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posted March 07, 2023

Smoked Baked Beans with Brown Sugar and Bacon

Smoked baked beans are a must-have BBQ side dish. Nothing goes better with your perfectly cooked BBQ than a spoonful of slightly sweetened, slow-smoked baked beans loaded with bacon.

Smoked baked beans in a serving dish with text overlay - Smoked Baked Beans.

Smoked Baked Beans

Regular baked beans are delicious. Smoked baked beans are what side dish fantasies are made of. I’ve been working on a good baked beans recipe for a long time and I’ve tried them all. I am a lover of all beans in all varieties, but my ideal combination for the perfect smoked baked beans is the balance of sweet and heat with the right amount of smoke.

My recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman, because I think she nailed the base for the sauce. However, I knew I could amplify what was there with jalapenos, peppered bacon, and (obviously) real wood smoke! I wanted these beans to be an authentic BBQ side dish that could easily cook alongside whatever else you’ve got running in the smoker at 225 or 250 degrees F. Most hard or fruit woods work great with this dish, so just use whatever you’ve already got running in your smoker. My only caution would be mesquite. That stuff is strong and can overwhelm your beans.

Chopped onions and green bell peppers in a cast iron skillet.

Ingredients for Smoker Baked Beans

Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious baked beans.

  • 6 slices thick-cut peppered bacon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 jalapenos (or 1 green bell pepper for less heat)
  • 2 28-ounce cans of pork and beans
  • 3/4 cup Everything BBQ Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses

You can purchase Everything BBQ Sauce from the Hey Grill Hey Store, or you can make your own ketchup-based BBQ sauce using my recipe for Kansas City BBQ Sauce. You can also use your favorite BBQ sauce in this recipe. Choose your own sauce adventure!

Ingredients for baked beans being stirred in a cast iron skillet.

How to Smoke Baked Beans

Now that you have all your ingredients assembled, you’re ready to get these beans on the smoker! Here’s how to smoke baked beans (it’s a fairly easy process so don’t be intimidated!)

  1. Preheat. Fire up your favorite smoker and allow it to fully preheat to 250 degrees F. Any hardwood will do just fine for this recipe, but I really like these beans with pecan.
  2. Cook the bacon. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon for a few minutes. You want the fat to start rendering (melting), but you do not want the bacon to crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate with a paper towel on top of it.
  3. Add the onions and jalapenos. Add the onions and jalapenos to the bacon grease in the preheated skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Add remaining ingredients. Add the entire cans of pork and beans to the skillet as well as all remaining ingredients. Stir well.
  5. Smoke. Top the beans with the slices of bacon, and place the skillet on the smoker. Close the lid and smoke for 3 hours.
  6. Enjoy. Remove the beans from the smoker and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Pitmaster tip: The cast iron skillet is the shining star of this whole recipe. It allows you to cook the entire dish from start to finish in it, and you can also use it as a serving dish as well. Be sure to snag one if you don’t already have one in your kitchen. It’s well worth the cost!

 

How Long to Smoke Baked Beans

It takes approximately 3 hours to smoke baked beans with your smoker running steady at 250 degrees F. This time may vary slightly depending on how long it takes for your bacon to cook through, but 3 hours is a decent gauge for this recipe.

Baked beans on the smoker.

Tips for Smoking Baked Beans

Here are some tips for smoking these baked beans.

  • Canned beans are your friend. These smoked baked beans are easy enough to throw together in 15 minutes because of the use of canned pork and beans. I’ve made a pork belly baked beans recipe where I soak my beans and cook everything from scratch (and it is DELICIOUS!), but sometimes you need a little bit of a shortcut when you’ve already been smoking a brisket for 15 hours. The canned beans give me the shortcut I needed without losing out on flavor.
  • Smoke in a cast iron skillet. This allows me to do the whole process in one pan, which makes for a much easier clean-up. These are slightly acidic beans, so many people worry about it stripping the seasoning. I make sure it is well seasoned before I start cooking and swipe it with a thin layer of oil after cooking and it works great.
  • Use thick sliced bacon. I prefer thick-cut bacon because each person gets their own nice thick piece of bacon with their beans. The bacon doesn’t get super crisp, just rendered and incredibly tender. If you want the bacon to be even more tender and fall apart, go with a thinner sliced bacon and use a couple more slices of it. If you want the bacon to be crisp, broil the skillet of beans for 2-3 minutes after pulling it off of the smoker. Watch closely so the sugar in the beans doesn’t burn.

Smoked baked beans in a serving dish.

More Baked Beans Recipes

Hey Grill Hey has a handful of delicious baked beans recipes for all your BBQ cookouts. Whether you like yours with some hearty meat or cooked up Texas-style, these are all sure to become family favorites!

Smoked Baked Beans Recipe

This recipe was created for you, backyard griller! Here at Hey Grill Hey, we’re in the business of helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipes here on my website (browse the Homepage for inspiration) on Instagram, YouTube, or our Facebook Page.

This post was originally published in June 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Smoked baked beans in a serving dish.

Smoked Baked Beans

Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
Smoked baked beans are a BBQ side dish staple.  Nothing goes better with a perfectly grilled burger than a spoonful of slightly sweetened, slow smoked baked beans loaded with bacon and a slight jalapeno kick.
4.91 from 31 votes
Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 3 hours
Total Time : 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings : 12 people
Calories : 158kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 6 slices thick cut peppered bacon (halved)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 3 jalapenos (or 1 green bell pepper for less heat) (seeds and stems removed, diced)
  • 2 28-oz cans pork and beans
  • ¾ cup Everything BBQ Sauce (recipe link in notes section)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses

Instructions

  • Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F using any mild or fruit wood. I really like pecan with this recipe.
  • Cook the bacon. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon pieces for 2-3 minutes per side. You want to cook them long enough to render fat, but not long enough to crisp them throughout. 
  • Sautee the onions and jalapenos. Remove the bacon pieces to a plate with a paper towel on top so they can drain. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the onions and jalapenos. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they have softened and the onions are slightly translucent.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Pour the cans of beans (liquid and all) into the pan. Add in the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and molasses. Stir to combine. Place the slices of bacon on top of the beans.
  • Smoke the beans. Smoke, uncovered, for about 3 hours, or until nearly all of the fat has rendered from the bacon and the beans have thickened up nicely.
  • Enjoy. Remove the beans from the smoker and allow them to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Notes

Everything BBQ Sauce

Nutrition

Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 336mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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