To me, baked beans are an essential addition to summer time meals. I can't imagine a great cookout without them, can you? They are the perfect side dish with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, BBQ, pork chops, filet mignon...ok, so maybe I'm getting a little carried away. But you get my point. BAKED BEANS ARE AWESOME. And our Smoked Baked Beans are no exception.
Suppose we should have called them Smoked Beans???
Our Smoked Baked Beans are OMG. (Oh My Good.)
One weekend we decided to smoke baby back ribs. (I am a self-proclaimed rib connoisseur. And yes, I had to google that spelling.)
I was not about to be stuck inside in the kitchen with baking beans. So I said "Self, this smoker is hot. Probably hot enough to cook these beans through and get them all warm and bubbly, sticky and sweet, and full of smoky flavor."
Self was 100% correct.
We carted our ingredients outside, and enjoyed our afternoon out on the deck. Great time to enjoy a tasty adult beverage? Why yes, it was. (Have you tried our delicious and refreshing Mojitos?)
Our trusty fave skillet Lucille was brought out for this recipe.
We cooked our peppers and onions first to give them a great texture and fried flavor. Caramelized onions have the best smell, don't they? So good.
We used our favorite brand of baked beans, from a Tennessee-based company: Bush's Baked Beans .
Their original flavor is a great base for our recipe.
We drained the beans (but do not rinse them.)
Then we added our own "little of this, little of that". That is the fun part. Adding spices and flavors to give your baked beans the perfect homemade flavor.
Family secret from our Uncle Dennis: add a little sweet pickle relish to your baked beans.
So good, the sweet flavor just cooks right into the beans, plus it adds more color to the dish. (Thanks for that tip, Uncle D!)
We used our own sweet squash and pickle recipe (we will post it one of these days).
And no self-respecting skillet of beans would be complete without bacon.
If this recipe is calling your name, you have to try these:
My advice on using bacon in this type of dish: get it really crispy FIRST. If you put it in raw, ugh. If you put it in cooked normally, that's good for flavor but the texture changes when it sits in the bean sauce. However, nice, crispy fried bacon will soften just a little, and have the perfect bite after simmering in the baked beans for a few hours.
Our smoked baked beans were on the smoker for about 2 hours, until the excess liquid had evaporated and they were heated and bubbly. You can give them a stir occasionally, but as long as your smoker stays under 300 degrees, they should not burn.
Plus you will be smoking these baked beans alongside ribs or chicken or something else fantastic, so you will be able to keep an eye on them.
Talk about amazing smoky flavor. These are not your ordinary baked beans. And yes, I ate this plate of beans.
Smoked Baked Beans
- 2 28 oz cans Bush's original baked beans drained
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 small onion peeled and chopped
- ½ lb hickory smoked bacon chopped
- 2 TB reserved bacon grease
- ¼ cup BBQ sauce your favorite kind
- ¼ cup brown sugar light or dark
- 2 TB sweet pickle relish
- 1 ½ TB yellow mustard
- ½ tsp black pepper
- In a large cast iron skillet, cook bacon pieces over a grill or stove until crispy. Drain on paper towels or newspaper. Set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- In the same pan, saute peppers and onions until they are tender and the onions are caramelized.
- Pour the drained baked beans into the skillet, and add the bacon, bbq sauce, brown sugar, pickle relish, mustard and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Place pan in the smoker, and slow cook for several hours until excess liquid is evaporated, beans are bubbly and cooked through. The longer they are on the smoker, the stronger the smoked flavor will be. We smoked our beans for 2 hours on a smoker around 250 degrees.