If you like homemade from-scratch goodness, but also want the convenience of popping a can open, this recipe for canning baked beans if what you need!
Having homemade convenience food on the pantry shelves has saved me on busy days more times than I can count.
The canning lifestyle is not new for me. Growing up, my parents’ goal was to be as self-sufficient as possible, so we naturally had a big garden, and did a lot of canning every year.
One of the things we grew a lot of was beans. They were a staple! You can grow and preserve enough beans to feed a large family for a year comparatively easily, and so we did.
We dried most of them.
But we also canned a fair number too for last minute needs.
Another thing we did was dry them during the busy summer season, and can them later in the year when we were less busy.
These and our canned chili beans recipe are both great for off-season canning!
Canning Baked Beans
The canning process for beans is pretty simple. I find it best to rehydrate beans (i.e. soak them overnight) before canning them.
This gives you a better chance to De-gas them, and saves any guesswork for how much water your beans will absorb during canning.
For baked beans in particular, I not only rehydrate them, but also cook them before canning. I find that raw beans don’t cook properly even in watered down baked bean syrup.
Other than soaking/cooking the bean, canning baked beans is just a matter of mixing up your baked bean syrup with the beans, filling jars, and processing them in a pressure canner.
If you’re familiar with pressure canning, you already now this is going to be simple. If not, check out our guide for how to use a pressure canner.
Ingredients for Canned Baked Beans
Ingredients for homemade baked beans vary depending on your own preference, and the same is true for canning them.
The sugar and vinegar are important for preservation purposes, but many of the ingredients are based on your taste buds. We’ll cover additions and substitutions in a separate section below, so let’s cover the main ingredients.
- Brown sugar
- Barbecue sauce
- Mustard (prepared, or ground dry mustard)
- Olive oil
- Blackstrap molasses
- Apple cider vinegar
Additions and ingredient substitutions
As mentioned above, the exact ratios of ingredients can be changed to suite your taste, and additions can also be made. Here are some common ones:
- Bacon. I personally like to add bacon to my baked beans, and cook the onion in bacon grease instead of olive oil. It adds a ton of flavor! Feel free to add a slice of two’s worth of bacon to each quart of beans if you want.
- Bell peppers. A lot of folks like to add bell peppers to their baked beans. This isn’t my particular cup of tea, but if it’s yours, add a deseeded and chopped bell pepper to the mix when you’re sautéing your onion.
- Black strap molasses. If you prefer, you can omit this. My mother used to use sorghum molasses (which we grew – so she often completely omitted the brown sugar and used only sorghum) instead of blackstrap. Either one is fine!
- Liquid smoke. I’m a sucker for hickory smoke. I usually use hickory smoke barbecue sauce, as well as an extra teaspoon or so of liquid smoke. It adds a great aroma to the beans!
- Black pepper. Adds a little spice and a lot of subtle flavor
What kind of beans should I use to canning baked beans?
This is a great question, and once again, the answer can largely be left up to your preference.
When I’m buying beans, I typically use pinto which are very economical, and widely available, or pink beans. We usually grow a cranberry type of bean, which is nearly identical to pinto beans.
Other beans that work well are great northern, or navy beans, which are the beans typically used in commercially produced baked beans.
How to Can Baked Beans
Step one to canning baked beans starts the night before.
- Soak four pounds of dried beans in enough water to cover beans by several inches. Beans will more than double in size so make sure it’s a lot of water!
- In the morning, Drain and rinse beans in a colander. For degassing purposes, it’s good to use your hands to rub through the beans as the rinse water washes over them
- Transfer beans to a large pot (or pots), and add 2 teaspoons salt
- Fill pot with water up to a few inches above the beans
- Boil until beans are just tender (for pinto beans, this may take up to 90 minutes)
- While beans cook, dice your onions, and sauté them until translucent, then remove from heat
- Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring in the onions last
- When beans are finished cooking, drain them, reserving the broth
- In a large bowl, combine drained beans with syrup, and 4 cups of reserved broth, and stir well
- The mixture should be very soupy. You should look at it and think “no way, this is basically bean soup!” But that liquids with thicken, and to some degree, evaporate during the canning process.
