The Secret to Making Canned Baked Beans Taste Homemade



Chili sauce of your choosing

Ginger (freshly grated or dried)

A squeeze of fresh citrus

Maple syrup

A dash of nutmeg (freshly grated or dried)

Peach or blueberry preserves

A dab of tomato paste

White miso paste

A splash of root beer

Your favorite BBQ sauce

A handful of chopped meat from your smoked Boston butt


Method 1: A Simple Shortcut to Homemade Flavor

Break out a big cast-iron skillet. Place 3 strips of bacon in it (preferably thick-cut) and plop it over medium heat on the stove. Cook the bacon until crisp, flipping as necessary, and then remove the strips to hang out on a few paper towels and drain off some of the fat from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon.

Now, you want to have some diced onion (about ⅓ to ½ cup of it)—yellow, vidalia, whatever you have on hand is fine—ready in the wings, along with 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. If you're really getting into it, chop up some bell pepper too. Add the onion (and bell pepper if you're feeling it) to your bacon drippings in the pan and saute until translucent and fragrant; next, add in your garlic as well as a few sprigs of fresh thyme and saute for another minute or so.

Once everything is softened and smelling great, pour in both cans of baked beans. Finally, stir in 2 tablespoons of light or dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper. And don’t forget your bacon; crumble it right into the beans. Cook this mixture, stirring, until everything is thick and warmed through. If you want to literally bake the baked beans, rather than heating them on the stovetop, I admire your dedication to authenticity and you can pop your skillet into a preheated 375° oven and bake them until the cows come home. Or until they’re warm and bubbly (about 15 minutes). Your call. Fish out the thyme sprigs before serving if you feel so inclined.

Let’s do this, quick and dirty. You’re going to essentially follow method one, but skip the part about cooking bacon, chopping up fresh onion and garlic, and sauteing the aromatics in your bacon drippings. You just go ahead and heat your beans, stirring in the sugar, the condiments, and the pepper, plus a quick hit of onion powder. Badda bing, badda boom, you’re ready to party.


Note: If you have a smidge more time than “none” on your hands, take this method and give it a small upgrade by laying 3 strips of bacon over the top of your flavor-enhanced beans in the skillet. Then pop them into a 375° oven and cook 15 to 20 minutes.