Do you know how to make canned baked beans taste homemade? It’s one of the easiest adjustments to a store bought side dish you can make and a secret you can keep or share–no one will ever know.
This feels wickedly unfair. Because it’s not really a recipe to me–but I know what the reality is:
I’m not making baked beans from scratch and neither are you.
But we can make those canned baked means taste more like homemade and fool your guests without a lot of fuss. In fact, I do it with only three simple ingredients and a few minutes in the oven.
What you’ll need
I used ketchup, mustard and brown sugar in these canned baked beans–but you could also add a dab of barbecue sauce if you wanted to– and the bacon on the top is totally optional as well. I just think it makes things look and taste like your sneaky side dish never saw the inside of a can.
What’s the best brand of canned baked beans?
I have always been a fan of Bush’s Homestyle baked beans. There are lots of great brands on the market but I seem to get the most compliments on this recipe when I use Bush’s.
Sometimes I’ll even blend a can of Homestyle with one of their “Grillin'” brand beans.
How to cook canned baked beans
That’s simple. You can use any oven proof dish you like and mix your canned baked beans, mustard, ketchup and brown sugar right in there. Then bake until they are hot all the way through and bubbling around the edges.
As they cook the baked beans will thicken and get a little sticky crust around the edges–that makes them look like they’ve had ages in the oven doing their thing.
Can baked beans be cooked on the stove?
You can heat them just in a pot on the stove, but–meh–not as good. You won’t get the slow cooked look or flavor the beans take on when they dry out and caramelize a bit in the oven.
And you can’t add bacon to the top when you cook them stovetop. I think the flavor is still basically the same though, so if you’re pressed for time it will work.
But if you have time, do give them 20 minutes in the oven and it will be worth it.
Do I need to top baked beans with bacon?
The bacon is totally optional. Over the years some readers have expressed a bit of frustration with the fact that the bacon doesn’t really crisp up much while cooking and a lot of the rendered fat ends up in the beans.
If you want to add bacon, you could cook it about halfway first, then put it on top or stir in chopped cooked bacon before baking to prevent a grease slick on top.
How to keep baked beans warm or make them ahead
I don’t think most people mind to eat baked beans that are room temperature. We seem to do a lot of that in the South–but if you want to keep yours really hot, bake them until boiling or really, really bubbling then transfer the whole pan (very carefully!) into an insulated tote.
I have used this Temp-Tations brand insulated tote for decades and food is still hot or cold inside it for 8 hours or longer.
I’ve never found anything that compares.
Your beans don’t have any ingredients that make it risky to leave them out unrefrigerated, so if you want to bake them and then serve them a couple of hours later at room temperature that’s also fine.
How to make great canned baked beans in a slow cooker
This is a perfect slow cooker recipe. Just multiply the recipe as many times as needed to feed your crowd and add everything to your slow cooker. Stir it together and heat everything on low for an hour or two.
You will need at least a double or triple version of this recipe for standard 7-quart slow cooker. Anything less will be too thin and could burn.
Storing leftover baked beans
Leftover baked beans will store in your in an air tight container in your fridge for about a week or so. Just rewarm them stove top or in the microwave.
What to serve with canned baked beans
The sky is the limit here–but grilled food and summer treats should always be on hand when you have baked beans.
That means trying some of these favorites:
- Vinegar bbq chicken
- Tangy broccoli salad
- Homemade lemonade
- Grilled baby back ribs
- Charred Caesar salads
How to make canned baked beans taste homemade
- 1 28 ounce can baked beans I like Bush’s Homestyle
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 slices bacon optional
- Preheat the oven to 375
- In a 9-inch oven proof skillet or 2.5 quart baking dish, mix the beans, brown sugar, mustard and ketchup.
- Top with the bacon slices if you are using it and bake until bubbling around the edges and hot in the center–about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.