We’re kicking off the holiday weekend with a nostalgic recipe that just screams summer BBQ. Is there anything more Fourth of July than fresh, juicy watermelon, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and a side of saucy baked beans?
I was craving this comforting side dish last summer and let’s just say these homemade slow cooker baked beans did not disappoint. The boys and I gobbled them up for dinner and couldn’t help but go back for seconds. These baked beans are deliciously saucy, sweet, but not overly so, and have a kick of heat from my fav spicy BBQ sauce.
Yes, there’s savory bacon involved but yes, you can easily make them vegetarian! Skip the canned stuff and easily whip up these slow cooker baked beans all summer and for game day this fall. Enjoy!
How are baked beans traditionally made?
Traditional, old fashioned baked beans recipes typically involve soaking dried beans overnight until they’re tender, then bringing them to a simmer in a large pot with a sweet and savory sauce, and finally, baking them right in the oven. Everyone’s “sauce” is a bit different and many include apple cider vinegar or even apple juice as well.
We’re skipping the bake portion of the recipe and making the entire recipe right in the slow cooker for ease!
Everything you’ll need to make slow cooker baked beans
Trust me when I say these homemade baked beans are the BEST you’ll ever taste. Deliciously saucy, sweet and a little spicy if you’d like. Here’s what you’ll need to make them from scratch:
Customize your baked beans
These crockpot baked beans are super easy to customize to your taste preference and what you have on hand:
- Add more beans. If you like more beans than sauce, feel free to add another can of beans! As I mentioned, you can use any beans you’d like.
- Choose your sweetener. I find that dark brown sugar gives the baked beans the best rich flavor, but light brown sugar and coconut sugar will also work. You can also use a sweeter BBQ sauce if you want extra sweetness.
- Make them vegetarian. Simply skip the bacon to keep these slow cooker baked beans vegetarian.
Make the best homemade baked beans right in your slow cooker
This is truly the best, no-fuss way to make perfect baked beans. Plus, you can keep your house cooler by keeping the stove off in the summer!
- Cook your bacon. Start by dicing up your bacon and cooking it until it’s nice and crispy.
- Cook the onion & garlic. Next, drain most of the grease from the same pan and cook down that onion and garlic until they’re slightly golden. Set those aside with the bacon.
- Add it all to your slow cooker. Finally, add all of the beans, sauces, sugar, bacon, onion & garlic mixture to your slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7. Done!
Amazing ways to serve baked beans
These easy baked beans make the perfect summer side dish as-is, but it doesn’t stop there.
- Scoop them over delicious nachos or add them to quesadillas and burritos.
- Use them as a dip with some melted cheese on top.
- Serve them with chicken sausage, grilled chicken or your fav burger recipe at your next BBQ!
- Baked beans + homemade cornbread? Match made in heaven.
- In the fridge: store any leftover baked beans in airtight bags or containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Simply reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop and give them a stir.
- In the freezer: yes, you can freeze these slow cooker baked beans! Let them cool completely, then transfer them to freezer-safe bags or containers. Freeze the beans for up to 3 months. To reheat, let the beans thaw in the refrigerator before heating them on the stovetop.
More summer side dishes you’ll love
Get all of our summer recipes here!
I hope you love these homemade slow cooker baked beans! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Homemade Slow Cooker Baked Beans
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Delicious homemade slow cooker baked beans even better than the ones you grew up on! This easy baked beans recipe uses three types of canned beans, is perfectly sweet with a kick of heat if you’d like, and is easily made vegetarian. Add them to nachos or quesadillas, serve them as a dip and more!
uncooked bacon, diced
yellow onion, diced
(15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
(15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
(15 ounce) can northern white beans, rinsed and drained
spicy bbq sauce (or your favorite bbq sauce — use a sweet one if you like sweeter baked beans)
packed dark brown sugar (or sub coconut sugar)
yellow mustard (or sub dijon)
Cook your bacon: add diced bacon to a large skillet or pan and place over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy and golden brown. If the pan starts to smoke at any point, simply lower the heat. I always cook my bacon on medium low heat. Once bacon is done, blot with a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Allow bacon to cool.
Drain the bacon grease, leaving a little on the bottom of the pan and add in the diced onion, cooking for 5-8 minutes or until they are slightly golden. During the last minute of cooking, add in your garlic and cook for 1 min. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the drained and rinsed pinto, kidney and northern beans to the slow cooker, then add in the bacon and onion/garlic. Next add in the ketchup, molasses, bbq sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire and yellow mustard. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
To make them vegetarian: feel free to skip the bacon.
Feel free to swap out any kind of beans you’d like, or even add an additional can of beans to this recipe (but I like my beans a little saucier!) Black beans would also work very well in this recipe.
You don’t have to use dark brown sugar, but I find that it adds more flavor than any other kind of sugar (including light brown sugar). Please know that dark or light brown sugar or coconut sugar will work well.
For sweeter baked beans, use a sweeter BBQ sauce. I love using spicy bbq sauce (Stubb’s is my fav) because I think it adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the recipe.
Servings: 10 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 10)
Saturated fat: 0.9g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on July 1st, 2021, and republished on June 28th, 2022.