As I've gotten older, I've come to really love a good batch of baked beans. Their savory flavor and soft texture make them a great choice for a good American barbecue and one of the classic comfort foods in multiple countries.
They're also an easy recipe to have on hand for a quick dinner because you can make them on the stove top, in the Instant Pot, or in the slow cooker!
In this blog post, I'll explain the difference between canned baked beans and homemade baked beans, my all time favorite recipe for healthy baked beans, and over 50 great recipes that go well with baked beans!
Canned baked beans are easier to prepare and more shelf stable, but they also have lots of added sugar, preservatives, and unnecessary additional ingredients.
Homemade baked beans take more time (with not much effort!) but are generally healthier because they're made from scratch.
Some of the common ingredients in canned baked beans are:
If you want a healthier option, choose to make baked beans from scratch! Here are some of the key ingredients for the BEST homemade baked beans:
This recipe has that classic smoky flavor without any added or refined sugar. It's also made entirely in one pot with less than 15 minutes of prep work! For the full recipe, click here.
Baked beans can be served year round, as they are both a popular American barbecue dish in the summer and a great side dish for a cold winter night.
It depends on the recipe. Most canned baked beans come with lots of added sugars and extra ingredients, but if you make homemade baked beans, they are much more nutritious. In general, beans are a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, and plant based protein.
They are both. Baked beans are usually sweetened with brown sugar or honey but also have a tomato sauce base with either soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce mixed in.
Most people enjoy warm baked beans, but it is safe to eat them straight from the can or the fridge.
Yes, but opt for homemade baked beans (link to your recipe) that are sugar free, low sodium, and do not have honey as a sweetener. You can introduce baked beans as early as 6 months, but refrain from serving whole beans until 9-12 months when baby’s chewing skills have developed.
There are so many delicious ways to enjoy baked beans, especially an amazing homemade baked beans recipe!
Next time you have baked beans on hand, you have to try one of the ideas below!
1) BBQ Pulled Pork Tostadas: I developed this recipe as a way to use leftover baked beans after a big family barbecue, but you could also make it for a quick weeknight meal.
2) Sweet Chili Lime Pulled Pork Tacos: the subtle spice combined with the fresh citrus in these tacos is actually an amazing combination with baked beans. And trust me when I say the peach mango salsa is amazing with the beans too!
3) Homemade sloppy joes: the tomato based meat sauce pairs perfectly with the tomato based sauce in baked beans. These Turkey Sloppy Joes are my go-to recipe!
4) Loaded BBQ Chicken Nachos: all you need is tortilla chips, cheese, baked beans, BBQ chicken, and your favorite toppings like jalapenos, guacamole, plain greek yogurt, pico de gallo, or cilantro. Pop them in the oven for a few minutes and enjoy!
5) BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches: made in the slow cooker and topped with a multigrain bun and tangy slaw. Grab the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen here! (You could also do pulled pork sandwiches instead of chicken!)
6) Grilled chicken: this blog post from Get Inspired Everyday has 10 delicious marinades that all sound amazing! I think the Honey Mustard, Jamaican Jerk, and 5-Spice Orange marinades all sound amazing with baked beans!
7) Hawaiian BBQ Chicken: juicy chicken wrapped in bacon and served over coconut rice with a jalapeno pineapple salsa. Pure heaven. Did I mention this recipe only takes 30 minutes to make?
8) Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole: one of the all-time reader favorite dishes here at Ka Pai Cooking! It might not be the most traditional flavor pairing with baked beans, but I love it. The spiciness from the jalapenos and the creaminess from the cream cheese really balance out the sweet and savory from baked beans. It also makes for a macro friendly meal because the casserole is low carb and the beans are mostly carbs! Grab the recipe here.
9) Glazed ham: if you're looking for an amazing meat to serve with your baked beans during the winter season, this glazed ham recipe from Platings and Pairings sounds divine! It's made with brown sugar, honey, dijon, and pineapple.
