This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Secret-Ingredient Easy Baked Beans will have family and friends begging for the recipe. All of the flavors of slow-cooked beans, but none of the effort. It’s a semi-homemade version of the classic barbecue side dish, and now I’m sharing it with you. And you don’t have to tell anyone that it starts with canned baked beans! Plus they are gluten free too!
Originally published on Sep 6, 2015
When I was about thirteen, we moved out of the house that we had lived in since I was born. It was touch moving away from our hometown, especially in the middle of winter when there were still only five houses in the neighborhood.
Ultimately, though, we came to love “The Village”, as my sister called it when she was little.
There were only two streets that made a circle, so once all the houses were built and filled, pretty much everyone knew everyone. The kids would roam from house to house finding where and with whom they wanted to play.
Parents would gather on someone’s front porch or back deck to have a glass of wine or a beer and chit chat. And it took at least a half-hour to walk around the very small block because you undoubtedly stopped several times to catch up with someone.
There were community picnics and yard sales, kickball tournaments and even some shenanigans. And of course, neighborhood barbecues. That was where we were first introduced to Laura’s beans.
In fact, that’s how the recipe is labeled in my mom’s little recipe book – “Laura’s Beans”. But honestly, I can’t remember the last time I referred to the recipe. I usually just added in a little of this, some of that.
As I made this easy baked beans recipe more and more, they gradually became known as Brianne’s Beans. Now, they are often requested and rapidly devoured by friends and family alike.
So I finally thought it was time to, you know actually measure the ingredients and share it with the world. It’s your call whether you tell what the secret is…
Semi-Homemade Baked Beans
So the question is, how do you get that cooked-all-day flavor without, you know, cooking all day?
I’ll tell you my secret. Shhhh…
You start with a can of baked beans!
You already have beans that are already soft and tender and have absorbed the seasonings. As a result, you don’t have to deal with the time and labor of cooking dry beans. But then you dump out all the liquid and replace it with something way yummier.
This gives them an even bolder, more intense flavor and a deliciously rich, thick, gooey texture that is just so much better than that liquidy stuff in the can. And it’s barely any more work than dumping canned baked beans in a pot, but totally worth it. It’s a gluten free side dish recipe that’s the hit of every summer cookout!
You just need a few simple pantry ingredients to improved canned baked beans!
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
- Bacon – cooked and crumbled
- Can of baked beans – you can choose your favorite. I usually use Bush’s.
- Spicy brown mustard
- Onion – chopped
- Dry mustard
- Salt and pepper
- And a bit of brown sugar if you want them sweeter
Directions overview – scroll to the recipe card for the full set of instructions
- Cook the bacon until nice and crispy and set aside.
- Drain the liquid off the beans. You can strain it into a measuring cup so you can replace the exact amount with ketchup, but I do give an approximate amount in the recipe.
- Stir the beans together with all of the remaining ingredients.
- Transfer to a ceramic casserole dish or an aluminum pan.
- Cook until heated through.
Brianne’s cooking tips: You can cook them in an aluminum pan if you are bringing them to an event and don’t want to worry about retrieving your dish. And then just throw them on the oven or grill until they are hot.
But my favorite thing to get the best flavor and texture is to bake them in a casserole dish and leave them in a low oven for as long as possible to really let the flavors intensify.
Brianne’s pro tips
- Gluten Free – many brands of canned baked beans are gluten free. I typically use Bush’s Baked Beans, which are gluten free. And since all of the other ingredients are gluten free, you can safely make this recipe for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
- Vegan – Bush’s actually has Vegetarian beans, which is actually what I use most of the time. And there are other brands that have vegan options. If you start with one of those, you can make this recipe vegan. Just leave out the bacon, and if you still want that smoky flavor, add about a quarter teaspoon of liquid smoke.
- Sweet Baked Beans – the residual sweetness from the canned beans and the bit of molasses is enough for my taste, but you can also stir in about a quarter cup of brown sugar if you prefer.
Are baked beans low carb?
Beans themselves are typically not low carb, and many brands of baked beans in a can and homemade recipes add additional brown sugar or molasses. So these are not a low carb recipe.
That being said, this recipe does remove all the liquid, and it only calls for a bit of molasses. For those that like sweeter beans, you can add brown sugar. However, we tend to like less sweet and more mustardy beans, so I usually leave it out.
If you are concerned about the carbohydrate content, you can make low carb baked beans!
Barbecue main dishes to serve
- Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork
- Buffalo Hot Dogs with Bacon and Blue Cheese
- Honey Balsamic Grilled Flat Iron Steak
- Maple Dijon Chicken Foil Packs
- Smoked Ribs
More barbecue side dishes
- Maple Dijon Coleslaw
- No-Mayo Deviled Eggs
- Hawaiian Broccoli Salad
- Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad
- Hawaiian Pineapple Coleslaw
- Gluten Free Cornbread
- Healthy Candy Bar Apple Salad
- Picnic Macaroni Salad (gluten free option)
I hope you’ll leave a comment and give it a FIVE STAR rating or share a review on Pinterest or photo on Instagram!
Tag me @cupcakekalechip and use #cupcakesandkalechips!
Semi-Homemade Baked Beans
- If you have several hours to bake your beans, preheat the oven to 250°F. If you only have thirty minutes to an hour, set it to 350°F. Additionally, you can also cook the beans on the grill.
- Drain all of the liquid from the can of baked beans into a measuring cup. Make note of the amount of liquid and discard. This is the amount of ketchup you will use.
- Place the beans in the large bowl and add ketchup (an equal amount to the quantity of baked beans liquid you discarded, about 3/4 cup), mustard, molasses, salt, dry mustard, pepper, onion, and bacon, and stir to combine.
- Transfer to a ceramic casserole dish (or disposable aluminum pan for cooking on the grill or bringing to a barbecue where you may not get your dish back), and bake for at least 1-2 hours at 250°F, or at least 30 minutes-1 hour at 350°F or on the grill, until heather through and thick and bubbly. The lower and longer you bake them, the better.