Slow cooked baked beans – frugal and healthy dinner recipe perfect for busy days.
That bag of beans in the back of the pantry …
You know the one. You bought them because you were going to make … something.
Baked beans. Maybe you were going to bake beans.
But that seems like so very much work.
It’s not, though, especially if you have a slow cooker on hand. And you don’t really need a side dish with beans – add some cornbread or brown bread and you have a filling meal.
I played around with this recipe a bit to show you the kind of variations you can make. This recipe is pork-free, for that friend of mine who won’t eat anything with a face, and gluten-free, because … well, because it’s baked beans and it’s always gluten-free if you make it at home.
Use that standard little bag of beans you find at the grocery store. It’s inexpensive and you’ll be shocked at all the varieties you can choose. For this recipe, use a bag of Great Northern and a half bag of navy beans. Both are common and easy to find.
If you want another kind of beans, go ahead. Baked beans might look rather weird with black beans in them, but they’ll cook the same as the other types. You could use a half cup of six different beans if you wanted to be really adventurous.
Here’s an important tip about making baked beans, though – use whatever meat you want in them. Or leave it out altogether. There are no bean police telling you want meat to use.
The old standard is a meaty ham bone, or ham hocks. If you’re able to get them, trotters traditionally go in the bean pot. But you can use pork-free turkey bacon, too. That’s what I’m using here.
The first step is to soak your beans overnight, then drain and boil them. That’s the hardest part of the whole thing – boiling a pot of beans.
You could also cook them in the pressure cooker. My pressure cooker has a handy button that says ‘beans’ and it takes 40 minutes to make a pot of pintos perfect for refried beans, but to make baked beans, manually turn that number down to 30.
You want baked beans, not refried beans!
You’ll have to cook the bacon, if you’re using that.
Once everything goes into the crock pot, you just wait.
It’s okay – your slow cooker is doing all of the hard work. You’ve heard of people who have two, three or more slow cookers? They really are that useful since you don’t need to sit and babysit dinner during the lengthy cooking time. You just cover and cook without worry.
Once it smells so good that you’re wanting to stand at the counter and taste test, go make some cornbread or biscuits to go with dinner.
Depending on how many people you’re serving, you might get to enjoy this for a couple of days.
With my four hungry children, I double it and there’s enough for my lunch the next day.
- 1 1/2 pounds dried beans (navy, Great Northern, pinto, cattle)
- 1 pound turkey bacon, or regular bacon
- 1 onion
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- mustard powder
- salt and pepper
- Soak beans overnight in plenty of cool water to cover.
- In the morning, drain and rinse the beans, then put them into a stock pot or use a pasta pot, fill it up with water as if you were going to make pasta, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for an hour or more until beans get tender.
- Alternately, cook beans in pressure cooker on bean setting, but reduce time so that they are cooked but not falling apart. They will continue to cook in the slow cooker.
- While the beans are cooking, slice the turkey bacon into strips and crisp it up in a skillet.
- If pork isn’t an problem, feel free to use regular bacon or even leftover ham.
- Dice the onion and add it to the skillet.
- Put meat and onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- When the beans are tender, drain, reserving liquid. Add beans to the slow cooker and stir up with the bacon and onion.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the beans.
- Pour in some of the bean cooking liquid slowly until it reaches the consistency you’d like.
- Taste and adjust the flavourings – it may need more sugar or mustard.
- Let cook on high for about 8 hours.
- Serving Size: 4