Slow Cooker Bourbon Baked Beans

These are some awesome beans. I promise. Sweetened with Brown Sugar, Bourbon, and Bacon, these are going to be a HIT at your next tail gate, family get together or potluck gathering.

I call them "Three B Beans" when describing to friends and have brought them to birthday parties and New Years potlucks. The crock is usually scraped clean! You can eat them as a full meal or as a side dish; your choice!

Slow Cooker Bourbon Baked Beans: dried beans, bacon, brown sugar, bourbon, onion, and molasses.

I bought bourbon for the first time. I wasn't sure what kind to buy, but chose the Jim Beam because I recognized the name and it was on sale.

and then I made the most awesome baked beans known to man.

I checked with Shirley--- distilled alcohol is gluten free, yet some people react to anything made with grains. 

If you know you react, or choose not to cook with alcohol, you can use an unfiltered apple cider instead.

Want more info on gluten in alcohol? Here's a bit more on that from Shirley, at Gluten Free Easily.

The Ingredients.
serves 8-10 as a side dish, 4-6 as main course

these are the ingredients you use to make crockpot slow cooker bourbon baked beans. Gluten free and absolutely delicious!

1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight and then drained and rinsed
8 ounces bacon, cooked, crumbled, and drained
1 onion, diced and browned
4-6 cloves garlic, diced and browned
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce (read labels carefully if avoiding gluten)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup bourbon (if you don't want to use alcohol, use an unfiltered apple cider)

* NOTE: 
 if you don't have time to soak overnight, no problem. 
Put them in a large pot, and cover completely with water. Bring to a rapid boil for 10 minutes, then turn off stove and cover pot. Let your beans sit for 1 hour, then drain water and put beans into crockpot)

Also, pinto beans sometimes seem to take a super long time to soften. If cooking on low for up to 14 hours is too long for you (or 8-10 on high) then try using small white Northern beans instead; they soften faster!)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. In a large skillet on the stovetop (or use your Ninja!) brown the bacon, onion, and garlic until the bacon is crisp and the fat has been rendered. 

Discard the fat, and pour the bacon mixture into an empty slow cooker.

Add the soaked and drained pinto beans. 

Now add the brown sugar, molasses, barbecue sauce, and dried ground mustard. 

Stir in chicken broth and bourbon.

Cover, and cook on low for 10-14 hours, or until beans are soft. 

If you live in a high-altitude, your beans may take longer to cook. 

If you prefer to cook on high, check after 6 hours or so.

I served our beans with homemade corn bread made from masa.

I like making quick cornbread with masa because it's not as sweet and the finished bread is rustic and hearty -- masa has a bit more of a "nutty" taste than other varieties of corn flour.

Also, you can use it to make Tamales!! :-)

Recipe to make homemade masa cornbread from scratch. This is a naturally gluten free, nutty cornbread that is super easy to make and absolutely delicious!

This is the Masa Homemade Cornbread recipe I used:

Preheat oven to 425° and lightly butter a cake pan. In a mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups masa
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I use Pamela's Baking Mix as my gluten free all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon white sugar

wet ingredients:
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 stick melted butter (1/4 cup)
2 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients together until well-incorporated and the baking powder isn't clumpy. 

You can sift, if you'd like, but that's kind of a lot of work for a quick cornbread. I end up using my fingers sometimes to break up clumps.

Then mix in the wet ingredients --- use a fork or a whisk, no need to use a machine. Pour batter into pan -- it'll be quite thick, and you may need to shove it around to get it in place.

Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes.

The Verdict.

These beans are perfect.

 I am SO looking forward to the next potluck --- they had tons of flavor and smelled absolutely amazing. 

All 5 of us licked our bowls clean. I'm really very pleased with this recipe, and I think you will be, too. If you don't want to use bacon, I bet a saved ham-bone/hock would be *perfect*.

The masa cornbread was an experiment. I didn't have cornmeal in the house and really wanted cornbread. 

This is quite tasty-- it's nowhere near as sweet as traditional cornbread and tastes "cornier" if that makes sense. 

This would be a more traditional flavor that the pioneers or Native Americans would have had. 

at least that's what I told the kids.

Are you looking for some other Bean Ideas? Here is a great roundup for you!

Have a wonderful day!!

This is the best baked bean recipe, ever! Using bourbon, brown sugar, and bacon -- these beans are naturally gluten free and you can use apple cider instead of the bourbon if you don't want to use alcohol. There's a bonus recipe inside for homemade masa cornbread, too.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at August 09, 2017

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What they say about this article

  1. My husband is going to LOVE this recipe! If I make baked beans of any kind for him, I can get that "job jar" emptied in no time - but this has bourbon - so that makes it even better! I can just imagine the way our house is going to smell while this is baking.

  2. Anonymous11/29/2012

    Oh, wow, this is going to be SWEET! Delicious, probably, but . . . the last time I made baked beans, I used about 1/3 cup sugar to a pound of beans - I loved it, but it was too sweet for my husband.

  3. They are sweet, but not as over-the-top as a few I've tried. I tested a recipe that called for more bbq sauce, and 1 3/4 cup sugar, and then wanted honey! :-)

  4. Stephanie, you rock. We like to drink Jim Beam, and we are crazy about beans of any kind that I can cook in the Ninja (and it rocks, too), so this recipe for Bourbon Beans is a match made in heaven. Anything with bacon is a winner as well - bacon is a food group in our home. Everything I've done in the Ninja has been perfect - black-eyed peas, red beans, a whole chicken, a turkey breast, etc, etc.

