Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Do you have your top secret Ninja ways to make plain old canned baked beans taste more like homemade? I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve, depending on what kind of beans I want. Most of the time when I’m Doctoring Canned Baked Beans, I’m looking for kind of delish New England style, a bit zippy, a little sweet and super flavorful and that’s what these are.

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans


Not that there’s anything wrong about heating up a can of baked beans for a quick side, but I guess I just like to put my own spin on things and add a little extra goodness – without going through the heroics of cooking my own from scratch.

About Doctoring Canned Baked Beans:

My favorite beans to use for this recipe are Bush’s Baked Beans, the original flavor but this still works well with their Original, Brown Sugar, Onion and Homestyle beans. They have about 14 varieties now and I haven’t tried them all. I wouldn’t use any of their “Grillin’ Beans” for this recipe.

When I have a little time on my hands and want my canned beans to taste like real home-style cooked for hours from scratch, I transform those canned beans. Into a large saucepan goes bacon and onion to cook until the bacon is rendered and the onion tender, then beans with some sweet brown sugar and deep, earthy molasses. A touch of ketchup adds a rich tomatoey vinegary goodness. Then that’s all fortified with the faintest touch of vinegar and lots of mustard powder to give some tang to offset the sweet. That’s my “secret” ingredient right there, the mustard powder. If I’m really feeling it, I might add a whisper of ground ginger; it gives a little zip, but that just depends on my mood.

Then I bake those beans in a casserole, in the oven, slowly, for a good hour, until the top has darkened and almost caramelized, the beans are bubbling and thoroughly hot throughout and the smell is just about driving everyone cray cray. And about the time someone asks, “Aren’t those beans done yet?” They are.

That’s when I pull those glorious molten beans from the oven and scoop through the top layer, the steam pouring out, and I reach with the spoon, straight down to reveal those saucier beans below. And every serving has a combination of the sticky sweet caramelized beans from the top and the saucier ones from below and you know there’s bacon! They’re glorious. I think I’m going to go have some right now before I even finish this post or edit the photos. I’ve been tantalized by that aroma for far too long. Excuse me a minute….I’ll be back!

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Variations on Doctoring Canned Baked Beans:

Saucepan: First of all, if I’m just looking for a quick weeknight side for burgers or something simple, I just drain off the excess liquid that floats on top of the beans when the can is first opened, then toss the beans in a saucepan and add a squirt of ketchup, a touch of regular old ballpark mustard, a bit of brown sugar and heat them slowly for a few minutes until hot and bubbly and everything has dissolved into a thick sauce. Done. And what a difference that two minutes of effort makes. Boom. Mike drop.

Shortcut: When I want to bake my beans, I gotta tell ya, I think my original recipe/method is the best, but it does take quite a while in the oven. If you want to shortcut that recipe a bit, when you first open up the can, just like I described if you’re making beans in the saucepan, drain some of the liquid off. Then proceed with the recipe, below but only bake it for half an hour or so or just until bubbly.

Bacon on Top: When I make my beans, I always chop up the bacon and cook it with the onions; another variation is to just lay the bacon over the top of the casserole and bake it at 400 degrees until the beans are bubbly and the bacon is crisped through. That’s never been my fave way because it’s hard to get the bacon just right but a lot of people love their beans that way and it looks impressive when it comes to the table.

Saving Money on Doctoring Canned Baked Beans:

Canned beans really do scream summer and barbecues and cookouts. Watch or them on sale sporadically through the summer and especially before every holiday. The price can get surprising low. Stock up at the low; it never hurts to have a can or two on hand to fill out a meal and once you try this recipe, you might be wanting to make them more often.

Bacon is one item I really shop strategically for. It’s generally on sale before every holiday, often at half price. Since it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer, it makes sense to stock up on bacon, too.

I’ve pretty much always baked and always have molasses on hand. It keeps for years, just be sure the cap and lip of the bottle are clean before storing back in the pantry or you’ll never get it open again. A little molasses, along with white sugar, make “brown sugar” so it’s handy to have some molasses in the pantry if you don’t regularly use brown sugar. If your brown sugar has hardened, either add a piece of bread to the bag and let sit overnight or place in the microwave, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave in 30-second intervals.

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Doctoring Canned Baked Beans


Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

Shortcut this recipe by draining off the excess liquid from the top of the can and baking for 30 minutes.

