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"(If Love Won't) Can We Forgive Ourselves" instant pot baked beans

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As part of this year's Juneteenth celebration, I've collaborated with several other amazing black food bloggers for a Juneteenth Cookout Takeover.  My contribution is these deeply flavored instant pot baked beans with bacon.

They’re rich, smoky, and pack that candied bbq flavor that makes for a great batch of beans for your next barbecue. 

Join me in celebrating Juneteenth by checking out the list of contributors to the 2021 Juneteenth Virtual Cookout down below. 40+ black creators contributed to this collaborative menu as a Freedom Day tribute.

Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US back in announced in 1865. Join in, share, and help us continue the legacy of celebrating progress. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2021 on Instagram.

baked beans in a white bowl

Mood Music

These are plenty good enough to take to that potluck you stress about. They’re hearty, thick, and yes homemade.  I’ve seen all the recipes that call for canned pork and beans, but you’d never be able to forgive yourself for missing out on these from scratch bomb azz beans.

The recipe pairs some of my favorite ingredients and flavors to make beautiful music including piloncillo, bourbon, beans, and bacon for sticky smoky goodness. If you're unfamiliar with Nate Smith or Van Hunt, then you should get familiar.

They're individual artists from different genres who make a dope collaboration on the soulful song "(If Love Won't) Can We Forgive." Smith's musical skills shine as he flexes more soul vs his typical jazz and Van Hunt as only he can bring in those layered vocals that mesh perfectly with the music.

BBQ Baked Beans Ingredients

Despite the number of ingredients this recipe is very simple to make and you get crazy amounts of flavor. The spice mix used includes kosher salt, pepper, paprika, ground ginger, and dried oregano.

baked bean ingredients

Other key ingredients include:

Piloncillo - Is the Mexican brown sugar and the secret ingredient to this dish. It's 100% pure cane brown sugar and gives these beans the deep dark color and depth of flavor.

Chili Paste - choose your favorite. The mild heat will be a nice counterbalance to the sweetness and adds a unique touch that will wow your guests.

Bourbon - Bourbon baked beans are the best. It actually provides a bit of that smoky oakiness.

Bacon - what would baked beans be without bacon - dull!

How To Make Baked Beans In An Instant Pot (Step by Step). Video also included in recipe card at end of post.

Step 1: Pre-cook the beans

Add dry beans and water to the pot. Pressure cook on high for 25 minutes and allow pressure to release naturally. Remove the beans, strain them, and rinse with cold water.

Step 2: Cook the bacon

Wipe out the pot with paper towels. Turn "Saute" settings on and add the bacon once the display reads "Hot." Cook bacon as you normally would 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the bacon and set aside.

bacon cooking in pot

Step 3: Add the aromatics

Add the onions, garlic, and peppers then saute 3-4 minutes until tender. Add half the spices, mix in well, and let cook 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.

onions sauteing
onions sauteing

Step 4: Mix the liquids

Add ketchup, bbq sauce, chili paste, stock, Worcestershire sauce, and bourbon to a blender. Pulse lightly to make sure ingredients are mixed well.

Step 5: Pressure cook the beans

Add liquids mixture, beans, piloncillo, bay leaf, and remaining spices to the pot. Mix well, layer bacon on top, and pressure cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure naturally.

baked beans in liquid in a pot

Serving Suggestions

Baked beans are the perfect summer bbq side dish. Pair them with a slaw, potatoes salad, and serve with grilled meats. Try any of these:

Collard Greens Slaw

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

Smoked Rib Tips

Smoked Lamb Ribs

Smoked Pork Ribs

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs

Tips for Making BBQ Baked Beans

  • The bacon add is great, but if you have smoked brisket on hand add for even more flavor!
  • Piloncillo can be substituted with a ¼ cup of molasses and ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • Caramelize your onions for deeper flavor
  • Maple syrup is a good substitute for molasses if you don’t have any on hand. Double up on the brown sugar if you have neither molasses or maple syrup
  • These beans are really thick. If you prefer a thinner consistency you can add more stock or add some water
  • Old Beans die hard! The fresher the better
  • I like mine with some heat, so adjust the chili paste up or down depending on heat preference. You can also use a milder paste or sauce.

Baked Beans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I Need To Soak The Beans?

No need to soak these as you would if cooking traditionally. However, you will need to pressure cook them twice to ensure the final results are not hard beans. Follow the steps to pressure cook the beans alone in water first before adding the other ingredients and pressure cooking together. Total cook time will be 40 minutes.

What are the best beans to use?

I went with white beans, specifically navy. Other beans could easily work including pinto, northern, and pink. Neither impacts cooking times. 

Can I Use Canned Beans?

