Cast Iron Skillet Baked Beans

An easy recipe for baked beans in a cast iron skillet: one dish, lots of flavor.

The one essential tip for success? Don’t rush the baking process. Slow baking allows flavors to meld beautifully, resulting in beans that are not just a side dish but the star of any meal. The best part? You’ll only have one pan to wash: your trusty cast iron goes from stovetop to oven to dining table.

The final dish of baked beans served in the cast iron skillet, presenting a hearty and inviting appearance.

Cast Iron Skillet Baked Beans

Simple canned beans made delicious with bacon and barbecue sauce, then baked in a cast iron skillet. Your new favorite baked beans.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Serving Size 8

Equipment

  • 10 inch cast iron skillet

Ingredients 

  • 4 slices bacon diced
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • ½ cup green pepper finely diced
  • 2 large cans pork and beans (usually 23.8 ounces each)
  • cup barbecue sauce a sweet brand like Sweet Baby Ray's
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 300 degrees with the rack in the center.
  • Cook the bacon and the veggies. Cook the bacon, onion, and green pepper in a medium cast iron skillet (about 8 inches wide) until the bacon is mostly cooked and the onions and peppers are soft. There is no need to drain any grease, but you can if it seems like too much.
    A cast iron skillet with diced bacon, onion, and green pepper, just beginning to cook.
  • Add beans. Add the canned pork and beans and stir well to combine.
    All ingredients in the skillet are combined.
  • Add mix-ins. Add all flavorings and stir well. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar or barbecue sauce if desired.
    the addition of barbecue sauce and seasonings to the beans, onions, and peppers.
  • Bake. Bake, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until beans are well-browned. The beans should be bubbling around the edges and have a deep, caramelized color on top. Serve directly from pan.
    The baked beans after being cooked, with a rich, caramelized top layer formed during the baking process

Notes

This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13 x 9 baking dish.

You want baked beans that feel a little more special tha opening a can. And yet…soaking beans and cooking them all day feels like a bit much for a simple side dish.

baked beans in skillet next to red and white napkin

No worries, these cast iron skillet baked beans are the perfect combination of easy and delicious. They are canned beans made special with everyday ingredients and just a few minutes of hands-on time. (If you love the idea of homestyle side dishes in a skillet, you’ll love cast iron mac and cheese too!)

Baked Bean Tips

  • Bean Variety: While pork and beans are traditional, feel free to experiment with different types of canned beans to find your preferred taste and texture.
  • Consistent Heat: Baked beans love steady, consistent heat. Avoid opening the oven too much, as temperature fluctuations can affect the thickening of the sauce.

Key Ingredients and Tools

A few standout ingredients take this comforting classic to the next level.

canned beans, onion, pepper, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar
  • Bacon. Located at the meat section, its smokiness infuses the beans with a depth of flavor that’s irreplaceable.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Found in the condiments aisle, it cuts through the sweetness and brings a necessary tang to the dish.
  • Dijon Mustard. This can be found among other mustards and condiments, and it adds a complex, sharp taste that brightens the beans without overpowering them.

Don’t substitute the vinegar or mustard with milder versions if you can help it. They’re the secret to the beans’ bold flavor.

Cast Iron Skillet (10-12 inches). The size matters here; a 10-12 inch skillet will ensure there’s enough room for the beans to cook evenly and develop that desirable thick, caramelized topping.

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet on hand, that’s okay too. Here are a few things that can work just as well:

  • Deep-Dish Pie Plate. A 9-inch deep-dish pie plate can be a great alternative, offering similar depth for the beans to cook and the flavors to meld together.
  • Oven-Safe Saute Pan. If it’s oven-proof and around 10-12 inches, a sauté pan can double as a baking dish for your beans.
  • Casserole Dish. A standard 9×13 casserole dish can also work, though the beans may cook slightly faster due to the increased surface area. You can also double the recipe to compensate

While a cast iron skillet is ideal, these alternatives can still deliver delicious baked beans. Make sure whichever dish you choose is both oven-safe and offers enough depth for the beans to bake comfortably without overflowing.

Serving Suggestions

For a classic Southern dinner, serve these with buttermilk fried chicken and homemade lemonade. For a super easy meal, make hot dogs and creamy coleslaw.

Troubleshooting and Help

I’m a vegetarian. Can I leave out the bacon?

Sure thing! The bacon adds a smoky flavor, but you can substitute it with a bit of liquid smoke or smoked paprika.

My beans are too runny. What do I do?

Give them time. Beans thicken up as they cool, so let them sit for a bit after baking. If they’re still runnier than you like, pop them back in the oven for a little longer.

These are easy and flexible. Don’t overthink it!

Storing Leftovers

These are best t he day they’re made, but reheat just fine.

In the Fridge:

Once they’ve cooled down, transfer them into an airtight container and pop them in the refrigerator. They’ll stay fresh and delicious for up to 4 days.

Freezing:

While you can freeze baked beans, the texture might change a bit once thawed. They tend to become a little softer, but they’ll still be tasty.

Just be sure to use a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to enjoy them, let them thaw in the fridge overnight and then gently reheat them in the microwave or stovetop.

More Classic Sides to Love

I picked these because they’re classic favorites for Sunday dinner or for having people over.

With tips and tricks to guide you, and alternatives for those without a cast iron skillet, this recipe is designed to be foolproof and flexible. Remember, the best dishes aren’t just about following a recipe to the letter, but about making it work for you and your kitchen.

Cast Iron Skillet Baked Beans

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