My flavor-packed recipe for slow cooker bourbon baked beans will be the hit of any BBQ or potluck party. I make this recipe all summer long because it’s so simple but oh-so-flavorful!

The classic flavors of BBQ sauce, molasses, brown sugar, and Worcestershire blend so perfectly with the bacon, and of course, a splash of bourbon takes the taste meter up a few more notches!

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A cast iron skillet Full of Bourbon baked beans with

Beans are perfect when you are hosting a crowd because they can simmer away off to the side in your Crock Pot without needing any attention. They’re a filling side dish that everyone is happy to see on the table, and if you’re serving grilled chicken or burgers, it’s the only accompaniment you need!

Do you want the ease of using your slow cooker more often when entertaining guests? (you should!) Here are some tips and tricks for using it safely to make even more delicious food, and protect your investment: Can I leave food in a slow cooker overnight?, How to Thicken Sauce in the Slow Cooker, Safety Guide – How to Use and Clean Your Crock Pot

Slow Cooker Bacon and Bourbon Baked Beans Recipe

Why these Bourbon Baked beans Will Be A Hit

First, I love any recipe that’s simple to make, especially for days when I’m hosting company or heading to a potluck party. This set-it-and-forget-it Crock Pot recipe needs almost no attention beyond cooking up the bacon. It tastes like an old, secret family recipe, but it’s perfect for beginner home cooks, and it’s pretty much impossible to mess up.

Of course, I need to mention the flavor. Smoky bacon, a homemade bourbon BBQ sauce, the perfect sweetness… this easy recipe has it all! It’s one of those classic dishes everyone looks for at a party, so don’t be surprised when people ask you for the recipe.

Not to mention, it takes almost no prep work. You do have to cook the bacon in a skillet, but other than that, you just dump everything into the Crockpot, give it a stir, and come back in a few hours!

Bourbon Baked Beans Ingredients

To make this easy baked beans recipe in the Crock Pot, you’ll need:

Ingredients needed for bourbon baked beans in the slow cooker pack of bacon seasonings brown sugar maker\'s mark bourbon and molasses
  • Bacon – Any kind you like will be fine. Hickory smoked bacon is my personal preference to use for baked beans. Chopped-up pork belly (or salt pork) also sounds yummy, but I’ve never tried it. 
  • Baked beans – Your favorite brand will be fine! 
  • Yellow onion – A small onion is all you need. White onion or shallots will be fine to substitute with.
  • Ketchup
  • Barbecue sauce – I like a sauce that’s a bit smoky with a rich flavor, like Cattleman’s or Kraft Smoky BBQ. If you enjoy making your own BBQ sauce be sure to try my Bacon and Whiskey BBQ Sauce or Coffee BBQ Sauce.
  • Molasses – This will add a sweet, rich flavor and also help to thicken the sauce. As a bonus, it gives your baked beans a beautiful, dark red color. If you don’t have molasses, you can leave it out or add a touch of maple syrup.
  • Brown sugar – Light or dark brown sugar will work in bourbon baked beans. You can mix 1 tsp of molasses into a cup of white sugar if you’re out. 
  • Worcestershire sauce – You can use soy sauce with a splash of vinegar if you don’t have Worcestershire. It adds a little bit of tangy spice to the beans.
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried red chili flakes
  • Bourbon – We use Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark bourbon, but you can use any you like. When you’re cooking with bourbon, a top-shelf brand isn’t necessary, so use whatever you have on hand. If you’re not a bourbon fan, or for an alcohol-free version, replace with apple sauce or broth instead.

What is bourbon?

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey, made famous in Kentucky for its oakey, caramel flavor. It’s made with at least 51% corn and a mixture of other grains, like rye and barley. It’s characteristic color and taste are attributed to it being distilled in oak barrels, and because it can’t contain any additives except for water, so the flavor is consistently delicious every time.

How to Make This Bourbon Baked Beans Recipe Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by doing a bit of prep. Grab a knife and cutting board and dice your onion. Measure out the rest of your ingredients and set them aside.
  1. Cut the raw bacon into 2-inch strips using scissors or a sharp knife. 
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat and let it get nice and hot. Fry the bacon until it’s cooked through but not quite crisp.
  1. Drain away the excess fat, but leave the bacon in the pan.
  2. Add the diced onions to the bacon and cook until they become translucent. Turn off the heat.
  3. Open the cans of baked beans and dump them in the slow cooker. Add the ketchup, BBQ sauce, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, and give everything a good stir.
  1. Next, add the cooked bacon and onions to the slow cooker.
  2. Pour the bourbon over top and add the dried red chili flakes. Stir well so all the ingredients are completely combined.
bourbon being poured into baked beans in a slow cooker
  1. Place the cover on the slow cooker and let it cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours. Serve hot.

