Best BBQ Baked Beans

Best BBQ Baked Beans MarnaMaria Spices

My husband has a love/hate relationship with these beans. Love, because he absolutely loves them, and hate because he is always eating them at inappropriate times, and hears it from me!

Let me explain.

My husband will eat just about anything. He has a few things he doesn't really care for, but at the end of the day, he will eat most anything. He has proved this time and again when his roommate perpetually made Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo. He doesn’t like shrimp at all and it not really a white sauce fan. But he ate it, without fail. It took nine months for Trae to find out he didn’t care for it.

And then there are his loves. Sean loves me, tomatoes, he loves olive oil, he loves vegetables, he loves Korean food, he is very picky about his steak, and then we get to the holy grail of BBQ. Let’s expound on the last two: Steak and BBQ.

A big word for Sean is “excellence”! If he does something, he does it well, and specifically, if he is spending time with steak or BBQ, he takes it to a whole new level. Sean can grill and smoke meat. And not just like, oh yes, I’ll grill the steaks, but to a point where he could enter competitions. All our friends know this, and he is always the designated griller. He can make a perfect steak with such consistency; he is more precise than a sous vide. (A device by the way that he believes should never come in contact with a ribeye due to the fat not rendering, but that is another story for another time.) I am terrible at grilling meat and the sous vide is my best friend, second to Sean and his grill.

And then there is BBQ. Ironically, and by no one’s intention except for it was the only destination in the entire United States that would work, we got married in Austin, Texas. A place with BBQ that is extraordinary.

That is an understatement.


In fact, we got married down the street from the famous, Salt Lick BBQ and had our rehearsal dinner there as well. I think this was one of the few times when Sean was totally zen. He had just graduated, his birthday had just passed, we were getting married, and he was eating BBQ that was perfection with all our loved ones. It was pretty spectacular.

Living in Texas holds some of the best memories for us because their meat is far and away the best you will ever taste, and their BBQ is so good that you have options and can debate which five star Yelp/Google reviewed establishment you like better. Hawaii, on the other hand = no options = good bbq = bad bbq = all bbq. (There is new place opening up in our town. Here’s hoping!)

Before our Texas adventure, if Sean had a dollar for every brisket that did not pass his fork test, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now and I would be sitting on a beach in Greece sipping a regional white wine waiting for my private hydrofoil. Not to say that he is overly demanding, but finding a good brisket is difficult and there are plenty of people making subpar smoked meat and calling it brisket. So by this time, he was already well into his life journey of smoking his own meat; judging others who use ingredients other than salt, pepper, and smoke, and continuing his search for the perfect sides just to make the whole equation complete.

When we first started dating, Sean would tell me about these BBQ Baked Beans his grandmother would make. They were the best. I offered that I also had a pretty good recipe, but upon comparing our ingredients, he was sure his would win out.

BBQ Baked Beans MarnaMaria Spices

Then I made them.

And life changed for Sean.

To this day, the beans cause so many problems. If we have leftovers and I use them in Brunswick stew, I have committed a cardinal sin. If we didn’t make enough to have leftovers, I have committed yet another sin.

If they are in our refrigerator, Sean will eat them. No matter if we are about to go out to dinner with my parents, or if they are for church, or for someone else for that matter. BBQ Baked Beans in our refrigerator have one name on them: Sean. They are for one mouth and one stomach. His.

And you know what, I don’t blame him. They are that good.

I’ve brought them to BBQ’s, cookouts, kid’s birthday parties, and people go nuts. They love them. They are better than any baked beans I have ever tried and between my palate and Sean connoisseurship of BBQ sides, we’ve crossed Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas. Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, just to name a few on our hunt.

Here’s the best part, they are easy to make. People will think you are a genius. Make them this summer, this Memorial Day, this Fourth of July, and they will be your specialty.

Best BBQ Baked Beans

This recipe can be made in advance and reheated later!


10 slices bacon, diced

2 medium onions, diced

1 medium green pepper, diced

28 oz. Van Camp's Pork & Beans

3/4 cups ketchup

1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cups molasses

1 tsp. liquid smoke


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.

  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy. Remove cooked bacon to a plate, leave drippings in saucepan.

  3. To saucepan with bacon drippings, add onion and green pepper and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

  4. Add in remaining ingredients, including reserved bacon, and stir to combine.

  5. Bring to boil, remove from heat and transfer to an ovenproof dish.

  6. Bake, uncovered for 45 minutes until bubbly.

Serves 8