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Jun 19, 2010 07:42 AM

Doctoring canned baked beans. Suggestions?

I would appreciate any suggestions as to your favorite brands and types (i.e., flavor combinations in the beans) of canned baked beans and how you doctor them to improve the flavor.

I realize that if you suggest a tomato sauce, bacon, and onion-based canned baked bean, doctoring it is going to require a different combination of ingredients than if you suggest a molasses, brown sugar, and salt pork baked bean. Hence, my request that you specify the brand and type of baked bean to which you are doing the doctoring.


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  1. I usually start with a plain baked bean..no flavored beans...that way, you can add anything you want & regulate what goes in the dish plus I think the beans that already contain brown sugar or molasses are too sweet for my taste

    Some combos I've used:
    ground ham & pineapple & molasses

    cumin, ancho chile powder, oregano, latin style (usually comes with garlic & onion) tomato sauce, chopped onions, garlic, vegetable juice cocktail & brown sugar

    bacon, shredded smoked gouda cheese, onions & chopped celery leaves

    chopped tomatoes, celery leaves, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chopped mushrooms, zucchini, tomato juice, tomato paste, vegetable sea salt, a touch of hickory smoke seasoning for a veggie bean dish.

    1. I'm in the tomato-based camp. When I was little, the only choice was Campbell's, with its sad little cube of slab bacon. The woman next door doctored it up by adding minced onion, brown sugar, catsup, and mustard, in a 9x13 pan. She laid bacon strips on top and baked till it was browned and the sauce thickened and browned. I loved that stuff.
      Today, if I buy Bush's I don't find any difference between their basic tomato-based beans and the ones specifying onion, or brown sugar, or whatever. I still use Mrs. Martin's add-ins, but less of them. I slice the bacon crosswise into little pieces, sautee it, and then the onions in the bacon fat before adding the beans and the rest, and simmer on the stove until reduced. Although I've made them from scratch, I actually prefer to start with canned since the tomato flavor has fully permeated the beans. I buy either Bush or Campbell's, depending on price.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        Today I did something different, and now I have the perfect style for me. This one has sliced frankfurters included, but I usually do that - I failed to mention that when posting in 2010. I realized that I tend to find the flavor of the doctored beans TOO intense. So this time I added (plain water) soaked dried navy beans that were cooked in unsalted water. Roughly in a plain to canned ratio of 1:4. I used navy because they are cheap, and close in size to the canned beans. Pinto would have matched the color of the canned beans better. I found that the plain beans absorbed the excess flavorings and make for a more balanced dish.

      2. I use Bush's original or homestyle canned beans for my baked beans base. I fry bacon until the fat is rendered from ii, remove it from the pan and throw some chopped onions and green peppers into the bacon grease. Fry them until they are soft. To the baked beans I add a couple of large squirts of plain yellow mustard, a couple of squirts of ketchup, and couple big lumps of brown sugar. I also add about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Drain the onions and peppers and mix them into the beans. Place this into a baking dish and top with the bacon. Bakeat 350 until bubbly. Very white trash I know, but I am what I am.

        10 Replies
        1. re: vafarmwife

          lol, are you kidding? sounds good to me.

          1. re: ChristinaMason

            I have been made fun of on here before and called a white trash cook.

            1. re: vafarmwife

              Well whoever said that is wrong and rude to boot. You cook just the way I do and everything I know I learned living in suburban Long Island. Don't worry about the one or two people with attitudes, just feel sorry for them ;-) they don't know what they're missing! P.S. My MIL who was from Italy made her baked beans EXACTLY the way you do.

              1. re: coll

                I grew up in Nassau County on Long Island in the 1950's/60's and as in my above post, learned something almost identical. Nowadays, it seems like baked beans are either served at barbecues or, in the case of the non-tomato type, part of a traditional New England supper. The latter appeals to me not at all (though I've lived near Boston most of my life), and I think barbecued meat has too much flavor of its own to be accompanied by the similarly intense taste and sweetness of baked beans. Ordinary beans and franks are anachronistic, I guess. I recall that on the old Dick van Dyke show, Rob Petrie's favorite breakfast was leftover beans and franks (cold, possibly?). I used to like them cold, between two slices of white bread, but I can't remember if that was how he ate them.

                1. re: coll

                  Well I guess b/c when I post my recipes, I don't post measurements and I use condensed soup, Cool Whip, and Kraft American cheese. THese things seem to inspire condescension. But hey that's me so I embrace it. I've never had anybody turn up their nose when I put meals on the table.

                  1. re: vafarmwife

                    Yeah, these people will eat you alive for using that stuff.

