Slow Cooker Baked Beans

I love baked beans – a lot.  I don’t like many canned baked beans, but I used to love these: yes, baked beans with chicken.  I used to eat half a can and call it dinner.  Kind of gross, huh?  I’m not sure that they even still make these because I haven’t seen them on the shelf in years (trust me, I’ve looked).

The next time I fell in love (instead of just “like” with baked beans, it was at the Fiery Foods Festival at the North Market this spring.  A vendor was selling his BBQ sauce on baked beans and it was intriguing enough to try – Apple Cinnamon Baked Beans?  Why not?  Ole Ray definitely got this right.  He even told us how to make them – buy Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans, drain the sauce off them (don’t rinse, just drain) and add as much of Ole Ray’s Apple Cinnamon BBQ Sauce as you like.  They sell this at the North Market and other various places for $5/bottle, so it’s a little pricy for everyday use.  Everytime I’ve made these for a cookout, people LOVE them.

I wanted to try my hand at making homemade baked beans and I found this recipe on A Year of Slow Cooking, but I made some adaptations.  The beans in the linked recipe got a little too dry, so I’d suggest increasing the “sauce” ingredients below and/or adding some bottle bbq sauce at the end (which takes away from the homemade idea, I suppose).  But anyway, I loved these and they were so easy and made plenty.  I don’t know what “we” did with the bacon after cooking.  Throw it out or you could probably cut it in pieces and stir it in, though I’m not sure how cooked it got and I like my bacon crispy.  Lo turned these off when he got home with work and I never asked him what he did with the bacon (he likes bacon a lot, so consumption is likely).  These were pretty sweet, so if you don’t love very sweet beans, cut down on the brown sugar a little.  Actually, if you’re totally unsure of how the sauce will turn out, you’re better off pre-mixing all of the sauce ingredients (br. sugar, molasses, ketchup, hot sauce, salt, mustard, and pepper) and adding ingredients to taste.  Not everyone is going to like the same sauce, so what worked for me may be hated by you.  Since we used the original recipe and there wasn’t enough sauce, we had to add some bottled BBQ after cooking – just whatever we had in the fridge at that time.

Wow, that was an incredibly long introduction to a very easy recipe – enjoy!

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

serves 8-10
adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking (which is an awesome blog)

3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cans kidney, 1 can pinto, like I did)
2 medium onions, chopped finely, or 2 T dried minced onion
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
squirt of sriracha or hot sauce, as much as you prefer or some red pepper flakes, optional
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried mustard – I was out so I used a squirt of dijon
1/2 tsp black pepper
A couple of slices of bacon or chicken sausages (I used bacon, but am excited to use chicken sausages next time since I loved the baked beans with chicken)

Drain and rinse beans, and add them to a medium size crockpot (or whatever they will fit in). Add onion and brown sugar. Pour in the molasses, ketchup, and hot sauce, if using. Add spices and stir to combine. Lay slices of uncooked bacon on top of the beans, or slice chicken sausage and lay it over the top. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or high for about 4.

*If using bottled bbq sauce, check for gluten if you’re GF.

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