10) Roasted turkey: a perfect combination with baked beans for Thanksgiving or Christmas. You could make a simple roasted turkey like this one from Downshiftology or try a unique flavor like this rosemary orange turkey from Brooklyn Supper.
11) Huevos rancheros: literally translated to "ranch-style eggs" this traditional Mexican breakfast is made with pinto beans or black beans, eggs, and pico de gallo served on a tostada. But, I highly recommend swapping the black beans for your baked beans in these Huevos Rancheros Enchiladas. I'm literally drooling just thinking about it!
12) Salmon: a whole baked salmon like this Cajun Brown Sugar Salmon would pair beautifully with baked beans, but I'm also loving the idea of these Thai Sweet Chili Salmon Bites with baked beans. It's a mix of cuisines, I know, but you'll just have to try it!
13) Pot roast: tender, juicy meat with stewed potatoes and carrots? If that doesn't sound like a delicious, hearty meal, I don't know what does! Check out this recipe from Platings and Pairings.
14) Chorizo Sausage Breakfast Tacos: the addition of sausage with a bit of spice and a creamy dressing made from jalapenos and ranch to baked beans would transform your taste buds. Grab the recipe here!
15) Savory waffles: ok hear me out. These breakfast waffles are made with mashed potatoes, cheese, and chives instead of flour and sugar. They are a great option for eating baked beans for breakfast, especially with plain greek yogurt, chives, and fresh cracked black pepper on top! I love this recipe from The Crowded Kitchen! You could also try these cornbread waffles from Jessica in the Kitchen.
16) Full English breakfast: it's one giant plate filled with bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, and baked beans. If there was ever a "complete meal," I think this would be it! It's a great excuse to try a new breakfast and make a batch of homemade baked beans, too. This blog post will teach you how to make the best full English breakfast!
17) Eggs: a classic food to serve with baked beans. There are SO many ways to prepare and enjoy eggs, so here's a few ideas:
18) Bacon: choose from regular bacon, maple bacon, or turkey bacon. Any of these options are a great addition to baked beans!
19) Sausage: the fat and protein from sausage compliments the carbs from the beans to create a hearty dish you'll want to eat over and over again. You could use turkey sausage links, spicy chorizo sausage, or even make this Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies!
20) Breakfast toast: a classic English breakfast combo. I think either multigrain bread or sourdough bread would both be delicious and healthy options here!
21) Pizza: not my first choice, but I've seen a few other bloggers suggest pizza, so I thought I would too. My best recommendation is definitely this 30 Minute BBQ Chicken Pizza!
22) Hot dogs: just serve the baked beans right on top of the hot dog (in a bun of course) and dig in. Kind of like a chili dog, but a bit sweeter! This would also be a great option for your kids.
23) Hamburgers: because what family BBQ doesn't have burgers on the grill? Here are some delicious burger recipes you have to try:
24) Chicken nuggets: really, this is for the kids, right? BUT. If you want to make homemade chicken nuggets that the adults will love just as much as the kids AND use up your leftover baked beans, you have to try these Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Nuggets! Oh my gosh they would be a great combination with baked beans.
25) Tomato soup: a little different, I know, but both recipes are tomato based, so it works! This roasted tomato basil soup is my favorite.
26) Clam chowder: this cozy New England soup has a hint of smokiness from sauteed bacon and aromatics, just like baked beans. It's a different flavor combo for sure, but the creamy chowder will compliment the savory beans so well. I highly recommend this traditional clam chowder recipe from Cooking with Cocktail Rings!
27) Grilled cheese: an iconic comfort food that just needs all that baked beans have to offer. You could try a regular grilled cheese or a unique flavor like this Chicken Caprese Grilled Cheese.
28) Kabobs: grilled meat with fresh veggies with any flavor combination you could imagine. It's a classic BBQ dish that would taste great with a side of baked beans! I'm obsessed with these BBQ Pineapple Chicken Kabobs and I think these Steak and Shrimp Kabobs would be amazing too.
