Barbecue Beans Recipe | Grilling


Each week Joshua Bousel drops by with a recipe for you to grill over the weekend. Fire it up, Joshua!

I'm going out on a limb here, because this is technically not barbecue, or grilling. But there are few other sides so ubiquitous with both as barbecue beans. Although tastes vary widely across the nation, I can't think of a barbecue joint I've been that has not had beans on their menu, and it's also, rightfully, one of the most frequent sides cooked up in my house.

It's hard for me to fire up the smoker without making a batch of these beans—especially since I can just throw them in with whatever is smoking and let them cook, low and slow, until the perfect balance of flavor and tenderness is achieved. It takes a good six hours or so for this to happen, but patience is well rewarded, with a deeply sweet and meaty tasting bean that has just the right touch of heat to balance it all out.

Barbecue Beans

Adapted from Alton Brown

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 16 hrs
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • Vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

  2. Heat smoker between 225-250 degrees, or heat over to 250 degrees.

  3. Place a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, and molasses.

  4. Drain the beans and reserve the soaking liquid. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Place the soaking liquid in a measuring cup and add enough vegetable broth to equal 4 cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the smoker or oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender.