When BBQ season comes around, my mind goes straight to the beans.
I’ve loved BBQ baked beans for as long as I can remember. They’re equal parts savory and sweet with a little spice. My version includes instructions for both dry pinto beans and canned, depending on how much time you’ve got on your hands. Let us show you how easy it is!
Origin of Baked Beans
The exact origin of baked beans isn’t clear, but there are a few theories. One theory suggests that they may have originated from a Native American dish that involved cooking beans in fat and maple syrup. Another says that the dish is based on French bean stew cassoulet.
Then, in the late 1800s, an entrepreneur named Henry Heinz introduced his baked beans to the US and later the UK. Baked beans are now common in many areas of the world. Thank goodness because we love baked beans!
How to Make BBQ Baked Beans
This 1-pot recipe starts with pinto beans that are soaked overnight (or at least 6 hours). They’re then simmered with a little vegetable broth and water. That’s where the fun begins.
Mustard is added for a little tanginess, tomato paste for a hearty tomato flavor, coconut sugar for natural sweetness, and chili powder for heat. Next come salt and pepper to taste and an optional dash of hot sauce for a little heat to balance the sweetness.
The real secret of these beans comes from a dash of liquid smoke, which adds a smokiness that traditionally comes from bacon. This meat-free version is just as rich and satisfying as the “real deal.”
We hope you LOVE these beans! They’re:
Easy to make
& So delicious
These beans would make the perfect side to just about any grilled dish like our Grillable Veggie Burgers, BBQ Black Bean Burger, and Grilled Veggie Skewers. They would also pair especially well with our Garlicky Kale Salad and Simple French-Style Potato Salad!
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
1-Pot BBQ Baked Beans
- 3 cups dry pinto beans* (soaked overnight in cool water, or at least 6 hours)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (if avoiding oil, sub water)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth (or store-bought // we prefer Imagine brand, not Trader Joe’s)
- Water (enough to cover beans by 1 inch)
- 2 Tbsp yellow or spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 cup tomato paste (plus more to taste)
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar (more or less to taste // or sub maple syrup or stevia)
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1-2 Tbsp chili powder* (adjust to preferred spice level)
- 1-2 tsp liquid smoke (adds smoky flavor that typically comes from bacon)
- 1 tsp hot sauce (optional // we like Tapatio)
- Add pinto beans to a large pot and cover with cool water (at least a few inches above the beans as they will expand). Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight* uncovered at room temperature. Once beans are soaked, drain and set aside.
- Heat your large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil (or water), diced onion, and bell pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, or until onion is soft and translucent.
- Next, add drained beans and vegetable broth and cover with water about 1 inch over the top, as the beans will expand while cooking. Bring to a low boil. Then reduce heat to low or medium-low so it simmers but doesn’t boil. Cook uncovered for 1 hour or until beans are tender.
- Once the beans are tender and cooked through, add remaining seasonings: Mustard, tomato paste, coconut sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, liquid smoke, and hot sauce (optional). Stir to coat and cook on low for 10-15 more minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, chili powder or hot sauce for heat, coconut sugar for sweetness, mustard for tanginess, or tomato paste for depth of flavor. You want them very well seasoned, so don’t be shy!
- Your beans are now ready to enjoy! Store leftovers well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Will keep in the freezer for 1 month (oftentimes longer).
*The chili powder I used was from Whole Foods and contains a blend of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano, coriander, cloves and allspice.
*6-8 hours is the optimal amount of time for soaking your beans. The longer you soak them, the more tender they will become, and the more likely they will split and separate during cooking. So if you can’t get to them right away, simply drain, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
*I recently discovered that Trader Joe’s beans are BPA-free, which is great news if you forget to prep ahead of time. In a pinch, buying cans that are BPA-free is still a good option. Just use about 5 cups well-drained beans (measured after draining) in place of the dry beans. Cook the onion and pepper as instructed. Then add beans but omit the vegetable broth and water, skip the 1-hour simmering time, and go straight for the tomato paste, mustard, and spices, etc. Cook as instructed from there.
*Recipe method adapted from Ree Drummond.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 half-cup serving (of 10) servings. The recipe as written yields roughly 5 cups cooked beans.