So I’ve lived all over the US–I grew up in Utah, live in the South, and have lived briefly on the West and East coasts. And no matter where I go, there are baked beans and no matter where I go, everyone truly believes that baked beans originated in that particular region or in their family. I like them okay–if you’ve ever served me baked beans, I’ve probably enjoyed them. But one issue I have with them is that they are almost always way too sweet; most recipes are simmered in ketchup, which is already quite sweet, and then they have a generous amount of brown sugar as well as molasses. Usually I have a few bites and call it good.

Well, a few years ago, I found this cookbook in a used bookstore and I have loved nearly everything I’ve made from it (although that BLT pasta salad was way better in concept than reality). One of my favorite recipes has been for the baked beans. I love that instead of ketchup, the sauce is based on stewed tomatoes. Instead of the usual 1/2 c. or more of brown sugar, it only calls for 2 tablespoons, and the molasses is enough to add a little sweetness and richness, but it’s not overpowering. I also love that you can throw everything together a few days ahead of time and then pop it in the oven an hour before you need it or, if it works better for you, you can even cook these puppies in a slow cooker. Not to mention the fact that my (semi-picky and super-picky) kids will inevitably eat these rather than whatever we’re eating as a main dish. Normally that wouldn’t fly at my house, but this side dish is relatively balanced and I’m more than happy to let them fill up on beans.
One kind of unique thing about this recipe is that it uses 4 different varieties of beans:

Now…this picture may look like an advertisement for Bush’s beans, but really, it’s an illustration of my OCD tendencies. See, I’m all about getting a deal and am totally all for generic brands. However, the pinto beans were the only ones available as the store brand; the rest were Bush’s and I couldn’t have a picture of 3 cans of Bush’s beans and 1 can of Walmart beans.

Everything else you need is probably in your cupboards and refrigerators:

All you have to do is fry up a few slices of bacon, cook your onions in the bacon drippings, rinse and drain your beans,
add your bacon,

and your sauteed onions,

then combine the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook it all together until your house smells amazing. It’s perfect for any type of festivity any time throughout the year, but there is something about a big pan of baked beans at a cookout that just fits, you know?

P.S. I totally realize that my ramekin is chipped, but I totally didn’t realize it until I saw this picture. Apparently my dishes have become like the Velveteen Rabbit or something and I love them so much that I don’t realize their flaws until they’re staring back at me from a computer screen.



  1. 1
    slmpetersen says:

    I like the fact that these beans are tomato based rather than ketchup based. Might gives these ago without the sugar, as hubby dislike sweet beans completely, but I think the flavor of these could stand on it's own. Thanks for the idea!

  2. 2
    MollyE says:

    Yum, I am excited to try this! I love baked beans and I needed a good recipe.

  3. 3
    Sharron says:

    I agree with you. Most BB are too sweet. Having hamburgers and hot dogs tonight, think I'll put on batch right now into the slow cooker!

  4. 4
    Jen says:

    Well this is timely! I have to take baked beans to a potluck tonight and got online to find a recipe!

  5. 5
    jmommy08 says:

    Can you use dry beans for this? Or should you cook them up seperately and then add them in?

  6. 6
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    jmommy08–I've never tried dry beans, but if you do use them, you'd have to cook them up before you cook everything together.

    Jen–Mind reading is a hobby of mine… 🙂

  7. 7

    Just in time for BBQ season! And I'm with you, I always thought they were a little too sweet. I'll have to try these!

    [PS: I totally get the OCD thing!]

  8. 8
    Sara says:

    I too am excited to try this – I have a pressure cooker baked bean recipe that I love but it is really sweet – I know this will taste great b/c EVERYTHING I have tried on this site has been DEE-licious. Thanks!

  9. 9
    Suzanne says:

    How much do you taste the tomatoes? The thing I like most about the sweet baked beans is that there isn't a lot of acidity, but I love the sounds of these beans.

  10. 10
    leslie the licorice stick lady says:

    Thanks! I've been wanting a good recipe for these. My friend makes a good recipe too, but she adds hot dogs to hers with bacon, and I'd rather not have hot dogs in mine.

