Smoked Baked Beans are next level beans, begging to be invited to every BBQ, backyard grill-out or other summer get together. They are the perfect guest, they won’t come empty handed, instead bringing the right amount of smokiness and sweetness to the party. You won’t have to worry about cleaning up after them, as there won’t be any leftovers!
Smoked ham broth provides the smoke, maple syrup the sweetness and 3 different varieties of beans combine with onion, and tomato sauce to complete this dish. This recipe uses the ham bone, trimmings and juices leftover from Double Smoked Ham, but read on and see how to make this dish without these ingredients.
I used three different varieties of beans to make Smoked Baked Beans and in different forms. The recipe guides you as to when each type of bean is added, and how all the ingredients come together to make these delicious Beans.
- Ham bone: from a pork or ham butt/ shank. Leftover ham bone from a smoked ham is ideal.
- Ham juices: saved from the roasting, or smoking of a ham shank / butt, along with fat trimmings.
- Beans: I used dried pinto, frozen red and canned kidney beans.
- Onion: fresh.
- Tomato sauce.
- Maple syrup: I used Bourbon flavored maple syrup.
- Garlic powder.
Today’s Baked Beans are Beans that have been stewed in a sauce either on a stove top, slow cooker or in the oven. Stove top cooking of the Beans is the preferred method by most, as oven baked beans take around 2-3 hours in a low temperature oven.
This recipe for Smoked Baked Beans plays out over 2 days. The first day, the smoked ham stock is made, along with any dried beans that need to be soaked. Follow steps 1 and 2. The second day finish the recipe by continuing on with steps 3 – 13.
1) Add the ham bone, juices and trimmings to water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours. Pour the stock through a sieve into a container, a large mason jar is a good choice. Place this stock into the refrigerator once it has cooled. Strip any meat off the bone, finely chop it and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
2) If you are using dried beans, rinse them under cold water and soak them in a pot of cold water with enough salt to make the water pleasantly salty. Refrigerate the beans and do not exceed 24 hours of soaking. The following day, pour off the soaking water.
3) Peel and chop the onion finely.
4) Remove the disc of fat on top of the ham stock and place it in a pot. Melt it over a medium heat and when hot (test it with a small piece of onion and when it sizzles it is hot), add the chopped onions and sauté.
5) When the onions are golden brown, add the ham stock.
6) Then add the soaked beans. Cook them in the broth until tender, check them after 1 hour. It depends on the type of beans used. I used pinto beans and they took about 90 minutes to be tender.
7) As the beans are cooking, add the garlic powder.
8) Add the tomato sauce.
9) Add the maple syrup.
10) Stir well and continue cooking the beans with the lid off. This will help reduce (water evaporates) the liquid and make the sauce thicker.
11) After reducing the liquid, the sauce will get browner, due to the sugar in the sauce caramelizing. Add the frozen beans (already cooked) once the dried beans are tender.
12) Add any canned beans you are using.
13) Add the chopped ham meat. Stir well, bring to a gentle boil and serve immediately.
Serve hot, as a main course or a side dish.
Flexibility with Ingredients
This recipe has so much flexibility with regard to its ingredients. I’ll cover the ham stock first.
Use the bone from any type of smoked ham hock, or ham shank. If you refer to Split Pea and Ham Soup you’ll see one option for creating ham stock. Purchase ham base bouillon if you don’t want to make your own stock.
Add some sweet and smoked paprika to the stock and a little brown sugar. That will bring it closer in flavor and color to the stock I produced from using the ham bone, juices and fat trimmings from my Double Smoked Ham recipe.
Use butter to fry the onions if a homemade ham stock has not been produced in step 4.
In step 13, consider adding chopped ham or bacon bits if you used a ham base bouillon.
This recipe lends itself to using many different types of legumes (also known as pulses). The beans I recommend the most for this recipe are black, kidney, navy, pinto, lima, cannellini, fava, and red. Do not use chick peas, edamame, soy, lentils, or mung beans. I used kidney, red and pinto beans. You can use one or several types of beans.
Use dried, canned and frozen beans. I used beans in all 3 forms in this recipe.
The pinto beans were dried and had to be reconstituted. Step 2 advices how to do this. If using dried beans, refer to the soaking instructions on the packet and follow them. Once they have been reconstituted, they need to be cooked. Step 6 shows when to add these beans.
The red beans used were frozen. I had previously cooked them and froze some leftovers. These beans were not quite defrosted, so they were added at Step 11, once the pinto beans were tender and a few minutes before the kidney beans were added. This gave the red beans an opportunity to heat through.
Finally, the kidney beans were added. Being canned, they were fully cooked.
