean recipe you will ever make!Jump to Recipe
Beans are the perfect side dish for summer cookouts and family gatherings. I especially love them as a side for a grilled hot dog, pulled pork sandwich or Tuna Noodle Casserole! (Is it normal to have baked beans with Tuna Noodle Casserole? That's a requirement in our house!)
Plain 'ol canned baked beans are fine. But there is no can of beans that will even begin to compare to my Aunt Teresa’s....the recipe I'm sharing with you today! Her beans, you guys, ohhhhhh my word!! They’re meaty, they’re slightly sweet, slightly smoky (thanks to the bacon!) and they’re just downright delicious!
Though I enjoy beans any time of the year, they're such a classic side dish when it comes to summer bbq dinners! The addition of ground beef makes them extra hearty and gives them the perfect texture.
Ingredients for Meaty Baked Beans
- Canned baked beans - Your favorite brand of "pork n beans" or "original" baked beans
- Lean ground beef
- Brown sugar - Light or dark brown sugar
- Ketchup - You could do half ketchup and half bbq sauce if you want a little extra tang!
- Onion - I prefer to use white or yellow onion
- Vinegar - White vinegar or apple cider vinegar works great (could also sub Worcestershire sauce!)
- Yellow Mustard - You can use Dijon mustard instead if you'd like
How to make the Best Ever Baked Beans
Though there's a little more work to put these together (thanks to the ground beef and bacon), I promise that it's worth it!!
First, you'll cook the ground beef and drain the fat. Place the bacon slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400F until done. Let the bacon cool then chop it!
Once you've got the ground beef and bacon cooked, it's super easy. You will open the cans of beans and pour the excess bean sauce out as you'll make your own homemade sauce to mix them into.
Next, stir together the beans, the cooked beef, crispy bacon pieces and the remaining ingredients. Here are a couple different ways to cook them:
- On the Stovetop: Mix the beans in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
- In the Oven: Pour the beans into a casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil (or in a Dutch oven with a lid). Bake at 350F for 1 hour.
- In the Crock Pot: Mix the ingredients and cook on high for 1 hour or on low for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Change it up!
- Add a variety of beans! Swap one of the cans of baked beans for a can of (drained) kidney beans or navy beans. If you've ever had "cowboy beans" its got more variety of beans in there. Regular 'ol butter beans are my fave.
- Add peppers! Add some diced green pepper or red bell pepper for a little more color and flavor.
- Turn up the heat! Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and some crushed red pepper for a little kick!
Frequently Asked Questions
Spoon them into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing baked beans as they'll be super mushy after freezing.
Baked beans go with almost any main dish. They're especially good with sandwiches and grilled meats - hot dogs, burgers, brats, pork chops, chicken, etc!
Texture and flavor! One thing I love about this hearty side dish is the texture of the soft beans, the meaty ground beef and the crisp bacon pieces. And of course, the flavor is important!
The bacon brings a lovely smokiness to the beans and the brown sugar gives it a richer flavor. Simple canned beans are alright, but this baked beans with ground beef recipe will blow any can of beans out of the water!!
I think the better way to put this question is "what's the best way to doctor up a can of baked beans?" I like to start by cooking a pound of ground beef and 8 slices of bacon. Once the meat is ready, I combine the beans, onion, sugars, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, beef and bacon in the vessel they'll be cooked in.
You can cook them in either a baking dish, a slow cooker or a large saucepan. Cook until the beans are nice and hot, the sugars have dissolved and the onions are nice and soft. Yum!
Yes!! The many ways to cook these beans is one of the things I love about this recipe. The slow cooker is one of those ways. Although every slow cooker is different, it will take most a couple hours. I'd recommend cooking them on high for an hour (stirring occasionally) and then letting them cook on low an additional 2-3 hours.