Saturday, March 21, 2009

Classic Southern Style Baked Beans

Southern seasoned baked beans with chili sauce, mustard, brown sugar, bacon, onion and bell pepper - they're a cookout tradition! Pictured here with grilled ribs, Mama's Southern potato salad and marinated tomatoes.
Southern seasoned baked beans with chili sauce, mustard, brown sugar, bacon, onion and bell pepper - they're a cookout tradition! Pictured here with grilled ribs, Mama's Southern potato salad and marinated tomatoes.

Classic Southern Style Baked Beans

I have been cooking my baked beans pretty much this same way since the 70s. And all those years I have been doing them in this old Pyrex dish.

Well... that is until one day I dropped it and broke it. This was a wedding gift back then and I can't tell you how many potlucks that little carrier basket has been to over the years! {I told y'all I had some old dishes, though I guess the politically correct way to say that would be "vintage."}

You can certainly start with dry beans and cook up these baked beans from scratch if you prefer, and you can substitute any good brand of pork and beans (I recommend Van Camp's), but personally, I have always started with, and highly recommend, Bush's Original Baked Beans, if you prefer to go the name brand route on beans. You just cannot go wrong with Bush's - that ole dog Duke is right! Yes, they kinda have a little head start with the seasonings, and yes, they are pretty good all on their own heated in a saucepan, but, I like to jazz them up a bit more for baked beans. You won't regret using them!

We're all pinching pennies these days so I understand if you want to save money. Either way, these are easy, speedy and delicious and always a winner at any potluck or party.

I use a basic chili sauce in my beans which adds great flavor.

Heinz Chili Sauce is a tomato based product, containing tomato puree, onion, garlic and other seasonings.

I once substituted some Thai chili sauce, I had in the fridge that needed to be used up. I still used a bit of hot sauce and the Cajun seasoning and it worked out great, giving the beans a great, super spicy kick, though I gotta say... the next day, woooooweeeeeee were these some spicy, hot beans! Even a bit much for this gal, but hey, if you like spicy heat, try that, otherwise use something like good ole Heinz chili sauce, or substitute regular barbecue sauce, or even plain ketchup.

Hey while you're here, check out my other baked beans. While these classic brown sugar baked beans are my favorite standby and always welcomed, I've ventured outside of the box with a few other versions of baked beans. The Spicy Meat Trio Barbecued Baked Beans are delicious for the meat lovers in your life, because these are bumped up beefy barbecue baked beans y'all - good and meaty. I've also put up a Calico Baked Bean recipe made with a medley of bean varieties and a Hawaiian Baked Bean made with pineapple, after several of y'all told me how good they were, and I'd have to agree.

Now, back to the subject of bacon... Unlike many Southerners, I do not generally put strips of raw bacon across the top of my baked beans. It certainly isn't because I don't like bacon, and of course, my baked beans are cooked with plenty of bacon, because I believe that Southern baked beans simply must have bacon, no way around that one really, and preferably some bacon in every bite. I LOVE Wright's bacon - but look what I recently found! I love this one too. But hey, I've not met a bacon that I didn't like so far in this life, so use your own favorite.

Anyhoo.... while I do think putting bacon on top is nice for presentation at a picnic or potluck, I prefer to render the bacon in a skillet, saute the veggies in the drippings, and mixing half of it right into the beans, and putting the rest on top, giving a great smokey bacon flavor not only on top, but throughout the beans, without the excess fat from raw bacon dripping coating the top of the beans.

I'm also a fan of bacon done well and crispy, and when raw strips are baked on top, they either do not have enough time to cook through completely and crisp up, or else the beans get overcooked and dried out for the bacon to crisp up. I've noticed at every party I've ever seen baked beans topped with bacon, the bacon is always undercooked and just gets shoved to the side and rarely eaten. Frankly, bacon is a bit too costly these days for that! You can run the dish under the broiler at the end, but then you risk drying out and burning the top of the beans that way too.

All that to say, I prefer my bacon flavor mixed in the beans, with a little bit sprinkled on top, but for the purposes of being a blogger of Southern food, I have included the option in my recipes. If you prefer putting bacon on top, you go right on ahead and do that. There is no wrong way in your kitchen and don't let me, or any other Southerner tell you otherwise.

Here's how to make my favorite brown sugar, baked bean recipe, Southern style.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you're topping your beans with the strips of bacon, I prefer to parcook them a bit to render the fat and start the cooking process. Cook half of the bacon (enough to cover the top of your casserole dish) in a large skillet over medium heat until bacon is softened and bacon fat is rendered, but don't allow them to get completely crisp. Set those strips aside on a plate and reserve any drippings. If you're topping with chopped bacon, just cook it all together in the skillet, setting aside half to reserve for topping.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the remaining bacon, cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is softened.

