Skip to Content

Baked Beans with Ground Beef

I'd like to introduce you to my favorite baked beans recipe: Baked Beans with Ground Beef. Adding savory crumbly ground beef to classic baked beans is such a great way to turn baked beans into a hearty dish. These baked beans do not have a watery bland sauce. These are wonderful sticky-sweet barbecue-y saucy baked beans... with a little extra protein from the ground beef.

Sort of like a cross between a thick chili and baked beans.

This dish is naturally gluten-free, and is ready in under an hour because I used canned beans as a shortcut... because ain't nobody got time to cook beans from scratch!

Baked beans with ground beef on a plate
Jump to:

Thick baked beans

It's the thick, sticky-sweet sauce for me. I am not a fan of watery, soupy, runny baked beans. So if you're like me and like stewy and thick baked beans, then you're going to love this twist on baked beans!

I also need my baked beans to have a little something to them that's not just beans.

Closeup of thick baked beans with ground beef.

A lot of people add bacon to their baked beans (and you can certainly do that here too!), but I find that bacon doesn't help with the beany texture of baked beans. That's where the addition of ground beef comes in!

Ground beef baked beans

In this ground beef baked beans recipe I season cooked crumbled ground beef with a few simple spices and then add them to beans, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, and a few other ingredients to make the tastiest baked bean sauce. 

Then it's all baked together until bubbly, syrupy, and hot. It's perfection! It's almost like really thick chili, but sweet, tangy, and smoky.

This is a perfect hearty side dish because it's filling, saucy, and so so flavorful!

Close up of ground beef baked beans on a plate

Try this other hearty recipe with beans: Kidney Bean Jambalaya

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef (90-93% lean is best)
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or sweet paprika and a few drops of liquid smoke seasoning)
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup BBQ sauce
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup apple juice or water 
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 14-oz cans kidney beans (dark red or light red kidney beans), drained but not rinsed
  • 2 14-oz cans pinto beans, drained but not rinsed
  • Optional veggie add-ins: bell pepper and/or celery, finely diced
Ingredients to make baked beans with ground beef

Try this other recipe with beans: Shakshuka with White Beans

Equipment

In addition to the usual cooking equipment (cutting board, measuring cups and spoons), you'll need the following:

OR if you don't have a large oven-safe pan:

  • Large skillet and a ~2.5-3-quart baking dish

More recipes with pinto beans: Pinto Bean Salad with Avocado Dressing

Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375F.

Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and ground beef. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the ground beef is cooked through, using a spatula to break up the ground beef and stir frequently. If needed, drain most of the grease off (you can use tongs and a paper towel to absorb the excess grease).

Cooked crumbled ground beef in a pan

Step 3: Add the onion and minced garlic (if adding optional veggies—see notes below, add them here too!), and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften.

Diced onion sauteed with ground beef in a pan

Step 4: Add the smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring to combine all the seasonings.

Seasonings added to ground beef in a pan.

Step 5: Either transfer the ground beef mixture to your baking dish, or leave it in the skillet if you're using a large oven-safe skillet. Add the rest of the ingredients (apple cider vinegar through the beans). Stir well. REALLY well. Taste the mixture and adjust to taste with salt and/or sweetener, if needed. Optional: Wipe the edge of the skillet/pan with a damp paper towel to clean it, so the sauce doesn't get baked onto the pan and it looks nice for serving.

Beans, BBQ sauce, ketchup, and other ingredients added to a pan with ground beef.

Step 6: Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the baked beans are heated through and bubbly on the edges. The longer you bake, the thicker the sauce will be. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Wooden spoon in a pan of baked beans with ground beef.

Try this other beany meaty recipe: 25 Minute Chickpeas and Chorizo Stew

Baked beans without bacon

As you can see, this recipe is made without bacon or pork. As much as I believe that "bacon makes everything better," I find that bacon kind of gets lost in baked beans a little I'd rather enjoy my bacon separately (read: crispy!) if I am going to have the calories!

Instead, I use plenty of smoked paprika in this baked beans recipe. It adds that smokiness that you would normally come from bacon. If you don't have smoked paprika, you can use regular sweet paprika and a few drops of liquid smoke (this stuff is the best because it has just 2 ingredients!).

Adding baked beans with ground beef to a plate

More saucy flavorful recipes to try: Instant Pot Gumbo

Recipe variation ideas

→ Switch up the beans! Try swapping some of the beans but butter beans or small white beans. Read the section about beans below.

→ Cook beans from scratch: You'll need about 5-6 cups of cooked beans for this recipe.

→ Add bacon if you like. Just cook 4-6 strips of bacon in a pan before getting started. Remove the crispy bacon, let it cool on a paper towel, and crumble it. Use tongs and a paper towel to absorb some of the excess grease, then cook the ground beef in the bacon drippings. Add half the bacon to the bean mixture before baking, then sprinkle the other half on top before serving.

→ Make it spicy: Add a diced jalapeño, or add powdered cayenne pepper to taste.

→ Add more veggies: This recipe works really well with a few hidden veggies. Try adding a bell pepper and/or adding a few stalks of celery along with the onions so they have time to soften. If adding the veggies, make sure to finely diced them (discard the pepper seeds and pith, obviously). The veggies will add a nice texture to the baked beans without really being noticeable because there's so much flavor and sauce going on in this dish!

