Crockpot BBQ Beans

beansI’m not going to lie. There are days when cooking is not an option. While I’ve managed to find ways to spend less than an hour in the kitchen cooking most meals, some days that is not even in the cards. I had a meal planned for today – a pork roast beautifully brined, artfully flavored with a sweet/spicy rub, and cooked low and slow in the oven until it was fork tender before I brushed it with a sweet maple glaze.

The best laid plans, however. We were invited to a barbecue tonight, and Jim has to work. Whenever there’s a barbecue, my friends ask me to bring one thing: my beans. I have to admit, they are pretty darn good and never quite the same way twice because I pretty much dump a bunch of stuff together, stick it in the crockpot, and let it cook all day.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Since I had the roast that needed to be cooked today, I stuck it in one of my crockpots with some barbecue sauce. It is currently becoming pulled pork for Jim’s next few work meals. I like to make my own BBQ sauce. Though I can’t tell you proportions (I dump), when I make BBQ sauce it may contain some (or all) of the following: Muir Glen organic tomato sauce, tomato paste, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, whiskey, chili powder, cayenne, minced garlic, minced onion, vinegar, minced shallot, salt, fresh cracked black pepper, pepper flakes, molasses, brown sugar. Typically, I start with tomato sauce and paste, liquid smoke, garlic, onion, paprika, vinegar, chili powder, whiskey, and molasses or brown sugar in a pot on the stove. Then I start tasting and adding stuff, and I let it simmer and thicken. Usually it comes out pretty well.

Beans for the Barbecue

My beans that are so popular at barbecues don’t actually have a recipe. I learned basic concepts from Etta Kirk, a family friend, and then I started to adapt them. My process is typically pretty similar each time, though proportions vary widely and sometimes I get creative and toss in something extra like a little whiskey or liquid smoke.


  • 1-2 large cans of your favorite commercial baked beans. I like Bush’s country-style.
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb. of ground beef, browned
  • 4-5 slices of bacon, browned and crumbled
  • One sweet onion
  • One each red and green peppers
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded
  • Several cloves of garlic
  • Barbecue sauce (see above) (around 1/2 cup)
  • Dijon or sweet hot mustard (usually a couple tablespoons)
  • Brown sugar or molasses (about 1/4 cup)


  1. In a large crockpot, mix baked beans, kidney beans, ground beef, bacon, barbecue sauce, mustard, and brown sugar or molasses.
  2. Roughly chop vegetables and place them in the bowl of a food processor with garlic. Pulse the processor for several one second pulses until vegetables are finely minced. Add them to the beans and stir well.
  3. Cook in the crockpot on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
  4. The best part about this is you can create it to your taste. Make your own BBQ sauce, or choose your favorite commercially prepared offering. Processing the vegetables and garlic to a nearly pureed state makes them spread their flavor through the beans, giving it a hit of nice heat. You can also put the beans in a foil baking dish, cover them with foil, and cook them on the barbecue for several hours as you cook low and slow meats such as ribs.

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