Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Guys. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think Fall might actually be here to stay. We’ve had the A/C off and the windows open for the better part of a week now. The leaves are starting to turn colors and the chickens are slowing down their laying (a sure sign that the days are getting shorter).

I know Fall is everyone’s favorite season, but I’m actually an equal-opportunity season lover—hence why I live in a place that gets all four of ’em. Although, I have to admit, I am particularly jazzed for the cooler temps this year. Summer is wonderful—and if I had to pick, I’d say I’m a summer girl—but I’m about half past over the bugs and poison ivy and humidity. It was a good run, sunshine and warm weather, but I’m ready to wear my scarves and boots full-time, k?

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Another sure sign that Fall is here in our house? Hockey season has started (well pre-season anyway)! I know everyone’s all jazzed about football, and we’ve been watching our fair share of the gridiron, too, but we’re definitely more of a hockey (and college basketball) household.

This probably comes as no surprise, considering my husband is Canadian (he’s actually from the city with the highest number of NHL players per capita—it’s kinda in the water there). I never got into hockey until we were married, but it was love at first watch!

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

I love watching sports for lots of reasons, but I think the ritual of being a sports fan is my favorite part—to me, there is just something so inherently cozy about curling up to a hockey or football or basketball game on a Saturday night.

A lot of it is how I grew up—we were a sports-watching family, so a lot of my best memories are huddled in a room with my parents and siblings cheering on our teams—but I think a big part of it is also the predictability of it all. There aren’t a lot of things I can say are a given in my life—you never know what is going to happen—but I am pretty certain I can predict that each Fall, I’m going to be able to turn on a football or hockey game (unless there is the whole pesky strike thing going on). I take a lot of comfort in that predictability.

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

And, of course, good cozy food goes hand-in-hand with hockey (or football) watching. Now, I know baked beans aren’t typically considered a game day staple—and most folks even think of them as a side dish—but to me, baked beans are everything that a good, hearty game day food should be.

They are easy and affordable to make for a large crowd of sports fans. They are comforting, cozy, and decadent (especially with all that bacon). And my favorite part—the slow cooker is absolutely the perfect tool for cooking baked beans. I mean, I’m a big believer that you can cook almost anything in a slow cooker (barbecue ribs, anyone?), but baked beans are a case where you really shouldn’t use anything but a slow cooker. It’s the right tool for the job.

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

If you’ve ever tried to make baked beans (or any sort of sauce-based bean dish) using dried beans before, you may have run into the problem of your beans never getting soft, even if you pre-soaked them. When dried beans mix with acid, the cooking time is greatly increased. That means you want to skip adding any tomato-based products until your beans have been adequately softened. That’s why the recipe for these baked beans has you adding the acidic ingredients after a few hours of cooking. (Also, the older the beans, the longer it takes to soften them—beans over a year old might never soften.)

Also, this recipe calls for Navy beans, but you could sub in other beans. If you choose to use kidney beans, make sure to bring them to a full, rolling boil on the stovetop for 10 minutes before adding them to the slow cooker. Most slow cookers do not get hot enough to safely cook kidney beans—they have a toxin in them that can make some folks feel pretty yucky if not cooked at high enough temps. Worth noting, the Crock-Pot® 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker I use (and looovveee!) has a sauté setting that gets hot enough to bring dishes to a full rolling boil. So if you’re using this slow cooker, you’re fine to use kidney beans!

We served up these beans with a batch of the Jalapeño–Cheddar Cornbread that’s in my first cookbook. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans are a cozy and decadent way to please a crowd on game day.


  • 1 pound navy beans
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (use gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses


  1. Soak the beans in water (the water should rise a few inches above the beans) overnight.
  2. Cook the bacon on the sauté setting of the slow cooker, or in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. Remove the bacon and set it aside.
  3. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic in the grease until soft, about 5-7 minutes. If you cooked them in a Dutch oven, transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.
  4. Drain the beans. Add the beans and 3 cups of fresh water to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the beans are mostly tender.
  5. Whisk the brown sugar, barbecue sauce, vinegar, mustard, and molasses together in a small bowl. Stir into the beans. Add the bacon to the slow cooker.
  6. Cook an additional 1-2 hours on high, until the beans are thick and dark.


To make this recipe gluten-free, use a homemade gluten-free barbecue sauce or be sure to check the labels of commercial barbecue sauces—some are gluten-free, but many are not!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 723Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 2047mgCarbohydrates: 85gFiber: 9gSugar: 58gProtein: 33g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


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    1. I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work! You might need to add a little oil in step 3, if you don’t have enough fat in the pan for sauteeing.

  1. Amazing recipe! My 9 year old LOVES baked beans and I wanted to make them at home instead of serving him the gross canned version from the store. I’m an ingredient reader and opted to use 1/2 cup honey instead of brown sugar. My son says they are THE BEST baked beans he’s ever had, so sweet, and wants to eat them every day!!

  2. Hi, making these baked beans for first time, and wondering if you leave the liquid left over from the additional 3 cups water in the crockpot, or if you remove some of it before adding the sauce, bacon and sautéed veggies? Can’t wait till dinner!

  3. I haven’t made the beans yet, too hot right now. But I want to thank you for info on toxins in kidney beans. Twice I have been violently ill after eating chili w/ kidney beans. Could never understand why. Thanks!

  4. Made these beans for dinner tonight……totally yummy! Love the sweet and the tang! And BACON! Mine took a few more hours to cook….used couple year old Anasazi Beans…..but hey…it worked! He thinks I made enough for an army…..I/it did, but that is what my freezer is for! Will be pulling out a bag now and then and enjoying them with our meal thanks to you! Your crock pot is pretty darn nifty …..I fear my older than dirt one is never going to die!

  5. Love this time of year! Our Blackhawks play their first game of the season tonight. My son got me into hockey about 6 years ago. What an exciting sport! (altho I’m also into baseball right now too and our CUBS are still in the playoffs!)

  6. Can these be frozen. I would love to make this but there is only 2 of us. I know I can cut the recipe down, but I love having meals ready to go in the freezer

    1. Sure can! Just freeze in whatever containers you like, and then defrost and heat—no special instructions needed. 🙂

  7. Oh my gosh….it’s not even 8 am and I want those in a bowl in front of me right now!
    Also, your quote about hockey players from your husband’s hometown makes me think he’s from Thunder Bay.