An essential summer side dish this Smoked Baked Beans recipe is a must have for a great cookout! A sweet and savory dish that is easy to make but makes a big impression at a potluck.
Where do baked beans come from?
Baked beans originate from a Native American Indian culture and were made from beans that come from the Americas. Typically they were cooked with maple sugar, and bear fat in earthenware pots. Today they are served widely as a side dish for BBQ and cookouts served either hot or cold.
They were first mass produced in 1895 by the H.J. Heinz Company based in Pennsylvania. It's understood the canned pork and beans version actually only contained bits of salt pork. In fact, during WWII the pork was removed for war rationing. Around 1901 the company started exporting the product to the UK where it became a standard player in a traditional English breakfast.
I used canned beans for this recipe. If you choose to use dried beans then make sure you soak them appropriately for the type of bean you are using. The Bean Institute has a bean cooking guide explaining the different ways you can prep your dried beans for use in this recipe.
When picking out your beans be sure to pick a variety as this makes the dish turn out so good. Pick your favorite bacon for this recipe, but you can also use the cheapest pack out there which is also delicious.
I make this in a large cast iron Dutch oven with a lid. Any cooking vessel large enough that is oven safe should work since temperatures are low and slow for cooking. For example, an aluminum pan covered with foil would work for this recipe as well.
Preheat your pan. This can be done on the stove top, grill, or on your smoker if you have a spot to do it. Add some oil to the pot, and then add the diced onions. Cook until soft and translucent.
Next add the chopped bacon to the pan. Cook until the fat renders, and the bacon is slightly crispy. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add all the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Add just enough water to cover the beans. Remove from heat, and cover with lid or foil.
One of the great things about this recipe is that it can be cooked along side whatever you already have going on your smoker. Rule of thumb is that we like the temperature of the smoker to be around 225- to 250-degrees.
Smoke covered for about 2-3 hours or until the bean mixture has thickened and cooked through. Check half way through and stir the beans periodically until finished.
Additional tips for a great dish
Turn this side into a main dish by adding pulled pork, hot dogs, sausage, or ham to the mix before or after cooking the beans. Mix up the beans you use. I like to use Navy, Dark and Light Kidney, Pinto, Cannellini, and Black beans.
Kick up the heat with some chopped jalapeno, cayenne pepper, or some Habenero peppers.
Smoked Baked Beans Recipes
- 1 pound bacon cut into two-inch pieces
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 16 (ounce) can navy beans with liquid
- 1 16 (ounce) can pinto beans with liquid
- 1 16 (ounce) can black beans with liquid
- 1 16 (ounce) can light red kidney beans drained
- 1 16 (ounce) can dark red kidney beans drained
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 4 tablespoons hot sauce Crystal's or Cholula
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Enough water to cover just cover the beans
- Preheat pot on stove, grill, or smoker to medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened. Add bacon then cook until fat renders and it is slightly crispy. Add minced garlic and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add all remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the beans. Remove from heat and cover with a lid or foil.
- Smoke at 225- to 250- degrees for 2-3 hours or until mixture is cooked through and thickened.
- Serve immediately or store for up to one week in an airtight container.