Apple Butter Bourbon Baked Beans
These Apple butter bourbon baked beans give the classic barbecue side dish a seasonal update. They are sweet, Smokey, savoury, rich in flavour, with a slight hint of heat. A great recipe for baked beans. This recipe is perfect for tailgating, game day and fall potlucks! Although baked beans are typically served at summer bbqs, picnics and cookouts, they are just as good all year round! This apple butter version is just perfect for the fall and makes for a great side - we can’t get enough of them. Hey are good with just about anything - we love them with biscuits and slaw and have them for breakfast with toast and fried eggs too.
What Are Baked Beans?
Baked beans is a side dish made of beans of course cooked low and slow in a sweet and savory sauce. The sauce is often built from animal fat—usually bacon or salt pork—and a sweetener like maple syrup, brown sugar, or molasses, depending on the region and personal preference. And some recipe like this one include BBQ sauce, ketchup, green bell pepper, dry or prepared mustard, and others may include Worcestershire sauce, or liquid smoke. There are many variations out there of baked beans including French cassoulet, English beans on toast, and Mexican frijoles charros just to name a few. I love any kind of bean stews they are so cozy for the cooler months and always so hearty, filling and delicious like my Italian Sausage and Pepper White Bean Stew , White Bean Shakshuka , Gigantes Plaki - Greek-style baked white beans , Caribbean-style stewed pigeon peas, and Curried Chickpeas With Spinach and Tomatoes. Told you I was a fan!
What to eat these delicious baked beans with
Since baked beans are usually served up as a side dish, you need to come up with the perfect foods to eat with them! There are so many options, you can’t really go wrong. Here are a few ideas:
- Pulled pork or BBQ sandwiches
- Hot dogs & hamburgers
- Baked ham or pork roast
- BBQ ribs
- Corn bread
- Loaded tacos
- Scones or biscuits
- Classic beans and toast
Apple Butter Bourbon Baked Beans ingredients:
The thing I love most about baked beans is how versatile they are. You can make them with extra maple syrup or brown sugar if you love them sweet, add in bacon or ham for different meaty flavors, or cook them up with sauteed onions and peppers for additional smokiness. You can also add as much sweetness or as much heat as you like. Here is a list of what goes in mine:
- Bacon - Cook it up crisp. When I originally made this in Trinidad I used salted pigtail and it was fantastic. You can also use leftover pork roast or even pancetta instead of bacon - for a vegetarian version just leave out.
- Beans - I love to use a combo of a few- my favourite ones to use are pinto and great northern beans, kidney beans and navy beans. Feel free to use what you have though.
- Onion & Garlic -I used a yellow onion in this recipe but feel free to
- Use a red onion or even a couple of shallots - the garlic and onion dleveloo the flavours of the base.
- Jalapeño pepper - I love a little hint of heat and 1 jalapeño does the trick for more heat add more than one or use any hot chili you like or even trade for dried chili powder or chili flakes as well.
- Tomato paste and Ketchup - they always add a richer flavour to any sauce
- Apple Butter - it’s adds a fabulous sweetness and some warm spices and flavour to these baked bean. Feel free to substitute with apple sauce - not quite the same but it will add some sweetness similar to the apple butter.
- Spices - I like to add Paprika and cumin but feel free to add some chili powder, chili flakes, cayenne pepper or any spice you think might go well with these beans.
- Maple syrup- maple and bourbon are just the best together that is why I added it - for sweetness ofcourse but definitely also cause I love the flavour of it. Brown sugar is a good substitute.
- Molasses- it’s adds sweetness, color, and luxurious texture and aroma to sauce and these beans
- Bourbon - I use it to deglaze the pan and it adds just that hint of bourbon flavor that I love in these baked beans. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t want any alcohol in it.
- Mustard – Use plain old yellow mustard and avoid fancier mustards like dijon Mustard. It’s a great flavour booster. Feel free to sue dried instead if you prefer.
- Barbecue sauce – Homemade or store bought. Whatever you like.
- Extra add ins: feel free to add more sweet peppers to the dish for extra veggies and flavour. Or a dash of apple cider to balance the sweetness or even some W sauce.
How to Make
This is the easiest side dish ever to make! To do it, just brown you bacon until crisp then add the onion, garlic and jalapeño or hot chili and cook until softened. Them stir in the rest of the ingredients: sauces, beans, broth and and spices and bring to a simmer. Once they are simmering give them a good stir and transfer them to the oven to bake for about an hour until thickened and bubbling. After an hour, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. I like to make mine all on one large skillet - but feel free to transfer the beans to a casserole or baking dish then to the oven.
Storing & Freezing Baked beans:
- Leftover baked beans store incredibly well.
- To store them just let them cool and transfer the leftovers into an airtight container.
- Refrigerate for 4 to 5 days. When you are ready to enjoy them again, just pop them in the microwave and heat until warmed through.
- Freezing baked beans: When stored properly, frozen baked beans can last for up to 6 months in the freezer. For the best results, freeze baked beans the same day that you cook them. Then refrigerate for 6 hours before freezing to let them finish cooling completely. Store the beans in a BPA-free and freezer-safe container
Tips and Tricks
- Choose your barbecue sauce carefully. You want a neutral sauce and not one that’s overly sweet or overly spicy since you want the apple butter flavor to come through and you will be adding maple syrup to the mix.
- If you prefer to keep this vegetarian, go for vegetarian baked beans instead and omit the bacon.
- Before baking everything, taste the mixture and adjust the ingredients to your taste.
- The beans: The best baked beans feature varieties that maintain their shape while they cook, turning creamy and soft on the inside but still retaining the slightest hint of a snap when bitten. The ideal beans for this dish are thicker-skinned varieties like navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans or Great Northern beans.
- Dried beans versus canned: Using dried beans is a cost-effective, healthy way to build homemade baked beans from scratch, even if it takes an extra hour to soak or cook them. Plan to soak your beans overnight, rinse then boil them in a large pot of water until tender. I usually use 1 ½-2 cups of dried beans to make up for the 3 cans in the recipe. Some cooks opt to use canned beans for convenience just like I did in this recipe. Both result in delicious baked beans. I’m not a fan of premixed pork and beans in a can - so I don’t recommend them in this case because I feel that I can’t control the amount of sweetness in the recipe as much with those.
More Delicious bean recipes:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4-6 slices of bacon, chopped (I used thick cut but regular is fine)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño seeded and minced or a hot pepper of your choice and intensity
- 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 1 cup Apple butter (Apple butter recipe below)
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (store bought or homemade)
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard of choice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ tablespoons organic unsulphured molasses
- 3 19 oz cans mixed beans drained and rinsed (I used a mixture of pinto and great northern beans)
- ½ cup water or broth
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Heat oil in large (12 inch) oven proof skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and is golden and crispy, approx 7-10 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic and jalapeño and sauté until onions are softened and translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and cook stirring 1 minute.
- Deglaze pan with the bourbon, scraping all the brown bits from bottom of pan.
- Add the apple butter, BBQ sauce, ketchup,maple syrup, mustard, paprika, cumin, molasses, and stir well to combine.
- Stir in the beans and broth or water and bring to a simmer then transfer skillet to oven and bake approx 45 min to 60 minutes or until beans are thick and bubbling. (Transfer to 8x10 inch casserole dish if you want to bake them in a baking dish)
- Once out of the oven allow them to rest 10 min before serving