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 (28 ounce) cans Bush’s Baked Beans, original recipe preferred
  • five to six slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have a two-quart casserole at the ready.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the bacon, onion, and water. Cook, stirring often until bacon is rendered (but not crisp) and onion nearly tender, and all water evaporated. Add in beans, brown sugar to taste, ketchup, mustard powder, molasses, and apple cider vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil. Add ginger, if desired.

Place beans in casserole, place in oven and bake about 1 hour, uncovered until top has darkened but isn’t burned, watch it at the end, and beans are bubbling and piping hot. Remove and let sit for several minutes before serving.


  • If you don’t have brown sugar on hand, just add white sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon more molasses.
  • Beans will thicken as they cool and become quite thick if refrigerated. Reheat with a little water, if desired.

Keywords: Bacon, Beans, canned beans, hearty sides, ketchup, molasses, Side, Vinegar

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I’ll be sharing Doctoring Canned Baked Beans at Fiesta Friday #280. The hosts this week are Angie of Fiesta Friday and  Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

This method of Doctoring Canned Baked Beans is going to have you swearing these are cooked for hours, from scratch home-cooked Baked Beans! #DoctoringCannedBeans #HomemadeBeansFromCanned #FixingCannedBeans #BestBakedBeans

32 thoughts on “Doctoring Canned Baked Beans

  1. Cletus P. Stufflemarzel

    Great Recipe! I discovered all by my lonesome that nicely Caramelized chopped onion kicks up canned beans a notch or two.

    So, I thought to myself “Self, what other additions or secret ingredients might be suggested on the ole’ intertube pages?” and then I found your site. I added a nice thick cut of Cure 81 sidemeat cut into chunks and browned them along with the butter and onion. Cayenne, Ginger and Mustard powder rounded it out as per your suggestion. These are Bush’s “Honey” flavored so I omitted the Mollasses. We don’t want to get too fancy here, the neighbors might talk. The whole shootin’ match is in a cast iron pan, the oven baking makes sense – these are Baked Beans! Why didn’t I think of that?! I guess that’s why you make the big bucks. This is a Keeper right here.

      • Cletus

        I’m making it again today! This is your fault, the paragraph is just one of the finest examples of prose. My stomach started to growl.

        “That’s when I pull those glorious molten beans from the oven and scoop through the top layer, the steam pouring out, and I reach with the spoon, straight down to reveal those saucier beans below. And every serving has a combination of the sticky sweet caramelized beans from the top and the saucier ones from below and you know there’s bacon! They’re glorious.”

        (Oh hey, Just so You Know, I am available for adoption!)

        • FrugalHausfrau

          Oh my gosh, well thank you for the compliment although I’m sure some would find fault with my run on sentences, lol!! 🙂

          And just so you know, life with a food blogger is not all glamorous.*snort* All adoptees are required to taste all my food, sometimes many multiple times as I tinker and toy with recipes. That might not seem so bad until you’re having coconut cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping for dessert the 5th weekend in a row!

          And beyond that, I’m relentless in seeking out opinions about even the smallest, minute aspects of any dish… My Stepmom blurted out once, “Can’t we just EAT the food? Do we always have to TALK about it?” I didn’t say it aloud, but in my head I was like, “Why, yes, Pat, we do!!”

          Oh, and of course, adoptees would be expected to help with mounds of dirty dishes, pots and pans! Not to mention the main complaint – we always have to wait until I’m done with pictures before we can eat! Or as Dad used to say (he just turned 90) “Hey, hey, where are you going with that?” as I whisked whatever dish he was expecting to be served over to my photography set up instead of to the table! I used to tell him if I don’t have a picture, it didn’t happen. 🙂

          And by the way, I’m so glad you’re enjoying those beans – I’m enjoying your sense of humor!


  2. Anna Wire

    Need a quick recipe for a potluck and decided to try your recipe. I have to say, these were absolutely delicious. Everyone loved them and ate them all up. There were 1-year old twins who loved them as well. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Anna, I’m so glad everyone loved them and thanks for stopping back and commenting! It’s much appreciated. I love that the babies liked them too! 🙂


  3. Vicki Blevins

    I make something similar but I don’t add vinegar and add diced green pepper and yellow mustard instead of mustard powder. Sometimes I will fry a pound of hamburger, crumble it up and add to the beans. It turns into more of a main dish instead of a side dish. Make fried potatoes and cornbread and you have a cheap comfort meal.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Vicki, I’m a fan of the little kick the vinegar & mustard powder gives but if you use mustard you still get both, it’s just not quite as intense, but bonus because so many ppl have mustard and not many ppl these days keep mustard powder. I’m at my daughter’s and was impressed – I said wow, you have mustard powder. She confessed it was from the last time I visited, which was June of 2019, prepandemic!!