Stir in the beans. Again, use whatever variety of pork and beans you like, but from day one I have always used Bush's original baked beans to start with - and actually that was the only Bush's beans back then, unlike the wide variety they have today. Use what you like though - like I always say, it's your kitchen. Baked with the additional seasonings, I have to tell you, these are the best baked beans!

Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 oblong baking dish, top with the strips or chopped, parcooked bacon.

Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F until bubbly, or about 35 to 45 minutes.

Check out more of my cookout foods on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Classic Southern Style Baked Beans

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 45 min | Yield: About 10 servings

  • 10 slices bacon, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped jalapeno or green bell pepper
  • 3 large (1 pound 12 ounce) cans of pork and beans (I prefer Bush's original baked beans)
  • 1/2 cup of chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If topping beans with strips of bacon, parcook half of the slices whole, just long enough to render the fat and begin the cooking process, but do not cook crisp. Otherwise, chop all of the bacon and cook; remove half and reserve for topping.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the remaining bacon and drippings in skillet, cook and stir over medium heat until softened. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 oblong baking dish, top with the reserved parcooked bacon and bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F about 35 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly.

Cook's Notes: I use Heinz Chili Sauce which is a tomato based product, containing tomato puree, onion, garlic and other seasonings. Plain ketchup or barbecue sauce may also be substituted. I also prefer to use Bush's beans, but substitute an equal amount of your favorite canned beans, or simply plain pork and beans, if desired. I recommend Van Camp's Pork and Beans. Add in a pound of cooked ground beef, or leftover bbq pork to make this a main dish. For a different flavor, add in a small can of drained, crushed pineapple.

Coca-Cola Baked Beans: Prepare a reduction of Coke, root beer or Dr Pepper by combining 1 cup with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over medium to medium high till reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir into beans before baking.

On the Traeger: Prepare as above, using a metal or sturdy aluminum pan. Preheat to smoke with lid open for 5 minutes. Close lid and increase temperature to 375 degrees F. When smoker comes to temperature, add beans, uncovered and cook for 30 minutes, until bubbly. Increase heat to 400/425 degrees F and continue cooking another 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned on top and bacon is thoroughly cooked. Carefully remove with oven mitts and set onto a trivet.

Stovetop Pork and Beans: Substitute equal amount of canned navy beans, drained but not rinsed. Prepare bacon, onion and bell pepper as above, adding beans and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to low simmer, cover and let cook on the stovetop for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not bake.

From Scratch: Prefer to make these from scratch using dry beans? Substitute two 1-pound bag of dry Navy (Pea) beans, or Great Northern beans. Place into a large pot and cover beans with water plus another 2 inches and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse, return to pot and cover with fresh water plus about 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or just until beans are tender and mixture thick. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out beans and proceed with recipe, increasing chili sauce to a full cup and adding in a tablespoon of molasses; stir in 1-1/2 cups of water or chicken broth. Adjust seasonings as needed before baking.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on March 21, 2009
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  1. Mmmm. Bush's beans are simply the best, and I highly recommend trying them before substituting any cheaper brand.

    I use Kraft honey barbeque in place of where you use chili sauce, and I use worchestershire (spelling?) sauce instead of any hot sauce in my Bush beans recipe, and I double the brown sugar. Otherwise, our recipes are the same....350 degrees for 45 minutes in that trusty old 9x13 Pyrex dish (not sure how any cook ever got along without them!). Oh, and you can't have too much bacon in this recipe.

    There's nothing like Southern cooking. Our taste buds are quite spoiled. :)

    Mobile, Alabama

    1. Michele, I've been making my beans this way forever, but I'll have to try those adjustments! Sounds good to me.

  2. I had high hopes when I clicked on this recipe for baked beans that it would be like the ones my mom used to make -- and it is! Thank you - this brings back good memories.

    Transplanted Southerner in Park Ridge, Illinois

    1. Thanks Sharon! It's one of those oldie recipes for sure.

  3. Michele, I've been making my beans this way forever, but I'll have to try those adjustments! Sounds good to me.

    Thanks Sharon! It's one of those oldie recipes for sure.

  4. I made this recipe but added one thing that I learned from my friends mom who was a caterer, I add a can of diced pineapple and a little juice. I call them Hawaiian beans, so yummy and everyone loves them and always requests me to bring this dish. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  5. I have heard that before Stephenie but have yet to try it. I LOVE pineapple so it sounds delish to me - gotta try it. Thanks!!

  6. We must have been seperated at birth! I have the same dishes "Baker In A Basket" pyrex 13x9 & the round one with the lid! My husband bought them for me in 1977 for our first Christmas...yeah I'm "Vintage" but I got married at 18 so...LOL Love this recipe, it's what my mom has made for years too. The only one that taste right to me.

