It’s not a real barbecue without the beans.

At least that’s what my grandfather would say.

Anytime we wanted to fire up the grill at his lake house, we had to make sure some kind of beans were on the menu, and opening a can and reheating wasn’t an option.

Although I’ve been known to skip the time it takes to cook them right, settling for serving Bush’s best at a picnic, I decided to follow my grandad’s lead over the weekend and start from scratch.

But instead of keeping my eyes on a pot on the stove all day, I pulled out my slow cooker. Not only did I end up with great tasting barbecue beans to serve with brisket and grilled corn, I also woke up to smells that reminded me of childhood days spent fishing with my grandad.


Makes: 12 servings (about ½ cup)

Active time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low

1 large sweet or yellow onion, diced

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons bourbon or low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound dry navy beans or great northern beans, soaked (see note)

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup pure maple syrup or light brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or hot chili powder

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

¾ teaspoon salt

Cook onion and bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the onion is starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the onion is very soft, about 5 minutes more. Stir in bourbon (or 3 tablespoons broth) and cook for 1 minute, scraping up the browned bits. Set aside.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans; transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in 3 cups broth, ketchup, maple syrup (or brown sugar), molasses, dry mustard and chipotle (or chili powder). Spoon the onion-bacon mixture on top of the bean mixture, but don’t stir the two together. (The layer on top helps keep the beans submerged during cooking so they don’t dry out). Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. Stir in vinegar and salt just before serving.

NOTES: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat before serving.

Before using beans in a slow-cooker recipe, soak them to ensure even cooking. Start by sorting beans to remove any pebbles; rinse well with cold water. To soak overnight: Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours. To “quick soak”: Place beans in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Source: Eating Well

M. Clare Haefner enjoys cooking for family and friends. Contact her at

or 254-501-7551.

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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