posted June 08, 2018
Smoked Baked Beans with Brown Sugar and Bacon
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.
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 a true BBQ side dish that could easily cook alongside whatever else you’ve got running in the smoker at 225 or 250 degrees F. Honestly, 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.
Tips for Smoked Baked Beans
These smoked baked beans are easy enough to throw together in 15 minutes because of the use of canned pork n 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.
I prefer to smoke my baked beans in a cast iron skillet. This allows me to do the whole process in one pan, which makes for much easier clean-up. These are slightly acidic beans, so many people worry about it stripping the seasoning. I just make sure it is well seasoned before I start cooking and swipe with a thin layer of oil after cooking and it works great.
This recipe calls for thick sliced bacon. I prefer it because each person gets their own nice thick piece of bacon. The bacon doesn’t really 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.
Baked Beans Recipe
Smoked Baked Beans
- 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
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (links to my favorite homemade sauces are in the recipe notes)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F using any mild or fruit wood. I really like pecan with this recipe.
- Preheat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Cook the bacon pieces for 2-3 minutes per side. Long enough to render fat, but not long enough to crisp thoroughly.
- 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.
- 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 and head out to the smoker.
- 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. Remove from the smoker and serve while warm.
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