29) Sweet and spicy meatballs: these cocktail meatballs are made in the Instant Pot and BBQ sauce is the base of the homemade sauce. They would be absolutely amazing with baked beans!
31) Cornbread: baked beans are basically a sweeter vegetarian chili, right? Well, even if they aren't, cornbread is a great way to enjoy baked beans! Check out this healthy cornbread recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking.
33) Corn: one of my favorite pairings with smoky baked beans. Whether it's on the cob or dressed up like this Street Corn Salad from Abra's Kitchen, you won't regret adding corn to your plate.
34) Carrots: I'd suggest carrots if you're eating baked beans during the winter months. You should check out these maple glazed carrots from One Lovely Life or these honey roasted balsamic carrots from Eat Well 101.
35) Brussels sprouts: if there was one perfect side dish to go with baked beans, in my opinion, it would be Brussels sprouts. Done well, of course. With the right seasonings and cooking method, this vegetable will take your beans to the next level. My personal favorites? These roasted Cinnamon Maple Brussels Sprouts or this 5 minute Brussels Sprouts Slaw!
36) Potatoes: oh, potatoes. There are SO many ways to serve potatoes and they're all delicious with baked beans. Here are 8 ways to eat baked beans with potatoes:
37) Sweet potatoes: similar to all the ways you can eat regular potatoes with baked beans except they have a sweeter inside and they're orange in color. My two favorites are stuffed sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries!
38) Mashed cauliflower: the low carb version of mashed potatoes. Feel free to add any seasonings you love!
39) Stuffing: if you're including baked beans in your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu, stuffing is a pair to your baked beans. The salty flavors of the breadcrumbs, herbs, and vegetables would balance out the sweet and creamy baked beans. This stuffing from Ambitious Kitchen sounds divine and I'm drooling over this Wild Rice Stuffing from Zestful Kitchen!
40) Salads: really, any salad would work well, including green salads, cold salads, pasta salads, or fruit salad! You just can't go wrong with a bowl of fresh salad. Here are some of my favorite salads:
42) Tortilla chips: a salty, crunchy, edible spoon aka perfection. You could even make homemade chips with this recipe from Platings and Pairings!
43) 7 layer dip: more beans, I know, but if you're loading your plate with all the good stuff at your family barbecue, it works! Grab the recipe here.
44) Grilled vegetables: like, literally any grilled vegetables. Zucchini, corn, peppers, potatoes, or green beans! The list goes on. Just top with parmesan cheese, a vinaigrette, or salt and pepper.
45) Fresh vegetables: as simple as a veggie tray with ranch or your preferred fresh vegetable mix of choice.
47) Bacon bits: small pieces of crispy bacon sprinkled on top of savory, smoky baked beans? YES PLEASE.
48) Plain greek yogurt: for a touch of [healthy] tangy creaminess. You can also use low fat sour cream.
49) A drizzle of sugar free maple syrup: maple adds an incredible layer of flavor to baked beans. This recipe uses sugar free maple syrup instead of white sugar to sweeten the beans, so a touch more maple syrup on top would be perfect!
50) Homemade salsa: I'm talking about those fruit salsas that are more like pico than salsa but you call them salsa. I promise it's SO delicious. The sweet fruit with the savory beans is just AMAZING. I love this peach mango salsa, this jalapeno pineapple salsa, or this mango avocado salsa!
As you can tell, there are SO many healthy recipes that go well with baked beans, whether it's a simple protein, a cheesy side dish, or an entire entree. Better yet, they taste good any time of day, too!
Be sure to check out my delicious recipe for healthy baked beans when you want to make them homemade!
Which of these recipes are you going to try with baked beans? Did I forget any that need to be on my list? Let me know in the comments below!
Ever wondered what goes well with baked beans? This blog post has over 50 easy, healthy, and delicious recipe ideas to serve with baked beans, including meats, vegetarian dishes, side dishes, salads, and even toppings for baked beans.
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