Smoked Baked Beans with Ground Beef and Bacon

Bring these smoked baked beans to your next backyard barbecue and everyone will rave. You’ll love how an easy baked beans recipe can be taken to new heights by smoking them on a pellet grill.

Smoked baked beans in a cast iron Dutch oven garnished with chopped cooked bacon and sliced green onions.

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A couple years ago I was asked to bring baked beans to a family function. It was then that The Husband’s cousin shared with me that baked beans – good baked beans – must contain three ingredients: ground beef, bell pepper, and bacon.

I consulted a friend from church, who is a prolific grill master and makes some of the best dang baked beans I had ever had. He emailed me his recipe, which turns out wasn’t really a recipe at all. More of “a little bit of this, a little bit of that.” It took me a few times, but I managed to get the measurements just right. Last year when my husband bought his pellet grill, I decided to adapt my classic recipe into baked beans on a smoker. It wasn’t hard to do and it ended up being the perfect idea for smoked baked beans.

Ingredients and tools you’ll need

This recipe uses canned beans as its base. If you feel so inclined to cook yours from scratch, go right ahead. But trust me, these beans have all the flavor of slow cooked homemade. Before you get started, make sure you have these ingredients on hand:

  • 1 pound ground beef – you can get away with using the slightly cheaper 73% lean / 27% fat ground beef since we will be draining the grease.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 (28 ounces each) cans original flavor baked beans, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup – if you’re trying to cut costs, you can also use regular old pancake syrup instead.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 7 strips uncooked bacon, chopped
  • 5 quart Dutch oven, large cast iron skillet or heavy duty aluminum pan
  • Pellet grill – we use the Traeger Ironwood 650 pellet smoker.
  • Pellets
collage of ingredients needed to make baked beans with ground beef.

Assemble the smoked baked beans

  1. Brown the hamburger meat in the post over medium-high heat. Break the meat into pieces using a wooden spoon and cook until it is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the hamburger from the pot and set aside. Reserve two tablespoons of the grease and return the pot to the heat.
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper to the hot grease. Sauté, stirring often, until the onion and bell pepper are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Return the hamburger meat to the pot. Add the cans of baked beans, mustard, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, syrup, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir until ingredients are combined and the mixture is heated through. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Layer the chopped bacon pieces over the top of the beans.

Smoke the beans

  1. Preheat the smoker to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the beans on the smoker.
  3. Close the lid and bake uncovered for one hour until the bacon is starting to brown on the edges, the beans are bubbling. The internal temperature of the beans should reach at least 165 degrees F.
  4. When you remove the beans from the oven, they will be PIPING HOT! Allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before diving right in.

Add-ins and variations

  • The great thing about these pellet grill baked beans recipe is that you can add your own touches to make it yours.
  • Swap the green bell peppers for jalapenos
  • Replace 1/4 – 1/2 of the baked beans with black beans.
  • Replace part of the ground beef with sausage or chorizo.
  • Use spicy mustard instead yellow mustard.
  • Toss in a few extra spices like cumin, chili powder or smoked paprika.

Baked beans in the oven

This recipe was originally published as an oven recipe. So if you don’t have a pellet grill or you came here looking for the original recipe, I’ve got you covered. Follow the instructions for assembling the beans as written. But instead of preheating a pellet grill, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the beans for 40-45 minutes until bacon is browned and the beans are bubbling.

Slow cooker instructions

Follow the assembly instructions as written, but instead, transfer the beans to the crock of a slow cooker. Spread the chopped bacon over the top. Cover the beans and cook on low for five hours or on high for three hours.

Storage, freezing and reheating:

Storage. Allow the Traeger bbq beans to cool completely, then cover with a lid or plastic wrap before placing them in the refrigerator. Consume within four days.

Freezing. These beans freeze beautifully! I usually freeze them unbaked, but you can just as easily freeze them baked. If I know I’m going to freeze them, I assemble the beans in a disposable casserole dish so I’m not tying up one of my good dishes indefinitely. Cover the beans with aluminum foil. Write the cooking instructions on the top so you’re not having to look for the recipe. Consume within three months. Allow the beans to thaw completely before smoking.

Reheating. If frozen, you will need to allow the beans the thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. Individual servings of smoked baked beans can easily be reheated for a minute or two in the microwave. If you are reheating a large amount, I recommend letting the beans come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then bake them covered in a 350-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes until they are heated through.

Frequently asked questions

Can baked beans be made ahead of time?


Yes, this recipe can be made up to two days in advance. Follow the recipe right up until you bake them.


