When I was growing up, baked beans were a delicious part of all our cook outs and potlucks. Cans of pork and beans were mixed with ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and onions, then baked in the oven. Sometimes strips of bacon were laid on top, creating a smoky aroma and flavor that reminds me of many summers spent playing outdoors all day long and outdoor meals enjoyed with family and friends.
I haven't made baked beans in a long time and this summer I was looking for an excuse to make some. Our neighbors hosted a potluck cookout over the weekend, and I jumped at the chance to try out a slow-cooker variation of my favorite baked beans recipe. This version is made with four kinds of beans, ground beef, and bacon and then slow-cooked for five or six hours. They smelled wonderful as they cooked, and they were a hit at the potluck. The flavor is a little sweet, a little smoky, and a little tangy; a nice combination.
The recipe calls for 8 ounces of bacon, however the brand of bacon I prefer comes in 12 ounce packages, so I used it all because we don't use bacon very often and keeping it on hand just doesn't make sense. What's a little extra bacon in a pot of beans?
This is easy to make gluten free, just heck all of the food labels.
You can also make this in the oven, just read the additional instructions below.
You can also use dry beans instead of canned. Soak and precook ½ cup each navy beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans. Drain and add to the slow cooker.
[Updated July 5, 2013.]
Slow Cooker Four Bean Baked Beans
- 10-inch cast iron skillet
- 4-quart slow cooker
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces bacon (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 16 ounces gluten-free canned pork and beans
- 16 ounces canned black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 16 ounces canned garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
- 16 ounces canned red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup mild to medium chunky salsa
- In the frying pan, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat, mincing as you go. Drain on a paper towel, then add to the slow cooker.
- Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel and add the bacon. Cook over medium-high heat until the bacon fat is rendered. Remove the bacon, drain on a paper towel, then add to the slow cooker.
- Drain the bacon fat, reserving 2 tablespoons in the skillet. Saute the diced onions until soft. Drain the onions and add to the slow cooker.
- Put the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.
- Put the ingredients into a 4-quart glass baking pan and bake in a 350° F/175° C oven for about 45 minutes.