Crock pot beans – semi-homemade & tangy-sweet

crock pot beans

Hosting a July 4th pool party/barbecue is as much of a tradition for my family as is having baked beans on the menu. In years past, I often prepared a longtime favorite recipe called “Calico Beans” that I’m sure is available in multiple versions in a million places all over the web. This year was going to be different. It was supposed to be anyway. Besides not being in a drought (thank you, Lord)  – and, therefore, not having a burn ban on fireworks – this year I was going to make entirely homemade crock pot beans from scratch. My intended crock pot beans would not contain anything from a can and would have a tangy-sweet sauce that would give the beans a little somethin’ somethin’ to set them apart from traditional sweet barbecue beans.  This year’s crock pot beans would begin with good old fashioned beans that require soaking just the way Grandma made them.

Yes, well, if you have a tendency to look to save time like someone else I know and have a smidgen of Type A in you I’d  give the “entirely from scratch crock pot beans” idea some more thought.  Although I followed the quick soak instructions to the letter, my beans would not soften to save their little bean lives.  After cooking overnight they were still little nuggets of rough roughage. Despite my valiant effort of transferring what looked like deeply flavorful barbecue beans to a large kettle, adding water, and cooking some more (boiling is more like it), my beans were a bomb. Not to be confused with “the” bomb.

My nostrils and taste buds must have been skewed because it was Hubby who regrettably informed me that my beans tasted burned, were still hard, and there was seemingly no amount of cooking that was going to soften them or salvage them at this point. With less than two hours to go I had to create a semi-homemade version of my intended tangy-sweet crock pot beans. And since you’re reading about it here you know they were “the” bomb and I now have a new speedy go-to recipe for baked beans.

Step 1: Add sauce ingredients to the crock pot and give it a good stir (ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, smoked Spanish paprika).

sauce ingredients for crock pot beans

Step 2: Being mindful of sodium, I sauteed 4 strips of low-sodium bacon and retained less than a tablespoon of drippings to which I added one very large chopped onion.

Notice there’s more onion than bacon. I am my father’s daughter. 🙂

sauteed bacon and onion

Step 3 End of homemade begin semi-homemade: Open six 15 oz. cans of any combination of your favorite reduced sodium beans, rinse well and toss into the crock.

Step 4: Give it all a good stir, cover, and cook on low 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. I used a mixture of pinto and northern beans, although lima and kidney beans would have been a nice colorful addition.

Crock pot beans - semi-homemade & tangy-sweet
Serves: 12-14
These barbecue beans have more tang than sweet and are a nice, tasty change from regular beans. Crock pot preparation makes them a quick and easy go to recipe with no fuss.
  • ⅓ C ketchup
  • ⅓ C molasses
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 - 15oz cans reduced sodium pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 - 15oz cans Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 - 15oz cans kidney beans (or use any combination of beans that you wish)
  1. Add the first six ingredients to the crock pot and stir.
  2. Saute bacon until fat begins to render and bacon begins to brown. Drain well, reserving 1 Tbsp fat.
  3. Add diced onion and brown a bit.
  4. Transfer bacon and onion to crock pot and add you favorite combination of beans.
  5. Mix well and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.

My sister was the first to comment that this year’s beans were different in a tastier way and my anti-sweet-bean brother-in-law went back for seconds. In the end, my crock pot beans weren’t entirely from scratch, but they were semi-homemade and full of love.

But know that I am still determined to make these crock pot beans with dry beans someday soon and when I achieve success I’ll pass it on. Patiently following the instructions for overnight soaking is what I should have done, right? Right. 🙂

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