Can baked beans be frozen?

Yes, please refer to the above section for freezing instructions.


Can I used a different type of bean?


Bush’s Baked Beans are navy beans. You could also use canned cannellini beans or Great Northern beans. If you use a different type of bean, please keep in mind that your baked beans may turn out slightly different than mine.


Can I used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon for baked beans?


Yes. Turkey bacon does cook slightly faster than regular bacon, so I would check on the beans after 45 minutes to make sure the bacon isn’t starting to burn.


Can I used ground turkey instead of ground beef for baked beans?


Yes. Since turkey has less fat than beef, you may need to add some cooking oil to the pot before you saute the vegetables.


Can I use a different flavor of baked beans?


Absolutely! I chose original flavor beans so the taste wouldn’t compete with the rest of the ingredients. But if there is a flavor you are partial so, go right ahead and try it.


What type of pellets should I use for smoked baked beans? 


Traeger’s Signature Blend is our go-to, which is a combination of hickory, maple, and cherry. You could also use straight hickory, apple or pecan.


Can I prep the baked beans and freeze it, then defrost and smoke it later?


You can. Follow the ingredients up until you put it on the smoker. Cover and freeze for up to three months. Then thaw completely in the refrigerator and follow the smoking instructions accordingly. Please keep in mind, you do not want to freeze the beans in anything cast iron. The moisture will cause the cast iron to rust. Store the beans in a disposable pan or freezer bag and transfer the thawed beans to your pot of choice later.


Can I double this recipe?


If you are cooking beans for a large crowd, you can double the recipe. Be prepared for the cooking time to increase, possibly by as much as two hours. I would cook the beans in a large aluminum tray rather than overfilling a large Dutch oven. That way the heat will distribute quickly and more evenly and won’t prolong the cook time drastically.


What’s the difference between baked beans and Boston baked beans?


Boston baked bean recipes use molasses. You can certainly replace the maple syrup with molasses, but it will give your beans a slightly different flavor.

What brand of canned baked beans do you recommend?

I operate on a pretty tight grocery budget in my house, so I’m apt to go with the store brand generic. There are a few cases, though, where brand name is better. This is one of those cases. I’ve tried several generic store brand beans and found them to be thick and on the dry side. I’ve found Bush’s to be the best beans because they have more liquid. That extra “juice” is helpful as the beans cook down and keeps the dish from drying out. 

More delicious side dish recipes

Smoked baked beans in a cast iron Dutch oven garnished with chopped cooked bacon and sliced green onions.
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3.88 from 8 votes

Smoked Baked Beans with Ground Beef and Bacon

Bring these smoked baked beans to your next backyard barbecue and everyone will rave. You’ll love how an easy baked beans recipe can be taken to new heights by smoking them on a pellet grill.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting time 15 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 239kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper diced
  • 2 (28 ounces each) cans original flavor baked beans
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 7 strips uncooked bacon chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the pellet grill to 350 degrees.
  • Brown the hamburger meat in a large heat-safe pot or skillet over medium heat. Break the meat into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the ground beef from the pot and set it aside. Reserve two tablespoons of the grease and return the pot to the heat.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the onion and bell pepper are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Return the ground beef to the pot. Add the cans of baked beans, mustard, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, syrup, salt and pepper. Stir until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is heated through.
  • Layer the chopped bacon strips over the top of the beans.
  • Smoke the beans on the pellet grill for one hour or until the internal temperature of the beans reaches 165 degrees F, the bacon is browned and the beans are bubbling.

Video

Notes

Storage. Allow the bbq beans to cool completely, then cover with a lid or plastic wrap before placing them in the refrigerator. Consume within four days.
Freezing. These beans freeze beautifully! I usually freeze them unbaked, but you can just as easily freeze them baked. If I know I’m going to freeze them, I assemble the beans in a disposable casserole dish so I’m not tying up one of my good dishes indefinitely. Cover the beans with aluminum foil. Write the cooking instructions on the top so you’re not having to look for the recipe. Consume within three months. Allow the beans to thaw completely before smoking.
Reheating. If frozen, you will need to allow the beans the thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. Individual servings of smoked baked beans can easily be reheated for a minute or two in the microwave. If you are reheating a large amount, I recommend letting the beans come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then bake them covered in a 350-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes until they are heated through.
Reheating. If frozen, you will need to allow the beans the thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Simply remove the foil or plastic wrap from the top and follow the cooking instructions listed in the recipe. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 0.9g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 871mg | Potassium: 569mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 275IU | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 3.1mg

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