Ultimate Smoky Barbecue Beans

Ultimate BBQ Beans Recipe - Smoky, Sweet & Delicious

Discover the perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and smoky flavors in this show-stopping barbecue beans recipe. These tender, creamy beans are infused with a rich, complex barbecue essence that will have your guests begging for seconds!

Barbecue beans are a staple at any cookout, but most recipes fall short of true greatness. After years of experimenting, I’ve crafted the ultimate barbecue bean recipe that combines the best elements of quick-cooking convenience and slow-cooked depth. The result? A pot of beans that will make your taste buds dance with joy!

This recipe takes inspiration from barbecue legends like Alton Brown and Mike Mills, but elevates their techniques to create something truly spectacular. By using a blend of dried beans and infusing them with a carefully crafted sauce, we achieve a perfect harmony of textures and flavors that will leave you craving more.

The Secret to Sensational Barbecue Beans

The magic of these beans lies in the careful balance of ingredients and cooking methods. We start with a trio of dried beans – great northern, pinto, and small red beans – to create a delightful variety of textures. These beans are then lovingly simmered in a sauce that’s bursting with classic barbecue flavors.

Crispy bacon provides a smoky foundation, while sautéed onions, peppers, and garlic add depth and complexity. The sauce is a mouthwatering blend of ketchup, brown sugar, honey, molasses, and tangy vinegar, with just the right kick of heat from jalapeños and hot sauce. A long, slow cook in the oven allows all these flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in beans that are truly unforgettable.

Perfect for Any Occasion

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, planning a potluck, or simply craving some comfort food, these barbecue beans are guaranteed to impress. They’re hearty enough to serve as a main dish for vegetarians (just omit the bacon) or as the perfect side to complement your favorite grilled meats.

So fire up your oven and get ready to create a batch of the most delicious barbecue beans you’ve ever tasted. Your friends and family will be singing your praises, and you’ll never want to settle for canned beans again!

Ultimate Smoky Barbecue Beans


  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound small dried beans, such as great northern, navy, or pinto beans, picked over and rinsed (see note)
  • 8 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 1/2 cups finely minced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced seeded jalapeño (about 1 medium pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon barbecue rub
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce


  1. Begin by preparing the beans. In a large container, whisk together 2 quarts of water and salt until the salt dissolves completely. Add the beans, cover, and let them soak overnight at room temperature. This step ensures tender, creamy beans. The next day, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.
  2. Time to create the flavor base! Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, but leave as much fat in the Dutch oven as possible – this is liquid gold for flavor!
  3. Now, let’s build those layers of flavor. Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes. This caramelization adds depth to our beans. Stir in the green pepper, jalapeño, and garlic, cooking until fragrant – about 1 minute. Your kitchen should be smelling amazing by now! Add 3 cups of water, chicken stock, reserved bacon, and beans. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 1 hour. While the beans are simmering, preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  4. It’s time for the grand finale – adding our homemade barbecue sauce! Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, honey, molasses, mustard, vinegar, barbecue rub, and hot sauce. This combination creates a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors. Cover the Dutch oven and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let the beans cook for 4 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. After 4 hours, remove the cover and cook until the beans are tender throughout and the sauce has thickened to your liking, about 1 hour longer. The aroma will be irresistible! Once done, remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and your ultimate barbecue beans are ready to serve!


Feel free to experiment with bean varieties! You can use a single type or combine several for a unique texture and flavor profile. Just ensure they’re similar in size for even cooking.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
527 Calories
11g Fat
87g Carbs
24g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 527
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 1151mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 87g 32%
Dietary Fiber 12g 44%
Total Sugars 47g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 22mg 108%
Calcium 162mg 12%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 1378mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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