This is hands-down the BEST slow cooker baked beans recipe around. This easy barbecue side dish is the perfect combination of smoky, sweet, and savory.
I never thought I’d grow up to be “famous” for my baked beans, but here we are.
On both sides of my family, my baked beans recipe has kind of been adopted as THE RECIPE for baked beans. It’s at almost every family cookout in the summer from family reunions to Memorial Day, 4th of July barbecues, and Labor Day.
I basically never make it without doubling the recipe since everyone always wants seconds! After giving it a try, I think you’ll agree. We took our favorite baked beans recipe and made it in the slow cooker to make things easier than ever. Once you get everything into the crock pot, there’s no babysitting or watching. It’s a total set and forget recipe–no oven necessary!
These crockpot baked beans are my #1 most-requested recipe for family gatherings of all kinds and after you make it for your next cookout, it might just be yours, too!
Here’s what you need to make our slow cooker baked beans with bacon…
Here’s What You need To Make Crock Pot Baked Beans:
- Bacon. Yep! These slow cooker baked beans are made with bacon for a gorgeous smoky, savory flavor. I prefer uncured bacon that’s nitrate free.
- Onion. Then, you’ll scrape up all the glorious browned bits from the pan with a bit of onion. Softening the onion first like this also helps the beans get the best texture later.
- Three Kinds Of Beans. I make my slow cooker baked beans with canned beans for ease. My favorite is to use a blend of kidney beans, Great Northern beans, and butter beans. Butter beans aren’t always the easiest to find, so feel free to add more Great Northern beans, navy beans, or cannellini beans (white kidney beans) instead.
- Brown Sugar. For sweetness and classic flavor. You can substitute half the amount of pure maple syrup or use the same amount of a keto brown sugar alternative, as desired.
- Ketchup. Good ol’ classic ketchup helps make the sauce for these crock pot baked beans. We usually reach for Heinz, but feel free to use your favorite brand.
- Barbecue Sauce. Use your family’s favorite! We’ve made these with all kinds of gluten-free brands over the years–Ray’s no sugar added, Stubb’s Sticky Sweet, Bone Suckin’ sauce, and barbecue sauce made from our local barbecue place.
- Molasses. This plays up the brown sugar notes and adds a lovely depth.
- Yellow Mustard. For tang and acidity in all the best ways.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Adding a bit of extra acid to a recipe brings out the brightness in the other flavors and keeps them from tasting flat. If your barbecue sauce is pretty vinegary, feel free to leave this out!
- Worcestershire Sauce. Make sure to use gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, as needed!
- Black Pepper. Don’t skip it! It adds warmth and a tiny kick.
- A Little Water. This makes the beans nice and saucy and helps prevent the sauce from scorching as it cooks.
LET’S TALK SLOW-COOKERS! Last, but not least, you can’t make slow cooker baked beans without a slow cooker! We usually use this one–it’s pretty, inexpensive, and reliable. If you’re looking for something with a few more bells and whistles, this one is preprogrammable and comes with lid clips to keep the lid in place while you transport it (perfect for potlucks!).
How To MAke Slow Cooker Baked Beans, Step By Step:
- Crisp The Bacon. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Add the cooked bacon to the crock of your slow cooker and reserve at least 2-3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet. (Feel free to keep all the bacon fat for the richest flavor, or you can discard it/reserve the remaining bacon fat for another use.)
- Soften The Onion. Add onion to the skillet with the bacon fat and cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is softening and partly translucent. Stir regularly to scrape up as many browned bits from the pan as you can.
- Mix Up The Beans. (If you haven’t already, drain and rinse the beans in a colander) Add the softened onion & the bacon fat to the slow cooker along with the butter beans, kidney beans, and Great Northern beans. Add brown sugar, ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Pour in the water and stir until the mixture is uniform and well blended. (This helps you avoid scorching.)
- Cook the beans 3-4 hours on HIGH or 7-8 hours on LOW.
- Taste & Adjust. Before serving, taste the beans and adjust the seasoning as desired, adding more brown sugar, mustard, bbq sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, or salt, as needed.
- Serve & Store. Enjoy the beans warm. Chill leftovers and store leftover baked beans in the fridge in an airtight container 3-4 days.
Different brands of barbecue sauce & ketchup have different levels of sweetness, acidity, and smokiness. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amounts of ingredients at the end to get the flavor right where you want it.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Baked Beans:
Can I Just Dump & Go? Other than cooking the bacon first, you can make these as dump and go slow cooker baked beans by simply adding all the ingredients to your slow cooker, stirring to combine, and setting it to cook. For the best texture and flavor, though, I highly recommend cooking the bacon first, then softening the onion a bit as you scrape up the browned bits from the pan. It helps the onion melt into the baked beans as they cook.
Can I Make These Vegetarian? You can. As much as I love them with the bacon, you can absolutely make these as vegetarian slow cooker baked beans. Use a vegan/vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, saute the onion in olive oil, and consider adding a splash of liquid smoke.
Can I Use Dried Beans Instead? You’d need to cook the beans in advance before adding them to the slow cooker for this recipe.
Can I Make Crock Pot Baked Beans In Advance? Yep! If you’re serving them the same day, I recommend just using the 7-8 hours on LOW option for the best flavor. If you’d like to make them in advance, you can reheat them in the slow cooker on low for about an hour before serving them the next day. (Or reheat on the stove) They’ll keep 3-4 days in the fridge.
⭐ Don’t forget to leave a star review and comment below when you make our easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans recipe. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!Print