  11. 11
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Suzanne–The tomato taste really isn't overpowering–really, after it's cooked and once it's combined with the sugar and molasses, it tastes like traditional baked beans, only a little more "natural," you know? The tomatoes definitely aren't overwhelming or pasta sauce-like at all.

  12. 12
    Amy says:

    I am SO going to try these! I'm not a fan of baked beans. My number one complaint is that they are WAY TOO SWEET. Eeeeew! These look perfect. Thanks so much!

  13. 13
    Lisa says:

    How many does this recipe serve?

  14. 14
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Lisa, I would probably say 8-10 generous servings and 10-12 smaller ones.

  15. 15
    Jennifer says:

    I have to say I have never made baked beans with so many different kinds of beans at once! I love the variety in this! I am now craving baked beans like mad……

  16. 16
    reciperhapsody says:

    I love your OCD tendencies! Getting all one brand just for the picture is totally something I would do–your fellow bloggers totally understand! This recipe sounds wonderful–I'm gonna try it out at a family cookout in a few weeks. Thanks! ~Veronica

  17. 17
    Jen says:

    Coming back to report that these are AWESOME. I couldn't find baby butter beans so I added a second can of navy beans instead. I put them in the crockpot and my house smells SO good!

  18. 18
    Maranda says:

    I've actually been looking for a good baked beans recipe for a while now. The Hubble hates them because they are too sweet. Maybe I'll give these a try and see if they pass his test. Thanks for sharing!

  19. 19
    Susie says:

    How do these store? Can you freeze them at all so that you can have them throughout the summer? Just curious. 🙂

  20. 20
    tren says:

    I made these last night and they were really good! I couldn't find baby butter beans, so I just used the regular sized ones. I cooked them in the oven in a 9 x 13, but next time, I'm going to try them in the slow cooker. Thanks!

  21. 21
    HWFA says:

    I want to use these as a main dish … is there something else I could serve them with to make that work that isn't hamburgers and hot dogs??? thanks!!

  22. 22
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    HWFA–What about barbecued chicken? Or the fauxtisserie chicken here on the blog? There's ribs, turkey burgers, or maybe a cobb or chef salad. Or you could make a meal out of side dishes like the baked beans, corn on the cobb, cornbread, coleslaw, etc. Hope that helps! 🙂

  23. 23
    HWFA says:

    Kate … I love your ideas!! Thanks!! THe meal of side dishes is fun and different, I'm starting there 🙂

  24. 24
    Keri says:

    My husband and I threw this together in the crockpot on the morning of Mother’s Day and enjoyed them with dinner that night. So easy and just the right amount of sweetness. Thanks so much!

  25. 25
    Colleen says:

    Just made these for a BBQ to go w/briskit (sp?) they were a hit & perfect w/the meat..yum!!

  26. 26
    Andrea says:

    Do you drain any of the bacon grease out of the onions or put it all in?

    • 26.1

      It’s up to you and your bacon. 🙂 If it seems like there’s a lot of grease, go ahead and drain some of it, but a leaner cut will render less fat. You’ll want in the neighborhood of at least 2-3 tablespoons.

  27. 27
    Julie H says:

    I made these for a potluck last weekend. They were a huge hit… People wanted the recipe. Thanks!

  28. 28
    Susan W. says:

    How many will this recipe feed?

  29. 29
    Jess T says:

    I made this recipe prior to eliminating pork from my diet and remember it being very tasty. I’d like to make this again, without the bacon. Any suggestions for substitutions/alterations? I’m thinking maybe a few dashes of liquid smoke and perhaps a tiny bit of chipotle chili powder.

  30. 30
    ashaw0805 says:

    Do you think turkey bacon will work in this? I am trying to “lighten up” my eating.


  31. 31
    Mindy says:

    Hi! I made these today for a get together and they were delicious. I prepped it all the night before and then stuck it in the oven in the afternoon. My husband, friends, and I enjoyed it. The only thing though is that they came out runny. Would you know why that is?

  32. 32
    Suzanne says:

    Mine came out runny toooo! Maybe we were supposed to drain the canned tomatos? I just dumped the whole can in the blender.

  33. 33

    […] Not too sweet baked beans. Perfect for those summer […]

  34. 34
    David says:

    Canned beans are so salty. It would have been a better dish using soaked natural beans without the hidden salt.

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