Suzanne is a former regional magazine publisher, as well as a cooking and gardening writer. She lives in North Carolina.
Sweet and Savory Baked Beans
Like most other people on the planet, I used to make my baked beans with brown sugar and molasses. I don't know exactly what made me decide to try using grape jelly instead—maybe it was that tasty grape jelly meatball appetizer that became popular years ago—but after I switched up my baked bean recipe I never looked back.
I've discovered that grape jelly is a super versatile ingredient. I've used it in my pork barbecue, ribs, and even my spaghetti sauce. I've also found that other jelly flavors work well too, not only grape. I strongly encourage folks to experiment. Have fun cooking—it isn't rocket science!
What Kind of Beans?
When it comes to choosing which canned beans to use for this recipe, it just depends on what's on sale. Since most of the flavor in this recipe comes from the bacon, grape jelly, green pepper, and onion, it really doesn't matter what kind of beans you choose. You can also try combining several different kinds of beans: lima, northern, cannelloni, pinto, etc. It doesn't matter. I say, the more beans the better!
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- 6 slices bacon
- 1 small onion, large dice
- 1 green pepper, large dice
- 1 (4-ounce) jar grape jelly
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large can baked beans (or any type of beans)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Slice the bacon into 1-inch pieces and render in a frypan. Set aside.
- Saute the onion and green pepper over medium heat until softened.
- Stir the grape jelly into the onion and green pepper mixture and cook over medium heat until melted.
- Stir in the mustard, salt and pepper, and beans.
- Turn out the bean mixture into an ovenproof casserole dish and bake for 1 hour.
Baked Beans Around the World
My recipe combines elements from several different baked bean recipes from around the world:
- New England: Beans are typically prepared with either maple syrup or molasses as well as salt pork; then the dish is slow-baked in a ceramic or cast-iron pot. "Bean-hole cooking," a tradition from Maine's logging camps, may have originated with the native Penobscot people. A bean-filled pot was placed in a stone-lined fire pit, covered with ashes and soil, and cooked six to eight hours or longer. See the video below for a demonstration.
- Southern United States: Mustard and ground beef are traditionally added to baked beans.
- Mexico: Pinto beans are cooked with bacon and occasionally tomatoes. This dish is called frijoles charros.
- Canada: Cut-up hot dogs are a common addition, and the dish is called "beans and wieners."
- Great Britain: The British prefer to have their baked beans on toast.
Can't Get Enough of Grape Jelly?
- The Best Barbecue Made With Grape Jelly
Grape jelly stars in this easy recipe for either pork or beef ribs. Bonus recipe: super easy grape jelly meatballs!
- Homemade Basil Grape Jelly Using Grape Juice
Grape jelly is a definite American favorite. Though it is delicious, it can get boring! Rev up the grape jelly in your pantry with this recipe that has a surprisingly delicious twist.
- Grape Jelly Meatballs History
This cult-favorite 1960s appetizer is still wildly popular—but why?
© 2010 Suzanne Sheffield