My baked beans with ground beef recipe is deliciously sweet and smoky, loaded with tender navy beans and browned hamburger. This is a perfect side dish for a party, family gathering, potluck, or picnic. Heck, the addition of ground beef makes it hearty enough to serve as a main dish too. Best of all, this easy recipe requires only simple ingredients!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Canned navy beans - Other beans, such as Great Northern Beans, Pinto beans, Butter beans, or Kidney beans can be substituted. Stay away from black beans, as they have a completely different flavor and texture.
- Ground beef - Avoid beef that is too fatty. 85/15 lean ground beef would be my ideal choice, but 80/20 and 90/10 will also work.
- Sweet onion - Vadallia onions are best. Yellow onion can be substituted.
- Red pepper - You can substitute green peppers, or even a poblano pepper for a little heat.
- Brown sugar - Dark brown sugar is best for this dish, but light brown sugar will also work.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Dijon mustard - Spicy brown mustard would be an excellent substitution.
- Liquid smoke - You could also add bacon strips to fortify the smoky flavor. These can be chopped up and mixed in, or layered on top of the beans when baking.
- Salt and black pepper
Tip: The combination of molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke is essentially making your own homemade barbecue sauce.
Thoughts on Canned Beans vs Dry Beans
This easy baked beans with ground beef recipe calls for canned beans for simplicity. I understand people often just want to get food prepared without wasting a whole afternoon cooking. However, this hearty side dish can be made with dry beans as well if you prefer to make the best baked beans with a little extra effort, such as I use in my homemade baked beans from scratch recipe.
If you wish to use dry beans, buy a 16 ounce bag, rather than using the 56 ounces of canned beans. You will need to make up the difference in liquid by adding water. Using just enough water to cover the beans in the pot will suffice. Soak the beans overnight then simmer the beans on the stovetop for at least an hour, or until tender. This water should be discarded and replaced with fresh water when you continue with the baked beans recipe.
How to Make it
Begin making your homemade baked beans by adding the hamburger meat, onion, and peppers in a pot set over medium high heat. Cook ground beef until it is well browned, and onions and peppers are tender. Crumble the beef with a wooden spoon into small pieces as it cooks. For the best flavor, be sure to properly brown your ground beef.
Add all of your remaining ingredients to the pot with the cooked ground beef. This includes the tender beans, with their liquid, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine well.
Set your oven to 400 degrees and place the bean mixture in the oven, leaving it uncovered. Let the beans bake for 45 minutes. This thickens the liquid and helps meld the flavors together. Remove from the oven and serve in individual portions.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! Baked beans are a great recipe to make in advance because the flavors continue to meld as the dish rests in the refrigerator. Your hearty baked beans can be reheated in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. Just be sure to store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator to protect the flavor.
If you make these beans in advance you can also transfer them to a slow cooker to keep warm. It is best to use the "Keep Warm" setting on your crock pot, but low heat will also work if your slow cooker doesn't have that feature.
More Homemade Baked Beans Recipes
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Baked Beans with Ground Beef
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Brown ground beef in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat with onions and peppers. Break the beef up into crumbles as it cooks, and cook until beef is well browned and onions and peppers are tender.
- Add beans, along with the liquid, to the pot. Then add molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, salt, and black pepper. Stir everything together well to combine.
- Set your pot of beans in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove from the oven and serve.