Smoked Baked Beans is the ultimate BBQ side dish! It turns regular canned beans into a sweet and smoky treat with the help of your Traeger wood pellet grill.
With the addition of apricot preserves and flavorful seasonings, these barbecue beans will cause your guests to beg for seconds!
What Are Smoked Baked Beans?
Smoked Baked Beans are a variation of traditional baked beans, the classic recipe that’s deeply rooted in American culinary history.
It’s believed that European settlers brought the original baked beans to America, cooking them in fat and molasses.
In the southern United States, smoking food over a wood fire is a long-held tradition. Thanks to the evolution of cooking technology with equipment such as a pellet smoker, (ad) this recipe has reached a whole new level.
The result? Baked beans infused with intense, smoky flavor!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Rich Smoky Taste: smoking food on a pellet grill provides a rich, complex flavor that’s hard to resist. Slices of bacon added in the cooking process deepens the smokiness even further.
- Delicious Flavors: thanks to the unique blend of sweet apricot preserves, tangy mustard, savory bbq sauce and crispy bacon pieces, this dish has the perfect balance of flavors.
- Versatile: smoked beans are a great partner to a wide variety of dishes, making the ideal side dish for a summer barbecue.
- Easy to Store and Reheat: the leftovers (if there are any!) can be stored and reheated for a quick and flavorful meal.
- Crowd Favorite: baked beans smoked on the grill are a crowd favorite thanks to their thick sauce and rich smoke flavor.
Let's Start the Pellet Grill!
What sets this smoked baked bean recipe apart is the incredible flavor that's infused during the cooking process. It’s a step up from your regular baked beans recipe, making your barbecue game that much better.
What If I Don't Have A Smoker?
You can infuse more flavor by adding a smoker box to your grill, (ad) or stir in a teaspoon of liquid smoke if you're baking beans indoors.
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See quantities and details in recipe card at the bottom of this page.
- pork and beans
- barbecue sauce
- apricot preserves
- minced garlic
- yellow mustard
- steak seasoning
- green onions
- brown sugar
- smoked bacon
How to Make Smoked Baked Beans
Cut bacon into 1 inch slices with kitchen scissors. Fry in a skillet over medium heat on the stovetop until crispy. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
Remove bacon from grease and drain on a paper towel while making beans.
In a large bowl, whisk barbecue sauce, apricot preserves, mustard and brown sugar together.
Add pork and beans (undrained) and stir well.
Top beans with fried bacon and stir slightly.
Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F. Place uncovered pan of beans in the smoker and close lid.
Smoke for 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Increase temperature of smoker to 350 degrees and cook about 30 minutes until sauce is thickened and a light crust forms on top.
This easy recipe is perfect for customizing because there are so many ways to make it your own. Here are some variations to try:
- Use a Variety of Beans: Instead of pork and beans, try kidneys, navy beans, black beans, pintos, or even cannellini beans!
- The Meatier the Better: meat lovers can add chunks of smoked sausage, beef brisket or pulled pork to the mix. Cooked ground beef certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Or, go hog wild and add pork belly to the top of the beans!
- Vegetarian Friendly: if you’re serving this dish to vegetarians, skip the bacon grease and use vegetarian beans. Add chipotle peppers to help the dish retain its complex flavor. Throw in some more veggies like red bell pepper.
- Spice it Up: add plenty of jalapeño peppers, chipotle seasoning, chili powder or cayenne pepper for a spicier twist.
- Add a Punch of Flavor: if you’d like a tangy taste to cut through the richness of the sauce, add a little apple cider vinegar. You can also serve it with some tangy pickles on the side. For those with a sweet tooth, why not switch out the brown sugar for maple syrup?
- Plan Ahead: if you're using dry beans instead of the canned variety, remember to soak them overnight. This helps cook them evenly and absorb the smoke flavor.
- Adjust the Flavors: feel free to add jalapeno peppers if it’s not spicy enough, or another dash of brown sugar to amp up the sweetness.
- Smoke Level: to get a deeper smoky flavor, use hardwood pellets like hickory or mesquite.
- Remember the Toppings: if you’re looking to add a little extra texture and flavor, throw in some pickled red onion!
Fruitwoods like apple and cherry are good options as they give your smoked baked beans a subtle sweetness. Otherwise, hickory and oak provide a stronger smoky flavor without being too overpowering.
The key to better baked beans lies in the balance of flavors and the cooking method. Slow-cooking, especially in a smoker or pellet grill, allows them to soak up the rich smoky flavor and taste of the other ingredients. Adding bacon doesn't hurt either!
It takes about 2 hours to smoke beans at 225 in a Traeger pellet grill. However, to get a crispy crust on top, plan to crank up the heat to 350 degrees for 30 minutes at the end of 2 hours in the smoker.
Storage and Freezing
If you end up with any leftovers (don’t count on it, these are very popular), make sure to fully cool them before storing. They can be stored for 4–5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
To reheat, warm them in a saucepan or skillet and heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thoroughly warm. If the mixture is too thick, try adding a little water to loosen them up.
You can also warm leftovers in an oven or pellet grill at 350 degrees F. until warmed throughout.
These beans also freeze well – so if you want to, you can make a big batch and freeze some for later. After cooling, transfer the beans to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Prior to serving, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as needed.
What to Serve with Smoked Baked Beans
For the meat lovers out there, smoked meatloaf is a hearty companion with its savory, tender meat and slathering of barbecue sauce.
When it comes to side dishes, smoked potatoes with their fluffy insides and crispy skin offer a wonderful contrast.
Finally, for a true taste of the South, deviled eggs are a classic that never fails to impress.
Once you take a bite of Smoked Baked Beans with bacon, you'll never cook pork and beans the same way again!
Smoked Baked Beans
*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.
- 12 slices bacon (cut into 1 inch slices and fried)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Rays)
- ½ cup apricot preserves
- ¼ cup yellow mustard
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 56 ounces pork and beans, any flavor (I used Maple Bacon)
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon steak seasoning
- 4 green onions (diced)
- Cut bacon into 1 inch slices with kitchen scissors. Fry in a skillet over medium heat on the stovetop until crispy. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.12 slices bacon
- Remove bacon from grease with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel while making beans.
- In a large bowl, whisk barbecue sauce, apricot preserves, mustard and brown sugar together.1 cup barbecue sauce, ½ cup apricot preserves, ¼ cup yellow mustard, ¼ cup brown sugar
- Add pork and beans (undrained) and stir well.56 ounces pork and beans, any flavor
- Stir in minced garlic, steak seasoning and diced green onions to beans. Pour contents of bowl into a 13 x 9 inch disposable aluminum pan or large cast iron skillet.½ teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon steak seasoning, 4 green onions
- Top beans with fried bacon and stir slightly.12 slices bacon
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F. Place uncovered pan of beans in the smoker and close lid.
- Smoke for 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Increase temperature of smoker to 350 degrees and cook about 30 minutes until sauce is thickened and a light crust forms on top of beans.
- For best smoke flavor, cook at 225 degrees F for 2 hours, then raise the temp to 350 for 30 minutes to get a golden crust. If you're in a hurry, you can smoke this recipe at 350 degrees for 1 hour, but the beans won't taste as smoky.
- A large cast iron skillet or dutch oven can be used in place of an aluminum pan. However, the pan works great because you can just throw it away after serving!
- Don't have a smoker? Bake this recipe in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour until sauce is thickened, or in a crockpot on low for 4 to 6 hours. Add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke to the mix, or a few chipotle peppers to give you that smoky flavor.
- Feel free to add peppers, onions, jalapeños and cooked ground beef to make Cowboy Beans if desired!
Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.