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Better than Boston Baked Beans

    Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon

    June 1, 2015

    southern style baked beans with bourbon

    How about some Southern Styled Baked Beans with Bourbon for your next cookout? Who wants Boston Baked Beans with little sugar, no bourbon, no bacon and simply northern?   When you can make these beans full of brown sugar, bacon and bourbon? The only thing Northern in these babies are the beans. I did use Northern Beans, but then, I turned on the Southern charm and sass.

    These beans are not made from canned beans. No ma’am. They are made from dried beans and they take all day to cook. I know that sounds like a pain, but really they aren’t. And besides that,  they are worth.every.single.minute.

    Your kitchen will smell heavenly all day long.

    Before you get turned off,  let me assure you,  this is not a slave over the stove recipe. It’s a mix it up, put it in the oven and let it cook….all day long.

    My daughter wanted me to go the the antique mall with her in the midst of cooking these. I told her I was baking beans that cook all day long. She said “Mama, why would you do that to yourself?”  I told her to step inside.

    The fragrant aroma melted her heart. Later on the taste sold her. And not only that, because they cook slowly, with lots of liquid, I was able to go to the antique mall with her. My husband was home, mind you. I don’t ever recommend you leave the house with anything baking in the oven all day…regardless of what the recipe says. But I did take an hour to run to the store with her, leaving my trusty husband at home.

    southern baked beans with bourbon2

    Why not just pop a can of baked beans? Well to begin with, dried beans are extremely good for you.  They provide dense nutritional value. They are a complex carbohydrate and low on the glycemic index. They contain beneficial dietary fiber and help to lower  LDL without compromising good HDL. They are a major source of protein, low in fat and are rich in Iron and B vitamins as well as plant phytochemicals. According to the American dietary guidelines we need 3 cups of dried beans a week.

    Another reason…. they are very cost efficient. One bag makes enough for a party, large family or leftovers to freeze. So it’s possible to feed your family a very healthy diet on a budget. Win-win.

    But what about the embarrassing issues associated with beans? No problem.  Let me tell you how to solve that problem. Dried beans need to be soaked overnight to rehydrate. Still, sometimes there remain embarrassing issues.

    So to remedy the embarrassment… 🙂 The night before cooking, I cover them with water in a large pot and bring them to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off and allow the beans to sit in hot liquid over night.

    In the morning,  pour off  the liquid and rinse the beans with cool water.  Then cover with cold water again and bring them to a boil again. This time I allow them to simmer for awhile on low. It doesn’t matter how long.

    It’s according to how much time I have.  Anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. While they simmer, I cook breakfast, make the beds and get dressed.   Or I start getting everything ready for the recipe and simmer them very little.

    When I’m ready to add the beans to the mixture,  I drain and rinse them once again. At this point you should have no problem whatsoever with “the bean embarrassment issue.”

    Now, for the recipe. The night before, sort your beans in a large flat pan. Pick out the broken, cracked or discolored beans and throw away.

    southern baked beans sorted

    In a large pot cover beans with cold water and bring to a boil. Allow to sit, covered, overnight.

    southern baked beans soaked

    Drain and rinse in the morning. In the morning, cover with water and boil again….do you see the foam? Guess what that equals when you eat beans that have not been prepared properly? Lots and lots of gas…nope, not kidding. So, unless your teenage son has entered a contest….we don’t want this.

    southern baked beans foamy

    After it has simmered the next morning, pour this stuff off again. Rinse. Now, it’s safe to add beans to recipe. But first, while it simmers…..

    Gather your ingredients…

    southern  baked beans ingreds2

    Cut up about 1/2 pound bacon and fry in a large dutch oven until crispy. Remove bacon from pan,  leaving drippings in the pan. Save the bacon to add prior to serving.

    southern baked beans bacon

    Next, sautee one large onion cut up in bacon drippings.

    southern baked beans onion

    To onions add all remaining ingredients and 6 cups of water in the large dutch oven pot.  Cover and bake in over 275* for 6+ hours.

    If you’re concerned about the bourbon, I promise all the alcohol will be evaporated in the 6+ hours they cook…but, it may be omitted altogether, if you prefer. Out of bourbon? Rum is a good substitute.

    southern baked beans pan

    Check them every hour and stir the pot. Toward the end of baking,  check to see if sauce is getting thick and taste for tenderness.  If sauce is thickening and beans are not tender enough, add one cup of water and cook longer.

    If beans are tender you may remove lid during last hour and continue to cook in oven until thickened. Just watch more closely toward end and stir occasionally. The sauce will thicken more as it cools, so allow for that….don’t over cook.

    I transfer mine into a bean pot to serve. Stir in crispy bacon.  Serve!

    Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon3

    If  you aren’t serving children, you may add an additional 2 TBLS bourbon and stir prior to serving.

    Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon


    • 1 pound dry Great Northern beans (or navy beans)
    • 1/2 lb bacon, chopped in 1" slices and cooked until crispy. Reserve dripping and drain bacon
    • 1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped coarsely
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 1 cup barbeque sauce
    • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 cup tomato sauce
    • 1/4 cup mustard
    • 1 cup molasses
    • 1 cup bourbon
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
    • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
    • 3 jalapeno peppers, optional, seeded and deveined and chopped..the sugar cuts the heat.


    1. Sort beans.
    2. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Over and allow to sit overnight
    3. In the morning drain and rinse.
    4. Cover again with cool water and bring to a boil again.
    5. Simmer 20 mins-2hours on low.
    6. Drain again.
    7. While simmering, cook bacon and drain. Add chopped onion to pan with drippings and cook until tender.
    8. Mix remaining ingredients in pan with onion.
    9. Add 6 cups of water
    10. Pour this mixture into a large dutch oven with lid
    11. Preheat oven to 275* Bake 6 hours or until tender and thickened.
    12. Check every hour or so and stir.
    13. Taste test at the 3 and 4 hour marks and add additional water if sauce is getting thick.
    14. After the 4 hour mark, add one cup of water as needed each hour until they are tender and sauce is thickened. If it is still soupy you don;t need to add more water...only if it is thickening and beans aren't tender yet do you need to add water.
    15. You may remove lid toward end of baking if beans are done and still sauce needs more thickening.
    16. Will thicken more as it cools.
    17. Enjoy!


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