Darn Good Baked Beans

This smoked baked beans recipe never fails to impress everyone who tries it! As written, it contains bacon and ground beef, but it can easily be made vegetarian. In fact, I often split the recipe into two foil pans before adding the meats so that one pan can remain meatless.

Darn Good Baked Beans in bowl

This is a recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen’s "The Best Barbecued Beans on the Planet" out of his Barbecue! Bible book. I have been making these beans for years and I have added my own twist to it.

Serves: 12-16 people

Supplies needed: 

  • 1 large or 2 medium-size aluminum foil pans (I often use two so that I can have one with meat and one without)
  • 2 cups hickory wood chips (if using a charcoal grill) or pellets for wood pellet grill (I like Traeger's BBQ Blend for this).


  • 12 oz bacon, cut into pieces the size you like
  • 12 oz ground beef (I recommend an 80/20 blend)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) butter beans, drained
  • 2 cans (each 15 ounces) baked beans or "pork and beans"
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced (for hotter beans, leave the seeds in)
  • 2 cups sweet red barbecue sauce of your choice
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1: (Skip this step if making a vegetarian version!) Place chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and fry until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon to a plate (it's OK to nibble a few pieces) and pour off all the bacon fat, saving a few tablespoons for the beans, if desired. Use the same skillet to brown the ground beef.

Step 2: If using a charcoal grill, set up for indirect heat and preheat it to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at the proper temp, add wood chips. If using a pellet grill, set to 225 degrees.

Step 3: Empty the cans of black, kidney and butter beans into a large colander and drain. Rinse the beans under cold running water and drain again. Place all the beans in a large nonreactive mixing bowl and add the chopped onion, bell and poblano peppers, garlic, and jalapeños and stir to mix. Add the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and mustard, and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and black pepper to taste.

Step 4: Transfer the bean mixture to the aluminum foil pan (or pans). If including bacon and ground beef, and the meats to one or both pans now. You can even drizzle a few tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat over the beans for extra flavor!

Step 5: When your grill is up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, place the pans of beans in the center of the grill (remember — if you are using a charcoal grill, you should have your coals off to both sides for indirect heat), and close the grill. Cook the beans until they are thick and richly flavored, about 1 hour. If the beans start to dry out, cover them loosely with aluminum foil. Remove the beans from the grill and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Darn Good Baked Beans on the grillDarn Good Baked Beans on the grill

Step 6: Enjoy!

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