  7. I love it Sheila!! That's actually the year I got that baker too for a wedding gift & I was 19 - I think it had the round bowl too, but I've since broken that. This is a classic recipe - I'd venture to say it's a "heritage" recipe!

  8. I made this for our cookout tomorrow. I took the idea of one of the reviewers and added a can of pineapple. I was so excited to taste it that when it came out of the oven I eagerly took a bite and burnt the roof of my mouth and some taste buds... now you know it has to be good eating if you can't wait for it cool to take a bite..!!
    ~Vanessa L.

  9. Oh no Vanessa! Yeah, hot beans can burn good. Well, you'll have to let me know how you liked it with the pineapple!

  10. I can't wait to add some "Slap Yo Mama" in a pan of baked beans...I'm LOVING that "stuff".

  11. I searched on some of the big recipe sites but couldn't find the recipes I wanted. I am so glad I found yours!! I made these beans for my family for our Memorial Day cookout and everyone raved over them. I love that feeling when you bring a dish somewhere and people go crazy over it and start begging for the recipe! =) Thank you and I will be trying many more on your page. - Missy

    1. Thank you so much Missy! I have had one of "those days" and reading your comment was just what I needed to hear. Thanks so much for taking the time to come by and share this. I'm so glad they were a hit!

  12. Mary, next time I am home, I want to get some Slap Yo Mama seasoning. Where can I find it at home? I need a dish for the yearly neighborhood cookout this Sunday, and, of course, I knew right where to look. I am making your Southern Style Baked Beans for the occasion. I used several of your recipes for Thanksgiving last year, when my son and granddaughter visited. Everything was a success. You saved me, as it had been a long time, since I had to cook for more than just myself. Cynthia "Cyd" Hebert

    1. Hey Cyd! Thanks so much - that really means a lot that you used my recipes. I have found that seasoning at Walmart, Rouse's and Winn Dixie. I think Piggly Wiggly has it too. It's pretty much everywhere around here!

  13. I started cooking with Bush's Baked beans back in the 70's when I got married. I would add green peppers, onions and Bac-Os bacon bits. That was the closest I came to cooking without a recipe. LOL I thought that was super good. This will be awesome!! Pinning it!!

    1. I was a 70s bride too Kim! Of course I was VERY VERY young LOL!!! ;)

  14. Bush's baked beans are quite good on their own but this definitely kicks it up a notch! I used your recipe for the chili sauce as well. We loved them, I especially liked the extra bell peppers.
    Thank you!

    1. You're welcome!! I do love the Bush's beans and there are so many varieties now too. I still love this the best though and it's even good with the plain pork and beans.

  15. I lived in the North but my Mother's cooking and my taste is like your Southern selections. This surprises me.
    I like your web site a lot.
    I can cook but it is not my favorite thing to do because of my Adult ADD. I get on my computer and my cooking burns. I need good timer.....any suggestions.

    1. Ah yes, these computers can be the downfall of any cook, trust me! I've been known to forget I have something going on the stovetop as well. I think I can attribute most of my distraction to just getting older though. :) As to the timer, I'm not sure what you are looking for? I rely on my microwave and oven timers mostly, though I do have a backup dial timer for when both of those are going. It's nothing special though and I'm sure I picked it up at Walmart!

  16. Mary, I’ve never made it this way, but definitely have to try it. Sounds like something that would go well with ribs and my Carolina slaw.
    I’d been making something similar, minus the Slap Ya’ Mama, since the early 60’s; back in NYC. The only ones who liked it was my dad and my grandfather. That’s okay by me. The beans of choice were always Campbell’s Pork & Beans. Though I love B&M Boston Baked Beans, they were 89₵ a can; whereas Campbell’s was only 18₵. Bush’s was nowhere to be found in NY. Here’s something I used to do if I wanted a little extra flavor in a hurry. I take a can of Campbell’s. drain off some of the liquid, then add about a half a teaspoon, or so, of yellow mustard, and then some maple syrup. It’s actually good. But I put it up on my weirdness scale with peanut butter on celery and peanut butter, bologna and mustard sandwiches.
    Thanks again. God bless.

    1. Oh no, sounds delicious to me!! Although I don't know about the p'b and bologna lol...

  17. Well, this was one of the side dishes from this site, that I made for my HUGE Christmas dinner. The only thing I did different is I added a few hot in laws love hot links in food, so I do that a lot. These were incredible, and luckily we had just (barely LOL) enough for a few days of leftovers. I tripled the recipe, because a lot of people showed up. Thank you! :)

  18. I love this recipe. I do add a little Wrights liquid smoke to it. Serve it up with some ribs and home made southern cole slaw and I am in heaven.


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