- Ladle beans into sterile quart or pint canning jars leaving 1-inch headspace
- Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth, making sure they are free from any debris
- Screw down clean lids and bands
- Prepare your pressure canner according your specific canners instructions. For the standard 16 quart canner, this usually means adding 2 quarts of water, and the inner rack into the bottom of the canner (your canner should have a rack in the bottom to separate the jars from the heat source and prevent glass breaking)
- Arrange jars in canner so that they do not touch – they can be close, but try to avoid touching so that the heat distributes evenly
- Fix canner lid onto canner with the vent open
- Heat over medium-high heat until a steady stream of steam is escaping from canner vent
- Set timer for 10 minutes
- Once the ten minutes are up, close vent/add pressure weight to canner
- Bring canner to 10 pounds pressure. If you live in an elevated area, use this altitude adjustments for canning guide. If you’re using a dial gauge canner, you can probably use a specific pressure for your altitude, but if you have a weight gauge, your options are probably 10 and 15.
- Bring to pressure, and keep it there for 75 minutes if canning pint jars, or 90 minutes if canning quarts.
- Remove from heat
- Let pressure come down naturally
- It’s best if you can let the jars stay in the canner until it’s mostly cooled off, but if you need to get them out, let them cool inside the canner until the pressure has returned to zero
- Remove weighted gauge or open vent to ensure that no pressure remains in canner
- Open canner in an area free from cold drafts or sudden temperature changes (i.e. close your kitchen windows)
- Use a towel to cover and protect hot jars are you move them from canner to countertop/shelf where they will finish cooling
- Cover with a towel to protect from drafts as jars cool
There’s a good chance that some of the baked bean syrup will have leaked onto the outsides of the jars as they boiled inside the canner, so after jars are completely cool, you can clean them
After 24 hours, you can check for a seal, and remove screw-on bands if desired
Congratulations! At the end of this process you have delicious homemade convenience food on your pantry shelves.
Perhaps they’re not technically baked, but the pressure canning process gives you that same thick, sweet and vinegary dish that pairs so well with pulled pork sandwiches!
Other recipes to try:
- How to can pork
- How to can chicken
- How to can vegetable soup
- How to can beef stew
- How to can chicken broth
Canning Baked Beans
This simple way to can baked beans will allow you to have them ready to add to your meal year-round.
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 quarts or 16 pints 1x
- Four pounds of dry beans
- 3 onions, diced
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 40 oz. ketchup
- 36 oz. barbecue sauce
- 2 Tablespoons mustard
- 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
- Rinse beans, cover with water, and soak for 12 hours or overnight
- Rinse well under running water, cover with water again and cook until tender
- Drain the cooked beans, reserving the broth.
- Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent.
- While onion is sautéing, Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl
- Pour over beans, and add onions, and stir
- Stir in 4 cups of reserved bean broth
Directions for Canning Baked Beans
- Line up serialized quart or pint jars, lids, and rings on your work area
- Place a canning funnel into the first jar
- Fill the jar with beans to about 3/4 of an inch from the top
- Move the funnel to the next jar
- Wipe rim of the first jar with a clean, damp cloth to make sure it’s clean of debris. Place lid and ring on top, screwing the ring down firmly
- Repeat with remaining jars and beans
- Next, prepare your pressure canner ready.
- Place prepared jars of beans in the canner doing your best to make sure they’re not touching, place lid on with pressure valve open and heat over medium-high heat.
- Once a steady stream of steam begins to escape the pressure valve set the timer for ten minutes.
- After the ten minutes are up, put the weight on, and heat it up until it reaches ten pounds of pressure, or the weight starts jiggling depending on your canner.
- Process pints for 75 minutes, and quarts for 90 minutes
- Turn off heat, and let the canner cool.
- Let the jars settle for at least 24 hours.
- After this time, you may test the seal by pressing to see if the “button” is sucked down flat, rinse any stickiness off the jars, and remove the rings for storage.
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