Substitute the onion with 2 tbsps of onion powder. Omit Steps 3 and 4 and continue onto to Step 5 by adding ham stock to a pot.
Garlic powder can be substituted for fresh garlic, use about 8 cloves, finely grate them. Add them at the end of Step 4 to sauté.
Replace maple syrup with honey or date syrup. I used Bourbon Maple Syrup, the same syrup I used in the recipe for Granola Butter.
Tomato sauce substitutions include tomato puree, tomato paste and marinara sauce. Use 3-4 oz of tomato paste.
To Soak or Not to Soak?
Should dried beans be soaked? The good folks over at Bon Appetit recommend soaking beans overnight in the refrigerator as it reduces cooking time, produces the best texture and has less beans burst or split open. Beans can be quick soaked, check the directions on the outside packaging to see how to do this.
It is also hard to know the age of the beans you buy at the store. A ‘Best Buy’ date might be printed on the package but that does not reveal anything about how old they are. Soaking beans overnight helps soften even the oldest, driest beans you might have buried in the depths of your pantry.
Our good friends over at the Bean Institute not only recommend soaking beans but also changing the water a few times during soaking. This helps reduce the amount of flatulence – there – I said it!
Conclusion? Soak your beans.
Uses for Smoked Baked Beans
In America, Baked Beans are served typically as a side dish for any type of summer get together. As they are easily transported in a crock pot, they are a popular potluck offering. Pack them for a hike or a picnic too.
Besides being a side dish, I want to propose Beans, especially Smoked Baked Beans as being a main course or an entree. For years, the UK and Ireland have been serving Baked Beans as a lunch and dinner entree, typically on toast and sometimes with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top. Packed full of protein, fiber and iron, these inexpensive legumes pack a nutritious punch.
Store Smoked Baked Beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat at a high temperature to melt the solid fat used in the recipe.
Freeze the Beans in a freezer bag, removing all the air. Freeze them for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
A Tip From Me
Don’t think of Beans as being a side dish only. Serve these Smoked Baked Beans as a filling for a baked potato or on top of a hot dog. Be creative, by using different varieties of beans, the end result will be a colorful dish with varying flavors and textures.
I’ve got answers – hopefully!
- This recipe is for Smoked Baked Beans, yet the Beans are not baked why? Years ago Beans were parboiled and then oven baked. Over the years Beans began to be cooked completely on the stove top with a sauce added during cooking. The end result was a quicker cooking method, resulting in the same texture and flavor of the Beans.
- Why not just buy Baked Beans? Canned varieties are convenient but often high in added sugars, salt, additives, and BPA contaminants. Your healthiest option is to make them from scratch using dried Beans.
- I found the Baked Beans to be too sweet using the ham bone and juices from your Double Smoked Ham recipe. How do I fix the sweetness level? Add Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce or even a teaspoon or more of white or apple cider vinegar to help balance out the sweetness.
- The ham stock is too salty for my taste. Won’t that make the Smoked Baked Beans too salty also? Yes, fix the ham stock first by adding a little potato, either grate in some fresh (peeled) potato or some instant dried flakes to correct the sodium level. Once the ham stock has reached an acceptable level of saltiness, then proceed to use it for this recipe for Smoked Baked Beans.
Smoked Baked Beans
- 6 oz frozen pre cooked beans (I used red beans)
- 4 oz dried beans (I used pinto beans)
- 15 oz canned beans (I used kidney beans)
- 7 oz tomato sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 onion
- 2 pints smoked ham bone
- Add the ham bone, juices and trimmings to 2.5 pints of water and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 2 hours. Pour the stock through a sieve into a container, a large mason jar is a good choice. Place this stock into the refrigerator once it has cooled. Strip any meat off the bone, finely chop it and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Rinse the dried beans under cold water and soak them in a pot of cold water with enough salt to make the water pleasantly salty. Refrigerate the beans and do not exceed 24 hours of soaking. The following day, pour off the soaking water.
- Peel and chop the onion finely.
- Remove the disc of fat on top of the ham stock and place it in a pot. Melt it over a medium heat and when hot (test it with a small piece of onion and when it sizzles it is hot), add the chopped onions and sauté.
- When the onions are golden brown, add the ham stock.
- Then add the soaked beans. Cook them in the broth until tender, check them after 1 hour.
- As the beans are cooking, add the garlic powder, tomato sauce and maple syrup.
- Stir well and continue cooking the beans with the lid off. This will help reduce (water evaporates) the liquid and make the sauce thicker.
- After reducing the liquid, the sauce will get browner, due to the sugar in the sauce caramelizing. Add the frozen beans once the dried beans are tender.
- Add canned beans, chopped ham meat and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and serve immediately.