      I have added hot dogs but never hamburger but it sounds like the kind of downhome food I love. Thanks for the variations!


  4. Heidi Grover

    I made these tonight following the recipe and I wouldn’t change a thing. Everyone really enjoyed them. Very glad I found your recipe!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Heidi thanks for stepping back And commenting.. I am so happy to hear they went over so well. Mollie

  5. Joy

    Best recipe ever! Ive made this recipe several times now because my family loves them. The one thing I did change was to add at least one can of water because we like our beans soupy. I always make them when I make homemade bread and we dip warm buttered bread into the beans. The flavours are incredible!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Alyssa, 20 to 25 minutes should do it. I’d actually take them out of the fridge for 30 minutes first if time allows. If not, it’s not that big of a deal. Watch the liquid when reheating so they don’t get too dry.


  6. Julie

    Is it possible to put everything together in the casserole dish a day in advance, and then just pop in the oven day of?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I don’t see why not and think it’s a great idea. If you’re starting from cold it may need a few more minutes in the oven. I’d just watch it closely at the end to make sure the extra time doesn’t cause them to become too dry.

    • Trudy

      Made this for a camp-out with family and friends. Compliments all around.
      Best bean dish, ever!
      Thanks …from the other Hausfrau. 😋

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Hi Trudy, I’m so glad you enjoyed them!! A campout right now sounds wonderful (maybe one that lasts until after November, lol!)! Thanks for checking back in!


  7. I searched yesterday for ‘doctoring up baked beans” and was brought here. Had a socially responsible (geez do I really need to say that?!) party and while I always doctor beans up I decided it was time for a change in recipe because while they were good they never disappeared. Served these last night and all gone!! Was loved by all. Thank you for such a great recipe!! It’s a keeper.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Andrea! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I’m so glad to hear it, I love that recipe! Actually, when I make it I always hope for leftovers but it never seems to happen here, either!

      As for, probably yeah, in this day and age, we do need to say that!! I’m high risk but my son and his girlfriend have been over helping out with the yard and walking my scamp of a dog, Chance and they stay outside or if they have to come in go through the lower level door but never come upstairs where my main floor is. They’ve cooked up burgers on the bbq that I made and placed on the bottom step (then I ran back upstairs) as they’ve grabbed them. Then when ready, I’ve come outside while they’ve backed off and we’ve all eaten six feet apart! My gosh it is a dance, but it’s working!

      Keep staying safe, sweetie!


  8. Pingback: Doctoring Canned Baked Beans — Frugal Hausfrau | My Meals are on Wheels

  9. Ron

    Is there any other way to make baked beans? A very solid recipe Mollie and a method I’ve used for years except I just yellow mustard instead of powder. But, alas, we have no Bush’s baked beans here so I have to go all in and make from scratch. Maybe I’ll try making them with Heinz beans in tomato sauce.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks, Ron. I saw a thread from someone in Great Britian that said they only have Heinz, too. Must be about time for Bush’s to go international! I love these beans – they taste like “Home” to me!

  10. Vanessa

    Lots of inspiration in this post. I am not a fan of regular canned baked beans because I find them way too sweet. However I love your ideas about doctoring up canned anything else. One of the things that I like to do is get a can of can of cannellini beans and cook it in some garlic and olive oil and bacon and onion and then add a can of drained tuna and cook that together, and top it with a fried egg. I realize that might sound weird but I promise you it is delicious. And cheap so I know you would like it!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Actually, it sounds weirdly good!! I am going to have to check it out! I love to take a can of cannellini beans with the juices and put it in a pan with about 1/2 cup of cream. When it’s done, squeeze in half a lemon. It makes the most amazing side dish!

  11. I add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, a slug of balsamic vinegar and a shake of smoked paprika. If I’m feeling really fancy some smoked speck and mushrooms and onion are fried and added at the last minute!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my gosh, that sounds heavenly!! Much more upscale than mine but now I know how I am making them next time!!

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