Southern style Homemade Baked Beans with Bacon in a thick, rich, glossy sauce with a perfect balance of sweet and a hint of tang. An essential side for a blow out BBQ or Southern feast – think pulled pork, barbecue chicken, sticky ribs, Fried Chicken, sweet juicy corn, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad and cornbread. Swoooooon!!
Southern Baked Beans
Southern Baked Beans are like the bolder, brasher big sister of our Aussie baked beans. Whereas our beans are known as a breakfast staple, with its translucent, shiny tomato sauce, the Southern version is a a side dish that’s packed with big, bold southern flavours.
The sauce is glossy, it’s sweet, it’s savoury, and even though it’s “just” a side dish, no one could overlook it on a table laden with food!
What goes in Southern Baked Beans
You’ll find a lot of recipes are based around store bought canned baked beans – sauce and all. I really just prefer making it from scratch – you can control the flavour yourself, you know what goes in it, and all that usual jazz.
So here’s what you need to make these Southern Baked Beans.
Just a note on a few of the ingredients:
- Beans – I usually make this with red kidney beans, just something I picked up from Ina Garten’s baked beans recipe. Flavour wise it doesn’t really make a difference what beans you use because the sauce flavour is so strong. So feel free to use navy beans (haricot) which is the more common type of beans used in Southern Baked Beans, pinto, cannellini or any other small to medium beans of choice;
- Molasses – adds colour, gloss and flavour. Easy substitute: golden syrup!
- Tomato passata – this is just plain, pure, pureed tomato. If you’re in the US, it’s sometimes labelled “tomato puree” instead. More information on tomato passata here.
How to make baked beans
It’s probably thoroughly not in the spirit of baked beans to NOT bake it! But it starts on the stove with the browning of the bacon, so I just find it easier to leave it on the stove.
But you can bake it if you prefer! It can also be slow cooked – directions included in the recipe.
I know baked beans are traditionally served as a side in the states, but in all honesty, the sauce of this Homemade Baked Beans with Bacon is so good, with such much kapow flavours, I’m happy to slurp it up just like this: in a big bowl with some corn bread to slop up all that sauce. (Try the muffin version too, they’re fabulous!)
Or even as breakfast. I promise there is a couple of pieces of (burnt) toast under that very generous serving of baked beans!
Big Barbecue Feast!
And of course, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t suggest a load of dishes for a big barbecue feast. Here are some barbecue favourites that demand a side of baked beans!!
I know I keep going on and on about giant BBQ feasts, but of course baked beans are a brilliant side dish for normal meals too. It will keep in the fridge for days, so you can keep bringing it out over and over again… who can get sick of these baked beans?? – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Homemade Baked Beans with Bacon (Southern)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 150g/ 5 oz bacon , chopped
- 1 medium onion , finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced (or 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste)
- 3 x 400g / 14oz cans red kidney or other beans, drained and rinsed (Note 1)
- 3/4 cup ketchup (Note 2)
- 3/4 cup tomato passata / US tomato puree (Note 3)
- 1/4 cup molasses (Note 4)
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tsp mustard powder (or 1 tbsp Dijon or American mustard)
- 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 tsp EACH salt & pepper , plus more to taste
Heat oil over high heat (can skip oil if bacon is super fatty). Add bacon and cook for 2 minutes.
Add onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until onion and bacon are golden.
Add remaining ingredients. Stir, bring to simmer, then place lid on.
Then either turn down heat to medium low (simmering gently) and cook on the stove for 1 hour, stirring every now and then so the bottom doesn’t catch. OR bake at 160°C/325°F for 60 minutes.
SLOW COOKER option: Reduce water to 1/4 cup, transfer to slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low.
The sauce should be thickened (cook with lid off for a bit if not thick enough) and glossy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste at the end. See notes for serving suggestions!
DRIED BEANS (red kidney beans, navy/haricot, cannellini or other white beans) – you will need 2 cups of dried beans:
- 1 can = 1 3/4 cups beans once drained
- Recipe calls for 3 cans = 5 1/4 cups beans
- 1 cup dried beans = 2 3/4 cups cooked
- So you will need 2 cups dried beans (2 x 2.75 = 5 1/2 cups cooked beans)
Cover with plenty of water and bring to boil for 1 minute. Then remove from stove and cover, set aside for 1 hour. Then cook for 1 hour simmering on medium heat, drain then use per recipe.
2. Ketchup – If you are in Australia/NZ or Europe, you can use what we know as Tomato Sauce. If you are in America, please don’t use what you know as tomato sauce!
3. Tomato passata – If you can’t find tomato passata, either puree canned tomato OR use crushed tomato + 1 tbsp tomato paste.
4. Molasses – If you can’t find molasses, this can be substituted with treacle or golden syrup. Or even maple syrup. Or use 1/3 cup brown sugar.
5. To serve: Traditionally served as a side dish for Southern meals and barbecue feasts – see in post for a list of dishes to make up a menu. However, I like to have it at any time of the day, even plain in a bowl with bread to slop it up!
6. FREEZING: Freezes brilliantly! Cool then back in ziplock bags or airtight containers. Reheat from frozen in the microwave, or thaw then reheat on the stove or microwave.
7. Nutrition assuming 12 servings as a side.
Originally published June 2017, updated June 2020 with fresh new photos, brand new video!
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Life of Dozer
In case you missed the Life of Dozer video on Monday – Dozer’s analysis of deconstructed Gado Gado at a glance:
And Life of Dozer from the original publication date:
First sunrise back in Sydney with Mr D after arriving home from my trip to Japan. Even though his boarder reported no signs of separation anxiety or even a fleeting moment of forlornness that would indicate that he missed me in the slightest (), I was greeted with sufficient enthusiasm to think otherwise!