                    1. re: vafarmwife

                      You need to find a way to use the words hummus, eggplant and curry in your posts.

                      1. re: vafarmwife

                        LOL My favorite snack of all time is a packette of Lipton's onion soup in a pint of sour cream for a chip dip.

                        1. re: vafarmwife

                          Hey I'm with you Virginia.

                          I use CO'Mush soup in my chicken and dumplin's and everyone loves it.

                          To me it's not about the ingredients it's about what you make of them.

                          As for the beans, no matter what base you use I'd look at adding onions and jalapenos. Seed out the chilies if they're gonna be too hot. Adding BBQ seasoning, and assorted sugars (molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar) are always good.

                          I always just wing it.


                      2. re: vafarmwife

                        Well, that's mean, hurtful, supercilious and judgemental, VAFW. So you use convenience foods now and then, so you like some classic retro recipes, so what? I've never seen a post from you that sounded like bad food. Just because you choose to cook a bit differently than some on here (and don't we all cook differently anyway?)
                        shouldn't make you a target for someone who thinks their rarified culinary skills and ingredients qualifies them to throw a label like that at you.
                        And by the way, your bean fixup sounds totally delicious.

                  2. Lots of great suggestions, too bad it's 85°+ here, not really bean eating weather, although I do like them with bbg and all the fixin's in the summer.

                    When I'm doctoring them up, I buy either Bush's Original or plain old Campbell's, or sometimes Heinz vegetarian beans, (which don't have much flavor at all) and add maple syrup or dark brown sugar, bacon, onion, mustard and sometimes ancho chile powder or a little celery seed. if I'm baking them from scratch, I use a base of molasses or maple syrup, pork stock, if I have, chicken stock or tomato juice (V8) slightly diluted with water, and ketchup, along with bacon, prepared mustard and onion. Cheryl mentioned pineapple, I like that idea for beans. I would think either the juice or a can of crushed in juice would be very nice.

                    I used to regularly buy B & M Baked Beans, in those lovely brown glass jars, but I haven't bought them in years, and it seems they're fallen out of favor a bit with consumers. They can stand some doctoring up as well, if you buy that brand.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      If I don't want to heat up the house by turning on the oven, I'll cook them in the crockpot.

                      1. re: vafarmwife

                        That is a great way to cook them, and I've done it that way, but unfortunately I don't own a crockpot now, and as much as I'd like to, there's just no room for one in my little kitchen (well, unless I tucked it into the corner on the floor.) But it's a great suggestion for doing baked beans w/o the oven.

                      2. re: bushwickgirl

                        I had switched to Bush for awhile, but came back to B&M. Maybe because I grew up with it, but it is so superior to my taste. No more brown bottles though, just cans.

                        This is my favorite the last few years: A can of Maple Flavored B&M bean, splash some Captain Morgan rum in and bake til it's thick again. I eat the leftovers cold, I love it so much.

                        1. re: coll

                          Yes, I really liked those glass jars. B &M are the baked beans from my childhood as well. Do you remember their canned brown bread? Is that still made? I don't ever see it in BK.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            No we always got Arnold date nut bread, which when spread with cream cheese was my favorite school lunch in the world. That's not made anymore either, but I finally cobbled together a recipe that's pretty tasty. Involving Kahlua ;-)

                            I totally forgot about the brown jars until you mentioned it, bet you could find some at a thrift shop, just for kicks.

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              Do you remember their canned brown bread? Is that still made?

                              Yes, indeed! I have a can of it in my larder as I write this.

                              1. re: al b. darned

                                Now that you mention it....I feel like I've seen it at the supermarket, but where? Either in the bread aisle or the bean aisle.......maybe even in the deli section. Of course, now next time I shop I will look to see.

                                1. re: coll

                                  It's usually found next to the baked beans.

                              2. re: bushwickgirl

                                I remember the brown bread well. One of my favorite memories was from my childhood, when I was served baked beans and brown bread in the dining car of a train. Yum!

                              3. re: coll

                                I get B&M Baked Beans in a brown glass beanpot-shaped jar in Chicago. I didn't realize they weren't available everywhere.

                            2. I say forget canned baked beans--especially if you are going to spend all that time adding your own ingredients. Throw some dried beans in the fridge the night before and simmer to make from scratch--or even canned beans that haven't had flavor added are good. You can never get away from that processed over sugared flavor.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: fayehess

                                I did that one time, ran the oven for six hours or whatever, and in the end, it tasted just like B&M to me. What a waste of propane.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I agree. The few times I have tried to make them from scratch it was a waste of good beans. Couldn't get them right to save my life. Besides, B&M are so good as a starting point.