These easy Baked Beans are a delicious addition to BBQs, potlucks, picnics, and game day celebrations! Made from scratch, this thick and hearty baked beans recipe can be served hot or cold – your choice! We love to serve these beans as a side dish with homemade dinner rolls, my mom’s broccoli salad and the best grilled chicken of your life made with this chicken marinade – definitely a meal to remember!
Baked beans are one of my go-to recipes. They work equally well as a side dish during hot summer months as they do during chilly winter months. Because these beans can be served warm or cold, it makes them incredibly versatile and I love that I can easily change up the recipe to customize it for different occasions. I share more on that below.
This recipe is a lot like my crockpot refried beans recipe in that it’s a little bit of a misnomer in that those beans are not refried just like these beans are not baked. I make my beans in the crockpot you guys and it’s the easiest way to make ’em!
Recently I googled baked beans and was shocked to find that the first eight or so recipes I looked at all used canned beans. I mean, why? Making them from scratch is SO easy you guys, there is literally no reason not to make them yourself.
Baked Beans From Scratch – Easier Than You Might Think!
This homemade baked beans recipe is the only recipe you’ll ever need. While the beans aren’t “baked” they are slow cooked which is exactly what you do in the oven. The good news is you won’t need to soak the beans or anything, just a quick rinse and they go straight in the crockpot.
What I love about making them from scratch is that I control the ingredients. Sometimes I want the beans to be a little sweeter so I’ll add a tablespoon or two more of the brown sugar. Maybe I’m making them for a BBQ and I want them to have a bit more of a smoky flavor so I add in a half teaspoon or so of liquid smoke.
The options are endless but this recipe is the perfect jumping off point. This really is the best baked beans recipe!
Why Make Homemade Baked Beans
Canned beans are readily available in stores, so why make your own? Here’s why:
- cheap – I can get 12 servings out of this recipe easily for just a couple of dollars, probably less than that really.
- customize – using this easy baked beans recipe allows me to customize the flavor, sweetness, and smokiness by adding or omitting ingredients.
- control – my recipe, my ingredients, nothing added that I don’t need or want. This baked beans recipe uses very basic, readily available ingredients that you can find in any grocery store and the results are fantastic.
Crockpot vs. Oven Baked
While I’m a big fan of baked beans anyway I can get them, I love making slow cooker baked beans because it’s a great way to make them all year round.
- In the summer, when I’m making up a big batch for a BBQ, I just set the slow cooker out on the patio or in the garage so I don’t heat up the house.
- In the winter, I just have it on the kitchen countertop and people can serve themselves straight from the crockpot. It’s great for a party!
What You’ll Need
There are just six main ingredients in this slow cooker baked beans recipe plus salt, pepper and water. Optional ingredients include bacon, liquid smoke, and hamburger. See my notes in the Variations You Might Want To Try section below.
- dried navy beans or any small white bean will work
- dark brown sugar
- apple cider vinegar
- dry mustard
- freshly ground black pepper
- bacon (optional, see below)
- liquid smoke (optional, see below)
- hamburger (optional, see below)
Can you freeze baked beans? You sure can! Just let the beans cool, transfer to a freezer safe container (I prefer freezer bags) and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
How To Make Crockpot Baked Beans
I love this easy baked beans recipe because none of the ingredients have to be precooked. If you want to add bacon or hamburger, you will need to precook that and you can read about that below.
This is also a great recipe to cook overnight. The slow cooker baked beans take about 12 hours because they aren’t pre-soaked. I usually dump everything into the slow cooker before I go to bed, and the beans are ready whenever I need them the following day. Just turn the slow cooker to the warm setting after they are done.
- Rinse and pick through beans thoroughly.
- Combine all the ingredients in a 6 quart slow cooker. (Bacon gets added here if you are using.)
- Stir just until ingredients are combined.
- Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, about 12 hours.
- Stir in salt to taste and additional pepper if desired.
- Turn slow cooker to warm until ready to serve OR let cool before transfer to an airtight container and placing in the refrigerator.
Variations You Might Want To Try
This is a delicious yet basic crockpot baked beans recipe that we love to “dress” up on occasion. Here are some great ideas for you to try:
- add bacon – this recipe, is vegetarian as it stands but if you are looking for a baked beans with bacon recipe, all you need to do is cook up 1/2 pound of bacon(I prefer to make baked bacon), drain off the grease and chop it up. Add the bacon in step #2 as I have noted in the recipe. I love the smokiness that you get with bacon!
- liquid smoke – this is another way to add a bit of smokiness to thus recipe. Be careful, it is very strong in flavor, add maybe 1/2 teaspoon at first and taste test before adding more. This is a critical ingredient in my cowboy baked beans recipe and it it so good!
- ground beef or sausage – baked beans with ground beef is again a lot like my cowboy beans recipe with has ground beef and bacon in it. You would add the cooked ground beef or sausage in step #2.
- adjust the sweetness – all you need to do is add more or less dark brown sugar. I tend to like my beans a little on the sweet side so I would add up to two tablespoons more of the brown sugar.
More Favorite Side Dishes
- Creamed Corn – Two Ways!
- Loaded Scalloped Potatoes
- My Mom’s Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Twice Baked Potatoes
- Green Bean Recipe (my Nana’s and it is SO good!)
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Mashed Potatoes
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole
How To Make Baked Beans
Crockpot Baked Beans
- slow cooker
- 16 oz dried navy beans any small white bean will work
- 1 med onion diced
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 5 cups water
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb bacon cooked, drained, and cut into small pieces or crumbled - OPTIONAL
- Rinse and pick through beans thoroughly. (You want to pick out any bad beans that are cracked, darker then the rest, has holes or is shriveled. Also keep an eye out for small rocks - I rarely see these but I know it can happen.)
- Combine beans, onion, dark brown sugar, molasses, apple cider vinegar, mustard, water, and black pepper in a 6 quart slow cooker. (Bacon gets added here if you are using.)
- Stir just until ingredients are combined. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, about 12 hours.
- Stir in salt to taste and additional pepper if desired. Start with half a teaspoon and go from there.
- Turn slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.