This smoked baked beans recipe is easy to make and turns out amazing. You get just the right amount of smoky BBQ flavor in every bite. Don't be surprised when these beans overshadow the main course at your next potluck or family BBQ.
First off, DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY SMOKING. Anyone can do this. If you don't have a dedicated smoker, no problem. This recipe also walks you through how to smoke these beans on a basic charcoal grill.
There is a ton of flavor in these smoked baked beans. And it's no wonder, with ingredients like...
- Bacon & Onions
- RO-TEL Diced Tomatoes
- BBQ Sauce
- Brown Sugar
- and a few other flavor bombs
But the star of this dish is the smoke flavor that permeates the beans.
There is a simple trick to get this type of deep smoke penetration that you will only find here!
It's the addition of smoke that elevates these beans from basic (a.k.a. boring) baked beans to AMAZING baked beans—the kind that folks will rave about at your cookout.
And don't think they have to be hot to eat them. These beans are even good cold. We eat them this way all the time...sometimes for breakfast, is that weird?
Wonder if I'm exaggerating? Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.
How to make amazing smoked baked beans
Begin by pre-heating your smoker
Set your smoker to 275ºF and allow it to pre-heat until you have clean smoke exiting the vents. This usually takes 20-30 minutes.
Clean smoke is thin and bluish white in color. There will be times where it's almost transparent...but don't worry, this is normal.
Whatever you do, do not add food to your smoker if it's billowing thick white or grey smoke, because it's full of creosote which will stick to your food and give it an unpalatable funk.
Are you smoking on a charcoal grill?
If so, there is a special way to set up your charcoal and wood chunks to maintain this 275ºF temperature. Below is a sneak peek of how it will look.
For full details and instruction for how to do this, review my post How to Smoke on a Charcoal Grill.
It will cover everything you need to know, including:
- Charcoal and wood chunk placement
- Proper lighting of the coals
- How to maintain a consistent grill temperature (vent adjustments)
Assemble the ingredients
While your grill is pre-heating, it's time to make the tray of baked beans. Start by getting your ingredients assembled and ready to go.
|56 oz Bush's Baked Beans||¼ C Brown Sugar|
|8 Strips Bacon||1 tablespoon AC Vinegar|
|1 Onion, chopped||1 tablespoon Yellow Mustard|
|10 oz RO-TEL Tomatoes||1 teaspoon Black Pepper|
|½ C BBQ Sauce||½ teaspoon Garlic Powder|
|¼ C Ketchup||½ teaspoon Cayenne (opt)|
Regarding the BBQ sauce...I recommend you use whatever sauce your family prefers. For our family, that's Famous Daves, Rich & Sassy.
It doesn't matter if the sauce spicy, sweet or tangy. It will push the overall flavor profile a bit in that direction, and that's a good thing...because your family likes that flavor.
Start by cooking the bacon
Cut the raw bacon into one inch pieces and cook them over medium heat in a large skillet.
But only cook the bacon until it's about 75% done.
These partially cooked bacon pieces will finish cooking in the smoker after you add them on top of the beans.
Transfer the partially cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Leave the hot bacon grease in the skillet.
Then saute the onions
Add the chopped onions to the skillet with the hot bacon grease. Continue to cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
Prepare the bean mixture
While the onions are cooking, let's get the bean mixture together.
In a large bowl, add the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne.
Whisk thoroughly to combine.
Then stir in all the beans (including the sauce) and RO-TEL tomatoes (drained).
When the onions are done, add them and stir until everything is evenly distributed.
Don't add the bacon yet! We'll do that later after the beans have smoked for a while.
Now, pour the mixture into a 9 x13 inch pan.
I prefer to use disposable pans because I don't like putting nice casserole dishes in a dirty smoker. Also, they make for easy clean up.
Time to get smoking!
Once your smoker is pre-heated to 275ºF and you have clean smoke billowing out of your grill, it's time to put the beans on.
How long to smoke the baked beans
The beans will smoke for a total of 2 ½ hours at 275ºF.
These beans can cook at lower or higher temps but make sure to extend or reduce the cook time as necessary. You will know they are done when the sauce is bubbling.
During this 2 ½ hours of smoking, there are a few things you need to do (see below).
At 30, 60 & 90 minute marks:
It's important to stir the beans every 30 minutes in the first hour and a half of smoking.
THIS IS THE SECRET TO DEEP SMOKE PENETRATION.
Since smoke will only adhere to the top layer, it is necessary to stir the beans periodically. This gets us the most smoke flavor possible.
It also makes sure all the beans are evenly cooked.
At 90 minute mark:
At the 90 minute mark, you need to:
- First, rotate the tray of beans 180º. This just ensures a more uniform cook.
- Stir the beans for the 3rd time.
- Top the beans with the partially cooked bacon pieces.
Let the beans continue to smoke for an additional 60 minutes, undisturbed (no stirring).
This will finish cooking the bacon and put a great smoke flavor on the final top layer.
Remove and let it rest
After 2 ½ hours, the smoked baked beans are done cooking.
Remove them from the smoker and provide one last stir to mix in that top layer of smoky bacon goodness.
Then let it rest 15-20 minutes and serve.
Want to make this ahead of time?
It's always nice to have all your cooking done days before any party. Especially for a dish that takes 2 ½ hours.
Good news! This recipe is incredibly easy to make-ahead.
- Smoke the baked beans up to 3 days before your event.
- Then refrigerate the beans in an airtight container.
- On the day of the party, transfer the beans to a crockpot to reheat.
All that smoky BBQ flavor will still be there waiting for you and your guests.
Interested in other fantastic side dishes
Below are other top notch side dish recipes you may want to take a gander at.
- Creamy Pasta Salad
- Chimichurri Pasta Salad
- Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze
- Tangy 3-Bean Salad
- Arugula-Shaved-Fennel Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
We hope you love these smoked baked beans!
- 56 oz Bush's baked beans (or 4 ea. 15 oz cans)
- 8 strips bacon
- 1 onion, chopped
- 10 oz RO-TEL diced tomatoes (drained)
- ½ C BBQ sauce (your favorite)
- ¼ C ketchup
- ¼ C brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Pre-heat your smoker to 275ºF.
- Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium heat. Once they are 75% done, remove onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Do not remove the bacon grease from the skillet.
- Add the chopped onion to the skillet with the hot bacon grease. Cook over medium heat until soft and translucent. 5-7 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Add the beans, sauce, and RO-TEL diced tomatoes.
- When the onions are done, add them to the large bowl as well.
- Thoroughly mix until all the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
- Pour the bean mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish or disposable pan.
- Place the beans into your smoker.
- Stir the beans every 30 minutes for first 1 ½ hours (3 times).
- After 1 ½ hours, rotate the beans 180º, stir one last time, and top with your partially cooked bacon. Allow this to smoke, undisturbed, for 60 minutes.
- After 2 ½ hours total cooking time, remove the beans, stir and let rest 15 minutes before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 209Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 793mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 9g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!