The Best Barbecue Beans Recipe

A crock of barbecue beans being stirred with a wooden spoon.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It 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.

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.

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

Recipe Facts



Active: 30 mins
Total: 14 hrs
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 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


  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.

    A bowl of mixed dried beans soaking in water

  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.

    Chopped bacon rendering in a pot.

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  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.

    Stirring a pot of beans with bacon and chopped peppers.

    Serious Eats

  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.

    Barbecue baked beans being stirred with a wooden spoon in an enamel cast iron Dutch oven

    Serious Eats

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
538 Calories
11g Fat
90g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 538
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 1151mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 90g 33%
Dietary Fiber 13g 46%
Total Sugars 48g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 23mg 115%
Calcium 168mg 13%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 1422mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)