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Southern Baked Beans

These easy Southern baked beans are a comforting, flavorful dish that brings a taste of the South to your table, all in under 30 minutes. Haricot beans are simmered to perfection with rich barbecue sauce, tangy apple cider vinegar, and a blend of spices that give them their signature smoky-sweet flavor. 

an overhead shot of southern baked beans in a casserole pan

I’ve confided to the entire internet before that I cannot stand the typical tinned baked beans available in the UK. However, when it comes to making my own version of beans (something I rely on a lot as a vegetarian!), these Southern baked beans are one of my go to’s.

They’re smoky, ever so slightly sweet, and the perfect versatile side dish that pairs well with a variety of mains.

For more bean-y goodness, try my super popular Mexican pinto beans recipe, these creamy butter beans, and these gorgeous pesto beans.

Ingredient Notes

The exact quantities of the ingredients you need for this recipe are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. 

Here, I’ve added a few notes on the ingredients you need, plus a few potential substitutions you could make if you can’t eat/find a certain ingredient.

southern baked beans ingredients list: onion, dijon mustard, tomato paste and barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, seasonings, haricot beans, brown sugar, garlic, vegetable stock all laid out in bowls

Haricot Beans: Also known as navy beans, these are the classic choice for baked beans. Cannellini or great northern beans can be used as substitutes.

Garlic and Onion: These aromatics build the flavor foundation of the dish. I used white onion, but you could also use red onion! Use fresh minced garlic if you can.~

Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a tangy kick. White vinegar or red wine vinegar can work if needed.

Dijon Mustard: Gives a subtle sharpness. Regular yellow mustard can be used if Dijon is unavailable. If you don’t like mustard then feel free to omit it but you really can’t taste the mustard itself in the beans!

Tomato Paste: Provides depth and richness. Some recipes use ketchup for this type of beans, but that’s an absolute no for me (I cannot stand ketchup!). If you don’t have that issue, feel free to throw in some ketchup!

Barbecue Sauce: A good squeeze of barbecue sauce is a must for giving these beans that smoky, deep flavor.

Dark Brown Sugar: This helps to add just a touch of sweetness and molasses notes. You don’t need a lot – just enough to get that slightly caramelized flavor. Light brown sugar can be substituted if necessary.

Vegetable Stock: Feel free to use chicken stock can be used for a non-vegetarian version.

Cornflour: Helps thicken the sauce and give it that glossy texture. Arrowroot or all-purpose flour can be used as alternatives.

Seasonings: Smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper create a balanced, smoky, and slightly spicy profile.

Variations & Substitutions

This recipe is adaptable to suit your preferences and dietary needs. Here are some ideas:

– Increase the cayenne pepper or add some hot sauce for extra heat.

– Stir in some bell peppers, corn, or diced tomatoes for added texture and flavor.

a close up of southern baked beans with a spoon about to scoop some up

How To Make Southern Baked Beans

The exact step-by-step instructions and ingredient quantities will be in the recipe card at the bottom of this page. 

Below is an overview of making this recipe, plus some process shots to help you visualize how this recipe should turn out.

Step 1) Sauté the Aromatics

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the diced onion. Sauté for 8-10 minutes until translucent and soft, then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Step 2) Build the Sauce

Add the tomato paste, barbecue sauce, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and vegetable stock, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 3) Combine and Simmer

Add the drained and rinsed haricot beans to the pan and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Step 4) Thicken the Sauce 

Make a slurry by mixing the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of water and pour it into the beans. Stir well to help the sauce thicken.

Step 5) Adjust and Serve

Taste your beans and adjust the seasonings according to your preference. Serve hot.

Top Tips \ Chef’s Notes

This recipe is also suitable for cooking in the slow cooker. Simply add all your ingredients for the beans to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

I would always recommend that you taste and adjust seasonings as you cook to ensure the perfect balance of flavors to suit your preferences – these types of recipes don’t need to be followed exactly, it’s more about what kind of flavor you want to achieve!

Storage

Store any leftover baked beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of stock if the beans have thickened too much.

You can also freeze any leftover beans in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating within 24 hours.

a large wooden spoonful of southern baked beans, with the remaining pot in the background

How To Serve?

Serve these Southern baked beans as a side dish at barbecues or as part of a comforting weeknight dinner. They also make a great topping for baked potatoes or a hearty filling for a beans and rice bowl.

FAQs

Can I make these beans ahead of time?

Yes, these beans can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving. The flavors often deepen and improve after sitting overnight.

Can I freeze Southern- baked beans?

Absolutely. Let the beans cool completely, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

What type of barbecue sauce should I use?

Use your favorite barbecue sauce for this recipe. Whether you prefer sweet, smoky, or spicy, choose one that matches your taste preferences.

an overhead shot of southern baked beans in a casserole pan

Southern Baked Beans

Yield: 4-6 portions
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These delicious and easy southern-style baked beans are a great way to enjoy beans as a side dish, with a smoky, deep flavor. They’re the perfect comfort food to bring a taste of Southern cooking to your beans and can be simmered in the background while you focus on other components of your meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 400g tinned haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat your oil in a large pan, and then add the onion. Saute for 8 - 10 minutes until translucent and soft, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add in the tomato paste, barbecue sauce, sugar, and seasonings, then add the apple cider vinegar and stock. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Tip in the haricot (navy) beans and simmer for another 15 minutes. Finally, make a slurry by mixing the cornflour with 1 tbsp water and pour it into the beans, giving it a good stir to help the sauce to thicken.
  4. Taste your beans and adjust the seasonings according to your own preferences.

Notes

This recipe is also suitable for cooking in the slow cooker. Just add all your ingredients for the beans to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

I would always recommend that you taste and adjust seasonings as you cook to ensure the perfect balance of flavors to suit your preferences - these types of recipes don’t need to be followed exactly, it’s more about what kind of flavor you want to achieve!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1287mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 7gSugar: 26gProtein: 8g

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