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How to make canned baked beans taste homemade

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.

a skillet of baked beans with bacon slices on top

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.

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    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.

    A skillet of baked beans with dollops of mustard, ketchup and brown sugar before being stirred together

    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 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 cooke 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.

    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:

    a skillet of baked beans with bacon slices on top

    How to make canned baked beans taste homemade

    Canned baked beans get a flavor boost and taste a little more like homemade with these simple ingredients. Is it still cheating even if it tastes good? Never! 
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 25 minutes
    Servings 4 people
    Author Rachel Ballard


    • 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. 


    Calories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 223mgPotassium: 68mgSugar: 10gVitamin A: 40IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.2mg
    Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American
    Keyword canned baked beans

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    1. Dice and cook one pound of bacon. Remove the cooked bacon, sweat one diced onion in the same pan (cook on low). Add the beans to the onions, slowly, I use 3 different can of Bush’s. Cook slowly to incorporate the caramelized bacon that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the cooked bacon – that’s it family loves it!

    2. 5 stars
      Just heated original Bush’s beans with white rice on the stove. Squirted in some ketchup, mustard and sprinkled brown sugar, salt and pepper. Perfect way to liven things up!

    3. 5 stars
      I use two big cans of different flavors of Bush’s baked beans, and then added mustard, brown sugar, ketchup and barbecue sauce. Just heated it. Added crumbled up cooked bacon that was left over.
      Just delicious.

    4. 5 stars
      I’ve built a reputation in my community as a very good cook. Unfortunately I had just a few hours notice of a potluck cookout pool party; and with no time to make my bean recipe from scratch I turned to the net. This recipe allowed me to maintain my status and my friends raved about how good they were. I even heard, “I don’t normally eat beans but these..”. They went back for more. That’s the truth. I did make a few minor adjustments since I used a 117 once can of beans. I cut the brown sugar in half. Still sweet but I wanted more savory for this occasion. This being south Texas bacon isn’t optional. I added a full pound of bacon, ground black pepper to taste and a couple tablespoons of red pepper and vinegar based hot sauce for a more savory Texas BBQ style. Thanks for the lay up with a great recipe that uses ingredients that we all readily have on hand.

    5. 5 stars
      I made these for a cookout with friends a couple weeks ago and everyone loved them! Now getting ready to make a big pan of them for a cookout with around 250 people! Thanks so much for a quick, simple recipe that everyone loves!

      1. Diane that depends on the size of the can and how large you want the serving to be–plus the number of other items being served. If you are only making beans and one other side, you’ll need to assume people will take more. If you will have 4 or 5 side dishes they will eat less beans. I plan 1/2 cup per person typically (there will be some who don’t take any and some who take 3 times what they should) and that seems to work out so you’ll just have to do the math. –Rachel

    6. 5 stars
      So darn good! Nobody at my backyard barbecue could tell that they came from a can. I used Bush’s vegetarian beans and cooked them on my stovetop.

    7. 5 stars
      I made these exactly as you said, but used 2-16 ounce cans of Bush’s vegetarian beans. I cooked them on my pellet grill for 3 hours along with the brisket I was smoking, until the bacon was done. The beans were amazing!

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