Upgrade Your Canned Baked Beans With A Half-Finished Root Beer

A simple can of baked beans is a great pantry staple to keep on hand. These handy legumes are super easy to make, you just have to heat it and eat it, and with its unique blend of flavorful spices, it's also effortlessly delicious. Still, it's always fun to add some new additions to canned goods to upgrade the flavor and make the dish your own. When it comes to baked beans, root beer is a great candidate for the job.


One of the signature flavors of baked beans is its surprising syrupy sweetness. While most people augment those smoky, sweet edges with some brown sugar or molasses, a splash of root beer will work just as well to upgrade a can of baked beans. To make homemade root beer, you only need molasses, water, and spices, so the flavors of the soda will also mesh super well with this side dish, adding in some added deep, sweet, sarsaparilla flavor. The warm, slightly spiced notes of the drink will enhance the similarly rich, tangy sweetness of the baked beans, and also introduce hints of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the mix. Much like adding salt to a dish, the added acidity of the soda will punch up the flavor.


Much like barbecue sauce, baked beans are made of a combination of ingredients both smoky and sweet. So, root beer's similarly sweet and spicy flavors are the perfect complement to this classic cookout side.

Here's how to add root beer to your recipe

While the unique flavors of root beer will certainly complement the flavor of baked beans, there are some things to keep in mind about this addition. For starters, let's talk numbers. Adding too much additional liquid to your beans will leave them too watery, while not adding enough root beer could make the unique addition virtually undetectable. The actual measurements you should use depends on your recipe, but start by adding a few tablespoons at a time to the pot while it's simmering on the stove to taste. Then, if you happen to add too much liquid, don't panic. Simply simmer your pot of beans on the stove for a bit longer than normal so the liquid burns off, leaving a sweet, syrupy burst of added flavor behind.


Next, make sure to always use regular root beer instead of diet. Those artificial sweeteners won't leave behind the same silky, syrupy effects as a regular splash of root beer.

Other ways to elevate baked beans with liquids

While root beer is one underrated addition to baked beans, there are plenty of other options to go around. For starters, consider adding some other similar sodas into the mix. For example, much like root beer, Dr Pepper or Coke have deep, peppery flavors that can further enhance the taste of a can of baked beans. 


Another great way to seriously upgrade baked beans is with a leftover pot of coffee. The bold, rich flavors of your brew can effortlessly augment the smokiness of baked beans. So the next time you consider dumping the rest of your pot down the drain after breakfast, why not just save it for dinner? Finally, adding a splash of whiskey like Jack Daniels into the pot could also have the same positive effects as coffee, adding in some smokiness and spice.

Lastly, there's nothing that a few dashes of hot sauce won't fix, so when in doubt, reach for some Tabasco or Cholula. If you like any of these additions to your baked beans, check out our tips on how to upgrade canned tuna next.