Tips and Helpful Hints to Make the Best Baked Beans

  • I find it’s easier to cut the bacon when it’s really cold. You can even stick the bacon package in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you start cooking to make it easier.
  • If you prefer not to use pre-baked cans of beans, you can use navy beans, white beans, or pinto beans from scratch. You’ll need to boil them for 1-2 hours until they’re tender but not quite fully cooked before you begin.
  • Season to your liking with salt and black pepper.
  • If you want a spicy sauce, add a few shakes of hot sauce or 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, chili pepper, or paprika. Adding in some additional BBQ sauce might give them a bit more heat as well, if your sauce has a good kick!
Bourbon baked beans in a skillet that are Saucy with pieces of bacon and a Maker\'s Mark bourbon next to the beans

How to Make Bourbon Baked Beans on the Stovetop or Oven

Making this recipe on the stovetop or in the oven is fairly easy and they don’t take much time, but you do have to spend a bit more time watching over your beans than in the slow cooker. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Follow the initial prep steps by cooking the bacon and onions in a skillet over medium heat until the bacon is cooked and the onions are translucent.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the canned baked beans, ketchup, BBQ sauce, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cooked bacon, onions, bourbon, and dried red chili flakes. Stir everything together thoroughly.
  3. On the stovetop: Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat on the stove. Cover the pot partially, leaving a small opening to let steam escape. Just set the lid on the pan a bit crooked. Simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally so the beans don’t stick. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
    In the oven: Make sure your pot is oven-safe, or transfer to a banking dish with a lid. Bake in a preheated oven, fully covered, for 1.5 to 2 hours at 325°F.
  4. Check occasionally to make sure the beans aren’t drying out. If you need to, add a bit of water or broth to maintain the right saucy consistency.
  5. Once the beans are tender and the flavors have melded together, they’re ready to be served.

How to Store Leftovers

  • In the fridge – These baked beans will be even better reheated tomorrow after the flavors meld overnight. Place them in a covered, airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • In the freezer – If you want to freeze the leftover beans, allow them to cool completely. Place them in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag and store them for up to 3 months. Place them in the fridge and thaw before reheating.
  • How to reheat – To reheat baked beans, you can use the microwave. Stir frequently. You can also place the beans in a Dutch oven or pot and reheat at medium heat on the stove. Of course, if you have plenty of time, you can also reheat them in the slow cooker. Set the heat to high for about 1 hour or until they’re hot, then turn the temperature down to low or the ‘warm’ setting until you’re ready to serve.

How to Use Up Leftover Beans

Got leftover beans but you’re not sure how to use them? Of course, you can just warm them up and eat them with a spoon, but if you want to be more creative, how about cutting up hotdogs adding them to the beans to make beenie weenies? We really like them on crispy skin air fryer baked potatoes, with a bit of extra bacon and shredded cheese. However you decide to use up your leftover beans, you’ll be happy with the depth of flavor your leftovers will have.

Back Yard Party Menu with Bourbon Baked Beans

Hosting a BBQ? These bourbon baked beans are the perfect spotlight side dish for your party. They’re hearty and filling, and the flavor will steal the show. 

Let’s make it even easier for you. I’m going to give you some tips to make your party easy to prepare for and save you some time.

First, I’d make my bourbon baked beans the day before the party and heat them up in the slow cooker a few hours before my guests arrived. That makes everything easier. Serve them alongside these make-ahead slow cooker hot dogs topped with my reader’s favorite chili recipe and my homemade mustard. If you need more food options, these recipes are all easy to make, can feed a crowd, and are mouth-wateringly delicious around a picnic table or campfire.

3 Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken Wings (slathered in my bacon and whiskey BBQ sauce, of course), Creamiest Ever Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese and Grilled Corn on the Cob

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bourbon baked beans with Makers mark bottle next to the skillet full of beans
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Slow Cooker Bacon and Bourbon Baked Beans Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 16 cups
Here is the perfect side dish for your next potluck, BBQ, or summer party – slow-cooked sweet and savory bourbon baked beans. This yummy recipe features a medley of flavors, including sweet barbecue sauce, crispy bacon, brown sugar, and a touch of your favorite bourbon. Best part, it's super easy to make with minimal cleanup. This baked beans recipe will add a fun twist to any gathering.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

  • 8 oz bacon
  • 4 cans baked beans, 28-ounce cans
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon, your favorite brand

Instructions
 

  • Begin by doing a bit of prep. Grab a knife and cutting board and dice your onion. Measure out the rest of your ingredients and set them aside.
  • Cut the raw bacon into 2-inch strips using scissors or a sharp knife.
    8 oz bacon
  • Place a skillet over medium heat and let it get nice and hot. Fry the bacon until it’s cooked through but not quite crisp.
  • Drain away the excess fat, but leave the bacon in the pan.
  • Add the diced onions to the bacon and cook until they become translucent. Turn off the heat.
    1/2 cup yellow onion
  • Open the cans of baked beans and dump them in the slow cooker. Add the ketchup, BBQ sauce, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, and give everything a good stir.
    4 cans baked beans, 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Next, add the cooked bacon and onions to the slow cooker.
  • Pour the bourbon over top and add the dried red chili flakes. Stir well so all the ingredients are completely combined.
    3 tablespoons bourbon, 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • Place the cover on the slow cooker and let it cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours. Serve hot.

Equipment

Notes

Tips
  • I find it’s easier to cut the bacon when it’s really cold. You can even stick the bacon package in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you start cooking to make it easier.
  • If you want a spicy sauce, add a few shakes of hot sauce or 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, chili powder, or paprika. Adding in some additional BBQ sauce might give them a bit more heat as well, if your sauce has a good kick!
Leftovers
  • In the fridge – These baked beans will be even better reheated tomorrow after the flavors meld overnight. Place them in a covered, airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • In the freezer – If you want to freeze the leftover beans, allow them to cool completely. Place them in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag and store them for up to 3 months. Place them in the fridge and thaw before reheating.
  • How to reheat – To reheat baked beans, you can use the microwave. Stir frequently. You can also place the beans in a Dutch oven or pot and reheat at medium heat on the stove. Of course, if you have plenty of time, you can also reheat them in the slow cooker. Set the heat to high for about 1 hour or until they’re hot, then turn the temperature down to low or the ‘warm’ setting until you’re ready to serve.
 
Cuisine: American Classic
Course: Side Dish
Author: Gina Dickson

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