The Powerhouse Ingredients You Need To Doctor Up Canned Baked Beans

Baked beans are a hearty and versatile side dish that go great with everything from macaroni and cheese to pulled pork sandwiches to roast chicken. However, making baked beans from scratch is time-consuming, which may deter you from adding them to your repertoire. The good news is that canned baked beans can be just as flavorful and delicious as homemade beans. All you need are a couple of extra ingredients, and you can doctor up canned beans so they taste as good as they would from scratch — in a fraction of the time.


One great thing about canned baked beans is that there is no shortage of ways to give them an extra kick. There's plenty of room for experimentation, as both savory and sweet ingredients make the beans' natural flavor sing. While the possibilities are nearly endless, bacon, onion, chorizo, and even espresso are powerhouse ingredients that are especially great for making your canned beans taste homemade.

Bacon and Onion

An easy way to get your canned baked beans to taste heartier is to add bacon to them. You don't need much of it either, just a few strips cooked in a bit of oil until crispy will do the trick. Chop the bacon up into little bits and crumble them right into the beans before baking. Far from taking center stage and making the dish taste overwhelmingly like bacon, the bits simply enhance the beans' flavor.


Bacon works great if you're going for more of a barbecue style for your beans. You can level-up that barbecue flavor even more by adding caramelized onions. However, the caramelization process takes a little time, which you may be trying to avoid by using canned beans. If you're in a rush, the good news is that sauteed onion, or even just onion powder, will add extra fragrance, sweetness, and umami to your beans and bacon.

Espresso Powder

This might be surprising to some people, but once you try it, you'll understand why espresso is such a popular baked beans addition. It works great with bacon and onion, or you can add it on its own. Just a pinch of espresso powder will add a rich, complex flavor to your canned baked beans. If baked beans and espresso powder seem like an unlikely pair, they have more in common than you think. They both have a bold, earthy flavor. However, their differences also make their union delicious, as the slight bitterness of espresso powder balances the sweetness of the beans, delivering a satisfying contrast.


Espresso is a strong flavor, so start with a small amount and add more as needed. You want the powder to complement the beans, not overwhelm them. For an extra kick, you can experiment with adding brewed coffee to your beans instead of water or broth.

Adobo Sauce and Chorizo

Beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine, used in everything from chilis to stews to tacos to molletes. If you're making a Mexican dish, why not give your canned baked beans a Mexican twist? All you need are a few teaspoons of chipotle adobo sauce and some crumbled chorizo. Your beans will be a little spicy thanks to the adobo sauce and a little smoky thanks to the chorizo. Chorizo is also typically seasoned with garlic and paprika, which will give your beans a layered flavor profile and some irresistible aromatics.


There's no reason canned baked beans have to be boring or bland. If anything, they provide a great opportunity for you to experiment and doctor them up to suit the menu for your cookout or dinner party. With the help of these powerhouse ingredients, you'll be able to save yourself the time you'd spend making beans from scratch without compromising on taste.