The Best Barbecue Beans

For the absolute best barbecue beans, it's hard to beat the deep flavor of dried beans slowly cooked in sauce for many hours. [Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

The time investment of using dried beans pays in this recipe, which produces some of the best barbecue beans you'll ever have—a slowly reduced sauce packs a deep and complex barbecue flavor while tender and creamy beans round it out.

Why this recipe works:

  • Contrary to popular belief, soaking the beans in salt water prevents them from bursting and gives them an even creamier texture.
  • Bacon gives the beans their must-have smoky and meaty flavor.
  • Boiling the beans for an hour prior to adding any acidic liquids helps them cook a little faster.
  • Slowly cooking the beans in the oven lets them gently cook while the sauce slowly thickens and becomes more complex.

Note: You can use a single type, or mixed variety of beans.

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The Best Barbecue Beans

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 6-8 as a side dish
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:14-16 hours
This recipe appears in: The Best Barbecue Beans, Whether You Have 1 Hour or 16

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound small dried beans, such as great northern, navy, or pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 1/2 cups finely minced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced seeded jalapeño (about 1 medium pepper)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon barbecue rub
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a large container, whisk together 2 quarts water and salt until salt has dissolved. Add beans, cover, and let stand overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse beans.

  2. 2

    Place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until fat has rendered and bacon has crisped, 7-10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving as much fat in dutch oven as possible.

  3. 3

    Add onion to dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and begins to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes. Stir in green pepper, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups of water, chicken stock, reserved bacon, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 300°F while beans are simmering.

  4. 4

    Stir in ketchup, brown sugar, honey, molasses, mustard, vinegar, barbecue rub, and hot sauce. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook beans for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook until beans are tender throughout and sauce has thickened, about 1 hour longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Season with salt. Serve immediately; alternatively, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze. Reheat before serving.

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