the life and times of J T Frey

Classic Baked Beans

For about a decade now I've been making barbecue: the real-deal, low-and-slow, smoked over wood sort of stuff. Every pit master needs a few recipes for sauce and sides. Baked beans is a classic.


  • 1 large onion, fine dice
  • 1 ham steak (1 lb), fine dice
  • 29 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 4 lbs canned beans (black, pink, navy, etc.)

The sauce should be made ahead of time.

  1. Saute the onion in several tbsp. olive oil until browned
  2. Add ham and brown
  3. Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, molasses, and honey; reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour
  4. Cool the sauce and hold until ready to use

When ready to make the beans, add the sauce, beans, and liquid smoke to a crock pot and simmer on low for 6+ hours before serving.

If you'll be smoking some meat, you can leave out the liquid smoke and instead put the beans in an open aluminum pan in your smoker. I love putting that pan on the rack under the meat to catch the drippings. Stir the beans every 30 minutes to distribute the smoke flavor and prevent burning.

Written by Jeff Frey on Sunday August 28, 2016
Permalink -