This recipe for baked beans with molasses and bacon is the only baked beans recipe you need. It is always a hit as is the perfect balance of smokey, not too sweet, and loaded with flavor.
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📖Why This Recipe Works
Our molasses baked bean recipe is the perfect balance of low maintenance and robust flavors. Using cooked canned beans speeds up the process and is significantly quicker than making baked beans from scratch using dried beans.
And by using unflavored pinto and navy beans we can control the level of sweetness and add our own seasonings for the perfect flavor. Molasses adds both sweetness and complexity.
But with just a dash of brown sugar these beans are not overly sweet, which is the problem with many canned baked bean recipes.
- Canned Beans- A 50/50 blend of pinto and navy beans gives a bit of interest as opposed to using one type of bean. You can cold soak and cook your own beans from scratch if you like.
- Molasses- I recommend using basic light or dark molasses for this recipe. And while I love blackstrap molasses (like in our gluten-free spice cake), I find it too bitter for baked beans.
- Bacon- A thicker cut bacon works best. For a bit of extra flair try peppered bacon. You can also add extra bacon to the top.
- Onion and Garlic
- Stock-I recommend beef stock for the best flavor, but you can also use chicken or vegetable broths.
- Brown Sugar- We only use a quarter cup but if you like your baked beans on the sweeter side add more. You can also substitute maple syrup.
- Brown Mustard- A more complex flavor than yellow mustard, you can substitute Dijon mustard as well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Paprika- For a smokier flavor try smoked paprika.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
⏲️How to Make Baked Beans
Before you begin preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. These beans cook low and slow.
Step 1- Saute
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. I prefer to do this on a lower setting so the fat renders out. Depending on how much fat is left in the pan I typically do not drain.
All that fat is good flavor! Add your diced onion and saute for 5 minutes. The onion will be soft but not caramelized. Add your garlic and saute until just fragrant- about 30 seconds.
Step 2- Combine
Before adding the remaining ingredients to the pan, we need to drain the beans. Do not drain all 4 cans, drain only 2 of the cans of beans! The remaining liquid is a great binder for the overall dish.
Add bacon along with the remaining ingredients. You can reserve some bacon to set on top of the casserole before baking. Mix well and bring to a simmer. The beans will be soupy.
Step 3- Bake
Pour into a large casserole dish and cover with a lid or foil. Bake 20 minutes covered and then 25 minutes uncovered. The liquid should reduce by at least half and the beans should be thick and caramelized.
🥗What to Pair with Baked Beans
Baked beans make an excellent side dish for our BBQ chicken thighs, smoked baby back ribs, and our bacon and blue cheese Wagyu burgers. The sweetness of the beans pairs perfectly with our spicy coleslaw.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
Draining half the bean water, but not all, creates the perfect textured sauce. You keep the starches from the beans but ensure they aren't too soupy.
💭 Vegetarian Baked Beans
This recipe is easily adapted to be vegetarian or even vegan. Simply skip the bacon and saute the onion in butter. And substitute vegetable broth or stock for the beef.
I highly recommend using smoked paprika in vegetarian baked beans because you lose the quintessential smokey flavors that baked beans have when you skip the bacon.
To make baked beans in advance, crisp the bacon and set it aside. Saute the onion and garlic and assemble according to the recipe. However, leave the bacon out of the dish. Store the bacon in a sealed container in the fridge.
Pour the beans into the casserole dish and cover. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days. To cook, bring to room temperature and stir in the bacon crumbles. Bake according to the recipe directions but allow an additional 10 minutes covered.
Leftover baked beans can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat microwave on high until warmed through or reheat in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat.
More BBQ Side Dishes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Canned baked beans often contain gluten in the form of malt (from barley) or natural flavors (undefined ingredients). This is why making baked beans from plain canned beans is preferred.
Our baked recipe is gluten-free.
Unsulphured dark molasses is recommended. Blackstrap molasses are lovely but too bitter for the sweetness of this recipe.
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Molasses Baked Beans with Bacon
- 1 pound bacon chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 1 large sweet onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 14-ounce cans pinto beans drain 1 can only
- 2 14-ounce cans navy beans drain 1 can only
- 1 cup beef stock
- ½ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels. Do not drain the pan.1 pound bacon
- Add the onion to the pan with the bacon drippings and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.1 large sweet onion, 1 clove garlic
- Stir in the beans, beef stock, molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, paprika, and cooked bacon, and mix well.2 14-ounce cans pinto beans, 2 14-ounce cans navy beans, 1 cup beef stock, ½ cup molasses, ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons brown mustard, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon paprika
- Pour into a large casserole and bake covered for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 25 minutes.