No doubt! I will caution that starting from scratch tastes better. But if you must use canned then make sure you drain and rinse first.

Which pressure release method works best?

I prefer natural release for beans. Allow to release for 15 minutes by itself, then carefully turn the vent to manual release to get rid of the remaining pressure.

Where Can I Find Piloncillo?

It can be found in any Mexican grocery mart or the International or Hispanic aisle of most grocery stores.

 

Can I Reserve The Beans?

These make for great leftovers. You can refrigerate (up to a week) or freeze them. If freezing, keep in mind the beans will expand so make sure you account for this in whatever container you use.

How Do I Avoid Getting The Dreaded Instant Pot “Burn” Notice?

There are a few precautions you can take to avoid the “burn” including:

  1. Deglaze the pan well to make sure no food is sticking to the bottom of the pan
  2. Thoroughly stir all the ingredients before cooking
  3. Thick cut bacon less likely to stick to the pan. If using thinner slices follow my guide to browning meat in an instant pot without sticking.

How do I get a thick, sticky consistency?

After the natural pressure release the beans' consistency will likely be runny. To get that thick, sticky like consistency you'll need to reduce the beans and their liquid.  With the lid removed, turn on the “Saute” function to highest setting and let the beans reduce to desired consistency. Take a peek every 5 minutes and then turn off once desired level is achieved.

baked beans in a rectangular baking dish

For similar recipes like this you might like, try these:

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Instant Pot Ham and Beans

Instant Pot Creole Green Beans

Instant Pot Cabbage

Southern Pinto Beans

Vegan Stewed Beans

Navy Beans and Ham

make this recipe

If you make this instant pot baked beans recipe or any other recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.

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baked beans in a white bowl

Instant Pot Baked Beans

Quick bbq baked beans made from scratch in an instant pot.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 342kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Equipment

  • instant pot

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry navy beans
  • 1 pound smoked bacon
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 8 oz dark piloncillo
  • 4 cups stock
  • ¼ ketchup
  • ¼ cup chili paste
  • ¼ cup bbq sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup bourbon or dark rum

Instructions

step 1: pre-cook the beans

  • Add dry beans and enough water to cover the beans to the pot. Water should be at least a ½ inch over the water. Pressure cook on high for 25 minutes and allow pressure to release naturally. Remove the beans, strain them, and rinse with cold water.

step 2: cook the bacon

  • Wipe out the pot with paper towels. Turn “Saute” settings on and add the bacon once the display reads “Hot.” Cook bacon as you normally would 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the bacon and set aside.

step 3: add the aromatics

  • Add the onions, garlic, and peppers then saute 3-4 minutes until tender. Add half the spices, mix in well, and let cook 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.

step 4: mix the liquids

  • Add ketchup, bbq sauce, chili paste, stock, Worcestershire sauce, and bourbon to a blender. Pulse lightly to make sure ingredients are mixed well.

step 5: pressure cook the beans

  • Add liquids mixture, beans, bay leaf, the entire piloncillo, and remaining spices to the pot. Mix well then add in bacon, and pressure cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure naturally. Consistency will likely be runny, so with the lid removed, turn on the “Saute” function to highest setting and let the beans reduce to desired consistency. I like thick and sticky baked beans so let them reduce quite a bit.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • The bacon add is great, but if you have smoked brisket on hand add for even more flavor!
  • Caramelize your onions for deeper flavor
  • Piloncillo can be substituted with a ¼ cup of molasses and ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • Maple syrup is a good substitute for molasses if you don’t have any on hand. Double up on the brown sugar if you have neither molasses or maple syrup
  • Old Beans die hard! The fresher the better
  • Consistency will likely be runny, so with the lid removed, turn on the “Saute” function to highest setting and let the beans reduce to desired consistency. I like thick and sticky baked beans so let them reduce quite a bit.

Nutrition

Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 1163mg | Potassium: 597mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 1184IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating




Amy Liu Dong

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

This sounds like an awesome recipe to prepare for tonight's dinner. Looks so delicious!

Loreto and Nicoletta

Sunday 11th of April 2021

Seeing this recipe tells me summer is around the corner. Lots of Great spices and that bit of bourbon takes these right to the flavor train express! Nice that it is done in a insta pot is incredible! Love it. Thanks!

Beth

Sunday 11th of April 2021

I am looking forward to trying the piloncillo - we love baked beans and love how saucy these are. Thanks for the last tip about making sure the beans are thick and sticky.

Kate

Friday 9th of April 2021

Loved this recipe! Your instant pot method meant I could make these bbq beans in a fraction of time! Turned out extremely flavorful

Chef Dennis

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

Yum! The candied bbq flavor got me! This Instant pot baked beans recipe is making me crave.