Smoked bake beans swim in a delectably seasoned sauce loaded with tender beans, chunks of bacon, and a hint of beer. This is the perfect picnic side dish to complement any entree on your grill or smoker.
You will love using your smoker for a delicious twist on this classic recipe. It infuses each spoonful with a rich smoky flavor that penetrates every morsel even more intensely than my grilled baked beans recipe. This is a perfect side dish to serve alongside my red potato salad to finish off any outdoor meal.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Canned navy beans - Navy beans, Great Northern, or Pinto beans are the best beans to use. I would avoid black beans.
- Lager-style beer - An inexpensive classic American lager is all you need.
- Bacon - I like using thick-cut bacon best. However, if you want to substitute, try using leftover pulled pork, brisket, hot dogs, or cottage bacon (which is bacon made from pork butt).
- Sweet onion - Any other onion you have on hand is also fine.
- Jalapenos - Swap out green or red bell pepper for a more mild dish, or serrano peppers to increase the heat.
- BBQ Sauce - Use your favorite molasses-based barbecue sauce. It is the dark and sticky style you see most commonly.
- Brown sugar - To change the flavor, use maple syrup instead.
- Dijon mustard - Brown and Yellow mustard can also be used.
- Paprika - Regular or sweet paprika would be my two top choices.
- Black pepper - Fresh ground is always best, but pre-ground is fine for this recipe.
How to use dry beans
My recipe calls for canned beans because I wanted to stick with simple ingredients. I also like the liquid that comes with canned beans because it is a great thickening agent. However, there is no reason you can't use dry beans instead if you wish, as I use in my traditional baked beans recipe.
To do so, begin by soaking the beans for 6 hours or overnight. Then they need to be simmered in a large pot on your stovetop for an hour with enough water to cover. At this point, the beans are tender and ready to use in this recipe.
How to make it
This recipe starts on the stove. Place your chopped bacon in a large pot. I recommend a Dutch Oven or a cast iron pot that can go in your smoker. Alternatively, you can use a large cast iron skillet if it has tall enough sides.
Set the pot over medium heat to crisp the bacon and render out the fat. The fat is needed to saute the peppers and onions. Once the bacon is almost crisp the peppers and onions can be added as well. These should be sauteed until tender. At this point all of the remaining ingredients can be added to your pot and it is ready to go in the smoker.
Have your smoker preheated to 275 degrees and set your pot on the rack uncovered so it can soak up that delicious smoke flavor. If you are cooking an entree already at a different temperature, don't worry if you can't go to 275. Anything in the range of 225 and up will work.
Smoke the beans for approximately two hours, but you can go longer for an even smokier flavor. However, I find it unnecessary. If the beans are not thickened to your liking you can mash a few of them and then stir the sauce. Repeat this until thickened.
Best wood for smoking beans
Typically, when I smoke baked beans I am doing it as part of a larger meal that includes another smoked entree. I typically use whichever wood is best of the meat I am smoking. However, if I am choosing a wood just for baked beans I would use hickory for an intense flavor or cherry wood to impart a more mild sweetness.
What to do with leftovers?
Leftover smoked baked beans get even better as they sit in the fridge! Honestly, the leftovers are even better than right after they come out of the smoker because the flavors have had time to meld.
Leftover baked beans should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator. Not only is this important because it will prevent the beans from soaking up off-flavors, but it will also prevent your fridge from reeking like smoked beans.
Any leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan until heated through.
Yes, these baked beans can be made in the slow cooker, but they will be desperately lacking any smoke flavor. After cooking the bacon, peppers, and onions, pour everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. I would also add a few dashes of liquid smoke.
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Smoked Baked Beans with Bacon and Beer
- Add chopped bacon to a large pot and set on the stove top over medium heat. When bacon is beginning to crisp add the chopped onions and jalepenos. Saute until tender.
- Add beans, beer, BBQ sauce, and seasonings to the pot and stir to combine.
- Place the pot in a 275 degree smoker uncovered with your preferred wood chips. Smoke for two hours.
- Remove beans from the smoker. If not thickened to your liking mash a few beans with a fork and stir. Repeat as needed until thickened.