Rating: 5 stars 5
4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
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It's not a real barbecue until a dish of baked beans shows up! While there are many different versions and many different techniques, I'm here to tell you that these are the best. These are the tastiest, most satisfying, the easiest, and the meatiest. They not only make a great side dish, but if the budget's a little tight, these will absolutely work as a main course. Sprinkle the top with sliced green onion if you like.


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

8 hrs
15 mins
3 hrs 5 mins
11 hrs 20 mins

Calling a recipe "the best" is always a risky proposition, since these things are purely subjective; so what I really should have called this is, "What Chef John Thinks is the Best Barbecue Baked Beans." That would have been more accurate, but also kind of self-aggrandizing, and way too long, so I decided to stick to my guns, and simply proclaim this to be the best. Which it is.

Above and beyond the incredible taste, perfect texture, and impressive meatiness, this is also a very simple recipe to make, as long as you have a few hours baking time to invest. To me, the secret to a perfect dish of baked beans is a long, slow cooking time. Well, that's one of the secrets. The other is to not kill the beans with too much sugar, which in my opinion, almost every other baked bean recipe does.

We're only adding 1/4 cup of brown sugar here, which along with the barbecue sauce, ketchup, and molasses, provides what I think is plenty of sweetness to balance the other flavors. Feel free to add more if you want, but I want this to be as savory as it is sweet. Speaking of savory, you don't have to use as much meat as I did, but if you do, this could certainly be served as a main course, which is a great option if the barbecue budget is a little tight. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. 


Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Add dry beans to a bowl, cover with water, and let soak for 8 hours, or overnight.

  • Drain beans and transfer to a large pot filled with 3 quarts of cold, fresh water. Add bay leaf, pork shoulder, and onion. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir. Skim off foam if desired. Let simmer until beans are just tender, about 1 hour.

  • While beans simmer, combine barbecue sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder in a bowl with a whisk. Set aside until needed.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • Transfer tender bean mixture to a deep, 15x10-inch baking dish using a spider strainer. Pour in barbecue sauce mixture and 2 ½ cups of the bean cooking liquid. Place bacon slices on top.

  • Bake uncovered in the center of the preheated oven until the liquids have reduced into a thick sauce, 2 to 3 hours.

Chef's Notes:

Any dry bean will work, but red beans are my recommendation.

Baking time will depend on amount of liquid, as well as size and shape of pan, so start checking doneness after 1 1/2 hours, but may need to go much longer.

Nutrition Facts

273 calories; fat 6.9g; cholesterol 9.5mg; sodium 995.3mg; carbohydrates 42.9g; protein 11.1g. Full Nutrition