This tried & true recipe comes to us from my Hawaiian Grandpa Clarence’s kitchen. He made truly the best baked beans – everyone who tries them agrees! – so I’m excited to finally share this special recipe here on PWWB.
What sets Grandpa’s recipe apart from the rest is the fact that these baked beans are so substantial & layered with rich, perfectly balanced flavor.
They’re “beefed up” with smoked sausage & bacon, which render into the beans & infuse them with smoky, richness. For best results, use thick-cut bacon. As far as sausage goes, use your favorite smoky-spiced variety. I often use andouille here on the mainland, but if you’re in Hawaii, Portuguese sausage works beautifully too! The very best part, though, is the baked beans sauce. It’s spiked with the littlest bit of red wine vinegar, which adds brightness & cuts through the richness of the meat.
Prep a batch for your next backyard BBQ or summer gathering – I guarantee everyone will ask you for the recipe! ♡ Happy cooking!
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 10–12 ounces smoked sausage of choice (e.g. Polska kielbasa, andouille, Hawaii-style Portuguese sausage, etc.), chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- two 15-ounce cans navy beans, drained
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- ½ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Gather & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List, above.
- Render the bacon: To an oven-safe skillet with a lid such as a cast iron skillet or braiser, add the bacon. Par-cook over medium-high heat, 1-2 minutes per side, until golden & rendered slightly. (The bacon does not need to be crispy at this point – it will continue to cook in the oven with the baked beans). Remove from the skillet & carefully slice into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Optional: Brown the sausage: If using a variety of sausage that is not fully cooked (e.g. Hawaii-style Portuguese sausage), brown the sausage in the rendered bacon drippings. Place the chopped sausage in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is rendered & browned. Remove from the skillet & transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Soften the onions: Carefully remove all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon/sausage drippings from the skillet. Add the onions & season with a good pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened & fragrant.
- Assemble the baked beans with bacon & sausage: Meanwhile, as the onion softens, whisk together the chicken broth, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, & red wine vinegar. Once the onion is softened, add the navy beans & sausage to the skillet. Pour the brown sugar mixture over top, stirring gently to combine well. Arrange the par-cooked bacon over top.
- Bake the beans: Cover the skillet & transfer to the oven. Bake 30 minutes, until the beans are warmed through & bubbling around the edge of the skillet. Carefully remove the lid & bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency. Remove from the oven & allow to cool slightly.
- Serve: Serve these brown sugar baked beans with bacon and sausage alongside any of your favorite summery main dishes, like Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Grilled BBQ Chicken, Pulled Pork, Beer Brats, or even Grilled Hot Dogs. Enjoy!
- Storage & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover baked beans with bacon will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: With a simple adjustment, this baked beans recipe freezes beautifully, too. If planning to freeze, omit the red wine vinegar to preserve the texture of the beans. Transfer the cooled baked beans with bacon to to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions – these are my absolute favorite freezer containers! Freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen baked beans in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave & finish with a splash of red wine vinegar to bring all the flavors back to life.
- Alternate Cooking Methods:
- Make-Ahead Baked Beans with Bacon: This bacon baked beans recipe is very make ahead-friendly, which is great for party or cookout prep. Up to 3 days ahead of time, prepare the recipe according to Steps 1-5, above. Cool completely, then cover & store in the refrigerator. The day you’d like to serve your baked beans, remove them from the refrigerator as the oven preheats. Bake according to Step 6, above, noting that you may need to add 5-10 minutes to the initial bake to ensure the beans are warmed through.
- Slow Cooker Baked Beans with Bacon: This bacon baked beans recipe is also very slow cooker-friendly. Render the bacon & brown the sausage (if needed), according to Steps 3-4, then assemble the baked beans with the onions in your slow cooker according to Step 5 of Recipe Directions, above. Slow cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are as thick & syrupy as desired.