  5. These look incredible and I can't wait for a reason to make them.

    On an aside, distilled alcohol is gluten free, however, some distilleries add caramel color (which can come from roasted grain) to add or deepen the color of their alcohol. You should be able to visit the distillery's website or call them to find out if they add coloring and if they consider their spirits gluten free.

  6. Hi there, making this now and it smells heavenly. Question - I am putting in the bbq sauce with everything else - is this correct? thanks!

  7. Hi Ellen, I did add it at the same time I mixed in the spices. I'll put that up in the directions --- thank you!

  8. Hey Ms. Stephanie - Thanks for the recipe! One question: Due to the wide variation in BBQ sauces I am curious as to which particular sauce you utilized. Thanks for all your posts! p.s. I asked my wife for the Ninja for Christmas.

  9. Hi Silver Surfer, it was Kraft. :-) on sale, for probably 79cents...

    I hope Santa comes through for you on the Ninja!

  10. These have been going all day long. When I saw the recipe, I'd been thinking about them and I had all the ingredients at home. We left out the BBQ sauce (I'm a New England girl and no matter how long I've lived in the south I just can't learn to love BBQ beans!) Figured I had the bourbon out anyway - so I made Miss Mary Bobo's Tipsy Sweet Potatoes too!

  11. Love your recipes. I'm thinking about ordering the Ninja System and would like to know which model number is in your special offer.


  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. oops, sorry for the delete, I hit the wrong button!

    Suzetta, I did email you directly, but wanted to share that the Ninja Cooking System 3-in-1 are all the same machine, which has a model number of MC700. The differences in the model numbers (MC700, MC701, MC702, etc) are for bundling purposes --- that's how the stores differentiate between the package deals but the machine itself (3-in-1 Ninja Cooking System) is the same.

    I hope this helps! have a great night, steph

  14. I've had bourbon baked beans before but the recipes I have tried didn't have entire cup of bourbon, just a few tablespoons so I'm interested to try this version! PS Great picture!

  15. This is a great recipe! Did want to add a suggestion, though. I live at high altitude and in a more arid climate, for people who live in a similar type of area, I think it might be better to rapid boil the beans instead of soaking. That seems to be what it took to get them to soften up better, at least that has been my experience with dried beans. You already noted that it takes longer higher up, but I also wanted to add that not only are you spot on with that, but wanting to let people know that it can take a really, really long time, and that I've had the best luck boiling them (sometimes it seems like that's the only thing to get those suckers to soften up). :)

  16. Thank you, CL, that's very helpful. We're about 3 feet above sea level and my beans STILL took a crazy long amount of time to soften. :-)

  17. My dear friend, Tilly, makes these with ground beef instead of bacon. We call them "magic" beans because they disappear almost immediately!

  18. I was really excited to try this recipe. I figured a Labor Day BBQ with the family would be a perfect day. Unfortunately, it just didn't work. I put them on high overnight (11-8). I put extra chicken broth in there too. I just got up to check them, and they were raw and burned. :( I love your recipes, almost everything I cook in my crock comes from your website, but this I'll have to say was a flop for me. :(

  19. Better make em two days in advance. Used Northern beans instead. Cooked so far for 10 hours. Not softening. In the least. Taste is pretty good. But, not thickening. Not softening. I'm sure that by dinner TOMORROW they'll be great. But last time I try this recipe. I wanted something great for 4th of July. Instead, I'll be serving canned baked beans. Thanks anyways.

  20. Anonymous12/02/2016

    Wow these is potentially a great recipe! I have made this 2 times and the flavor is great! a couple of problems though: 1. on both occasions the beans didn't cook through more-so the second batch. 2. a bit too sweet so the second batch I reduced the brow sugar by half and that made them sweet enough as well as enhancing the smokey flavor. The first time the dry beans were "quick soaked" and some of the beans didn't soften. The second batch the dry beans were soaked overnight but all the beans remained semi-hard! disappointing I must say but the flavor was good. My experience cooking dry beans is very limited and I am trying to acquire more skills with dry beans, sauces, and dressings. My web research indicates that it is a no-no to cook dry beans in something acidic like BBQ Sauce? which is tomato,(acidic), based. Next time I will add the BBQ sauce after the beans have softened or cook the beans first then slow cook the recipe for a shorter time. Thank you Mrs. O'Dea for all the recipes and the web site. S.B in L.A., CA

  21. I will be making these for a church picnic. Alcohol is a "no-no" with them and with myself, so what is 'unfiltered ' apple cider? Will the label say that? In my local store, we have only cider made from apple orchards in the area.
    Off the subject : I really appreciate your giving gluten free alternatives! Thank you!

  22. John Hedges8/09/2017

    Dear MS. Stephanie,can I use canned pinto beans instead. I do not seem to have much luck with the bagged dry beans. Thanks, and I love your recipes.

  23. Hi Jen,
    Sure --- it's the "cloudy" looking apple cider that is sometimes housed actually in the produce section. It isn't super clear looking -- that is the difference -- it has more of the pulp left.

    John, yes! Use the canned beans -- 3 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed then everything else the same but you'll need approx 6 hours low, 3 hours high.


  24. Anonymous8/10/2017

    Masa cornbread sounds pretty good. Where do you find the Masa flour/cornmeal??