These baked beans are smokey and sweet and, using the pressure cooking magic of the Instant Pot, they're an easy side dish for your summer backyard barbecues that blow away canned beans.
I make a lot of barbecue in the summer. I love to throw meat on the smoker and cook it low and slow all day while hanging out with friends and family, then serve up a big feast in the evening. I've never paid too much attention to the sides though. I usually serve up classic easy sides like potato salad, pasta salad, and fruit salad. Occasionally I mix in a corn and avocado salad or macaroni and cheese.
This summer I decided I wanted to improve my side dishes and I recently got an Instant Pot. I knew the first thing I wanted to try were baked beans. Sweet and smokey bbq baked beans have always been a personal favorite but I always avoided making them at home. I knew the Instant Pot would be perfect for making them quick and easy. After researching and testing different recipes I'm thrilled with the results! Best of all, they only take about 10-15 minutes of active cooking time and around an hour overall.
NOTE: This recipe was developed using a 6 QT Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus. You may need to adjust the liquid amount for other sizes.
- Dried Navy Beans
- 6 slices of thick cut bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium green pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- Tomato paste
- Barbecue sauce
- Brown sugar
- Dried mustard
Preparing your beans
You'll start by adding the dried beans to the Instant Pot with 6 cups of water. No soaking required when using the pressure cooker! Seal the lid and set to manual (high pressure) and cook for 20 minutes. Allow the steam to release naturally then drain and set aside.
Cooking the add ins
- Next you'll set your Instant Pot to saute mode and cook your bacon until crispy then add in a diced onion and a diced green bell pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds.
- Turn the Instant Pot to OFF and add in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
Making the sauce
- After cooking your bacon and veggies you'll add in the ingredients for the sauce. Again, make sure it is set to OFF!
- Start by adding 1 cup of water and scraping up and brown bit from the bottom of the pot. This will help avoid a burn warning during the second pressure cook cycle.
- Next add in your barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and dried mustard and stir it until well combined.
- If I'm making the beans to go with barbecue I sometimes add in a couple of teaspoons of my dry rub too for a little extra flavor, but that is optional.
- Add the beans back to the pot and stir until everything is well combined. Next, seal the lid and set to manual and cook for 15 minutes then allow the steam to naturally release.
Optional longer cook
The great thing about using the Instant Pot for baked beans is the quick cooking time. But, if you have time to spare and you like really thick baked beans like me, you can dump the beans into a large pot and cook uncovered on low heat on the stove for 30 minutes or more until they reach your desired consistency. Do not use the Instant Pot's pot for this as it is not designed for use on a stove.
Serving the beans
After cooking, serve the baked beans warm in a large bowl or straight from the Instant Pot if you like. They go great with barbecue like pulled pork, chicken, and ribs or cook out classics like burgers and hot dogs.
Tips and FAQs
To store any leftovers place the baked beans in a airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. You can reheat them in the microwave or on the stove over medium heat.
To freeze, allow the beans to cool then add to a freezer bag or freezer safe container and store for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use the frozen beans, allow them to thaw overnight and reheat in a pot with an additional ¼ cup of water.
For spicy baked beans add in 1-2 diced and seeded jalapenos when cooking the veggies and/or some cayenne pepper when adding the spices.
The molasses gives a deep, smokey, sweet flavor to the beans but if you want a lot of smoke flavor in your baked beans, you can also add a ½ to 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke when you add your sauce ingredients.
If you prefer to use canned beans skip the first step of cooking the dried beans and begin with cooking your bacon and veggies.
I use a 6 Qt Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus model for this recipe and have made it multiple times with no issue. For an 8 Qt pot you will need additional liquid in the second pressure cooking cycle to avoid a burn message.
If you do receive a burn message don't panic! First vent the Instant Pot and carefully remove the lid. Be sure you've thoroughly scraped up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot that were left over after cooking your veggies and stir everything well. Also be sure you don't have any food stuck on the bottom of your pot or on the heating element. If those things check out and you still get a burn message add another ¼ to ½ cup of liquid to the pot and reseal the lid then cook again on high pressure for 15 minutes.
Maple Syrup adds a delicious flavor to baked beans and can easily be swapped in for the brown sugar. Add ¼ to ½ cup of syrup and reduce the brown sugar by an equal amount.
I've only tried this recipe with navy beans but many other recipes online use great northern, kidney or pinto beans.
Other summer side dish ideas
Instant Pot Baked Beans
- 1 pound navy beans dried
- 7 cups water divided
- 6 slices bacon thick cut
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 medium green pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- Add dried beans and 6 cups of water to Instant Pot and cook for 20 minutes on manual (high pressure) then allow pressure to naturally release. Drain beans then set aside.
- Set Instant Pot to saute and add allow to preheat then add bacon and cook for 4-5 minutes until crispy. Add the chopped onion and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened then add the garlic and cook another 30-45 seconds. Set the Instant Pot to OFF. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute stirring frequently.
- Stir in the remaining 1 cup of water, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and dried mustard. When serving with barbecue I also like to add in 2 teaspoons of my dry rub but that is optional. Stir until well combined then add the beans back to the pot.
- Cover and seal the Instant Pot then cook for 15 minutes on manual (high pressure) then allow pressure to naturally release.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.