Smoked Bourbon Baked Beans

BBQ and smoking is an art and religion to many.  As an amateur, we tend to focus on smoking meat and everything it involves.  Rarely do we focus on the sides.  Big Mistake.  It’s hard to find a better compliment to any smoked meat than BBQ beans and you can cook them right along with the meat.  I recently tried a recipe I found at my favorite BBQ smoking website:  Its called Smoked Bourbon Baked Beans and I copied the recipe below.

I followed the recipe exactly as it was written and the beans came out perfect.  there are several ways to cook the beans.  I chose the smoker, but you could use an oven, crockpot, to roaster.  There’s nothing better than smoked beans and these recipe has a sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor that is rich and bold.  It took a little extra prep work, but I cooked them about 2.5 hours and right under the ribs I was smoking.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Link to recipe:

Bourbon Barbecue Baked Beans Recipe

Yield. About 12 servings

Preparation time. 20 minutes

Cooking time. 45 minutes or more


6 strips of thick cut bacon

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, coarsley chopped

1 jalapeño, or more or less to your taste, coarsley chopped 6 strips of thick cut bacon

1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/4 pound dried red kidney beans

1 can (15 ounces) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/4 pound dried white kidney beans

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/4 pound dried black beans

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup Kansas City style BBQ sauce

4 tablespoons molasses, any grade

1/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon or Tennessee whiskey

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf (try not to leave this out)

About the beans. You can use all one type of bean. The beans in the photo were made with white kidneys only. Click here to read my article, The Science of Beans, for tips on working with dried beans. If you plan to use dried beans, follow the instructions there for soaking them. Dried beans may take longer to cook than canned depending on the type you use, their size, how long you soaked them, and how you cook them. 

About the bacon. Substitute hot dogs for bacon and you have Beanie Weenies.

About the peppers. Substitute poblanos for bell peppers. Richer flavor and a little heat.

Optional add-ins. Add 1 teaspoon American chili powder or ancho powder and/or 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves (not powder). Add 1 tart apple such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, peeled, cubed, and add it with the whiskey.

Do this

1) Make sure you are using a 2 quart or larger pot or Dutch oven. Cook the bacon over a medium heat. When it begins to brown, flip it, brown the other side, but remove it before it renders all its fat and gets hard. We want bacon that we can cut, not crumble. You will probably need to do the bacon in two batches. And what the heck, go ahead and cook an extra slice or two for the cook to eat when nobody is watching. Drain the bacon by putting it on 2 layers of paper towels on top of a section of the local newspaper.

2) Pour off the bacon fat into a coffee cup leaving behind about 2 tablespoons and most of the brown bits dissolved in the fat. When the fat in the cup begins to cool, but before it hardens, move it to a plastic tub and store it in the fridge. You can use this later for cooking onions or veggies. Nothing perks up broccoli like bacon fat!

3) Add the onions and peppers to the pot and cook them until they wilt. If the bacon bits stuck to the bottom start to get too dark, add an ounce of water and they will dissolve promptly with the help of a wooden spoon.

4) Add everything else including the bacon. There are four good ways to cook these beans:

  • On your grill/smoker. If you have a smoker, put them below the meat for about 2 to 3 hours at 225°F. They will collect flavorful, smoky drippings from the meat laden with seasoning from the rub. Just be sure they don’t burn.
  • In your oven. Put the pot in your oven uncovered for 2 hours at 250°F. Stir every 30 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.
  • On the stovetop. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and then turn it back to simmer for 30 minutes without a lid. Stir and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon every 10 minutes to prevent burning and sticking. Try to keep the bay leaf submerged.
  • In a slow cooker. Set it to medium, which should be about 250°F and check them in about 2 hours.

6) Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the flavors as you see fit. If you like it spicier, add hot sauce. Add more molasses if you like it sweeter, or salt if you think it needs it. Cook it longer if you want it thicker, or add water if you want it thinner.

Chris Bober is a REALTOR® and auctioneer for Nebraska Realty in Omaha, NE offering a wide range of real estate services including home and new construction sales, land and farm sales, and auctioneering services.  For more information please call Chris at (402) 312-5076 or email him at

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