Header image: CHOW
Baked beans are a no-brainer for any summer BBQ. But with a slow cooker, you have so many options that require almost no effort – make a big batch for your next gathering and you’ll be surprised how fast they disappear. Experiment with different spices, different types of beans, and don’t worry, they even freeze well.
1. Easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans
CHOW’s recipe for classic baked beans is a necessity for any outdoor summer gathering. Diced thick-cut bacon adds a smoky flavor that’s complimented by the dark molasses, cider vinegar, and cloves. Get our Easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans recipe.
2. Slow Cooker Charro Beans
These flavorful beans are packed with cilantro, garlic, cumin, jalapeno, and chili pepper. A full half pound of bacon adds a savory aspect and they even taste good cold the next day. Get the recipe here.
3. Cowboy Beans
Four kinds of beans, some ground beef, garlic, and light brown sugar make these savory slow cooker cowboy beans a delicious choice for a BBQ side. Because you know what you need with your meat? A side of meat (with beans). Get the recipe here.
4. Slow Cooker Ranch-Style Pinto Beans
Our recipe for ranch-style pinto beans is less sweet than the traditional baked beans recipe and has a pleasant smoky flavor thanks to the paprika, cumin, ancho chili powder, and jalapeno in the mix. Get our Slow Cooker Ranch-Style Pinto Beans recipe.
5. Coconut Red Beans and Rice
Coconut milk makes this recipe for red beans and rice especially rich and creamy. Red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion paired with the coconut make for a vibrant combination that is accented with a touch of lime juice. Get the recipe here.
6. Black Beans
This is a classic recipe for black beans with onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Extremely simple but seriously satisfying, these black beans are great to use as a base for any dish – pile a spoonful on top of a salad, or use them as a base for any kind of cold bean salad tossed with a light dressing. Get the recipe here.
7. Slow Cooker Barbecue Beans
Although barbecue sauce may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when making slow cooked beans, this recipe pairs perfectly with grilled meats and veggies. Garlic, onion, mustard, coffee, brown sugar, and hot sauce make for a super flavorful side dish. Get the recipe here.
8. Slow Cooker White Bean Chowder
A summer take on a bean soup, this white bean corn chowder is a great vegetarian option and is made with northern white beans. Topped with white cheddar cheese and some red pepper flakes, this recipe will make you rethink chowder in a good way. Get the recipe here.
9. Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Beans
There’s a full cup of bourbon in these beans that make them a boozy and BBQ-perfect pick. Molasses, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce come together over hours of slow cooking for a luscious and special occasion-worthy dish. Get the recipe here.
10. Spicy Pintos
These spicy pinto beans are great served warm, but they taste just as good served as part of a grain salad or served at room temperature. Cumin seeds, scallions, red cayenne pepper, and lemon make for some strong flavors in this Indian-inspired dish. Get the recipe here.
11. Sweet and Sour Beans
You can use any type of beans with this recipe and adjust the amount of liquid depending on how soupy you want the beans to turn out. Additional spice like marjoram, thyme, and black pepper taste great with the tomato paste, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, and apple cider vinegar base – make a big batch and freeze the extra portions. Get the recipe here.
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.