→ Switch up the meat: Instead of ground beef, try ground chorizo or ground pork with these baked beans!

What kind of beans to use for baked beans

There are dozens of different ways to make baked beans. Traditionally, baked beans are usually made with white beans, such as navy beans.

I like using a combination of kidney beans (light colored ones if you can find them) and pinto beans. These two beans are slightly different sizes and textures, giving the baked beans a little more variety in texture. The kidney beans hold their shape really well during baking, while the pinto beans break apart just a little bit, giving these baked beans the perfect texture.

You can certainly use canned navy beans for this recipe! Great northern beans also hold up well to being baked.

How to serve baked beans

Baked beans are a classic side dish for summer cookouts and BBQs. Serve them work with other summer entertaining favorites, such as potato salad, broccoli salad, and grilled chicken. Or try it with some unique summer side dishes, such as coleslaw orzo salad, tuna pasta salad, and jalapeño popper burgers.

Baked beans go REALLY well with cornbread. Try this slightly spicy jalapeño leek cornbread, or this cheddar herb cornbread!

Baked beans make a great topping for a baked potato bar!

We often just have these baked beans for dinner over rice with a side salad, such as a coleslaw (the sweet baked beans sauce works really well with crunchy zesty slaw!)

Can you freeze baked beans?

Yes, you can freeze baked beans if you have any left over! I recommend dividing leftover baked beans in smaller portions (1, 2, or 3 cups) into freezer-safe quart-sized zip-lock bags. Lay the bags flat in the freezer on a cutting board or a large plate so the beans freeze flat. The store however you like to—standing up or laying flat.

To thaw frozen baked beans, place the zip-lock bag in a bowl or a food storage container and into the fridge, letting it thaw overnight. The reason for the container underneath is that sometimes freezer bags get a little crack in them, and you don't want baked bean sauce all over your fridge. Once the baked beans are totally thawed, you can heat them up in the microwave or in a small saucepan to serve, stirring to mix everything together.

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Skillet of baked beans with ground beef.
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Baked Beans with Ground Beef

These easy Baked Beans with Ground Beef are thick and stewy, sort of like a saucy BBQ chili. They are the most flavorful side dish, or make them as the main dish!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Hands-on time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Kosher
Servings: 8
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef - (90% or 93% lean is best)
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion - diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika - or sweet paprika and a few drops of liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • cup ketchup
  • cup BBQ sauce
  • cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup apple juice - or water
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 14-oz cans kidney beans - (dark red or light red kidney beans), drained but not rinsed
  • 2 14-oz cans pinto beans - drained but not rinsed
  • Optional veggie add-ins: bell pepper and/or celery - finely diced

Special equipment

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Heat a large casserole pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and ground beef. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the ground beef is cooked through, using a spatula to break up the ground beef and stir frequently. Drain most of the grease off (you can use tongs and a paper towel to absorb the excess grease).
  • Add the onion and minced garlic (if adding optional veggies, add them here too—see notes below), and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften.
  • Add the smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring to combine all the seasonings.
  • Either transfer the ground beef mixture to your baking dish, or leave it in the pan if you're using a large oven-safe pan. Add the rest of the ingredients (apple cider vinegar through the beans). Stir well. REALLY well. Taste the mixture and adjust to taste with salt and/or sweetener, if needed.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the baked beans are heated through and bubbly. The longer you bake, the thicker the sauce will be. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe variation ideas

→ Switch up the beans! Traditional baked beans are made with white beans, such as navy beans. Try using navy beans or butter beans. If cooking beans from scratch, you'll need about 5-6 cups of cooked beans for this recipe.
→ Add bacon if you like. Just cook 4-6 strips of bacon in a pan before getting started. Remove the crispy bacon, let it cool on a paper towel, and crumble it. Use tongs and a paper towel to absorb some of the excess grease, then cook the ground beef in the bacon drippings. Add half the bacon to the bean mixture before baking, then sprinkle the other half on top before serving.
→ Make it spicy: Add a diced jalapeño, or add powdered cayenne pepper to taste.
→ Add more veggies: This recipe works well with a few hidden veggies. Try adding a bell pepper and/or adding a few stalks of celery along with the onions. If adding the veggies, make sure to finely diced them (discard the pepper seeds and pith). The veggies will add a nice texture to the baked beans without really being noticeable because there's so much flavor and sauce going on in this dish!
→ Switch up the meat: Instead of ground beef, try ground chorizo or ground pork with these baked beans!

Nutrition

Calories: 392kcal (20%) | Carbohydrates: 49g (16%) | Protein: 20g (40%) | Fat: 13g (20%) | Saturated Fat: 5g (25%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg (13%) | Sodium: 1241mg (52%) | Potassium: 822mg (23%) | Fiber: 11g (44%) | Sugar: 19g (21%) | Vitamin A: 566IU (11%) | Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) | Calcium: 101mg (10%) | Iron: 4mg (22%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

Share this post by clicking the buttons below:

Comments or questions about the recipe?
Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.