These beans are a serious eat. I know I’ve mentioned before how awesome beans are, but I’ll say it again. Beans (especially the dried version) are high in protein and iron, nutritious, filling, and dirt cheap. Bring on the beans.
Baked beans are a common potluck side, and I usually take an obligatory spoonful. But these are not your picnic canned pork n’ beans. They are not even Bush’s Baked Beans. They are infinitely better, mouth-wateringly delicious slow-cooked beans, perfect for a winter evening.
This slow cooker dish features three varieties of beans. It is completely from scratch; no canned baked beans are called for. Feel free to substitute according to your tastes. It’s filled out with onions, bell peppers, extra-lean ground beef, and bacon, and the sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and smoky flavor.
I’ve honestly never seen beans devoured in such quantities as these smoky beans. They’re so hearty, I like to serve them as a main dish, with plenty of fresh greens or veggies and dip (like this one or this one), and fresh fruit on the side. And no one ever complains when this Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread hits the table.
If you’ve got a potluck or family gathering coming up, beef and bacon smoky beans are a sure crowd-pleaser. The prep for this dish is very simple, and a few hours later you’re set with a slow cooker full of the best baked beans ever. Enjoy some warm, loaded and smoky beans on a chilly winter day!
Have a merry Christmas, everyone. I’ll be back next week with a New Year’s recipe for ya!
- 6 oz bacon, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
- ¾ lb super-lean ground beef (93% lean)
- 1 medium or large onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 12 oz tomato sauce
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 TBS dry mustard
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 TBS liquid smoke
- 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce*
- 5 cups pinto beans, fully cooked, or 3 (15 oz) cans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups kidney beans, fully cooked, or 1 (15 oz) can, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups black beans, fully cooked, or 1 (15 oz) can, rinsed and drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
**If you want the beans to have a lot of sauce, double all of the ingredients listed after the bell peppers**
In a skillet, brown the beef, onions, and bell pepper until the onions are tender and the beef is cooked through. While the beef is browning, whisk together the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce in a large slow cooker. Add the beans, bacon, and contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and serve warm.
Makes approximately 3 ½ quarts.
*You can substitute 2 TBS soy sauce and a pinch of cloves for the Worcestershire sauce if desired.