Slow Cooker BBQ Beans Recipe

I love barbecue beans from a can, but at $2.30 each (and our big family needing TWO cans for a meal), it's just not in the budget.  I have been experimenting with bean recipes that I can make myself, and I have been really disappointed in many of them.  Either they taste too much like "catsup", they cost more than the canned goods to make, or they seem like a lot of work.  This one, however, I adapted from a few older recipes I can across, and it turned out delicious!

Note: I made these from old pinto beans.  What's old?  Well, let's just say these were leftover from someone's Y2K stash.  Yes, Y2K.  If you're not familiar, look it up.  Meanwhile, this dish was perfect after lengthening the cooking time and letting the final product sit overnight in the fridge before serving.

I made this recipe to serve 8 people for 2 meals.  Not side dishes.  Actual meals.  You can use half or a third of the ingredients for a smaller batch, but it's just as much work.  You might as well make a HUGE batch and freeze some.

You will need:
  • 8 cups dried pinto beans
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 tablespoons dark corn syrup (you can also use molasses)
  • 1/2 pound cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 1 pound browned ground beef

Start by soaking your beans overnight.  I do this in a big soup kettle.  Fill the kettle with the beans, then cover with water.  The next day, you can pick off any "floaties" that came off the beans.

Now you can let the beans simmer for one hour on medium heat, in the same water you soaked them in.  While this is going on, saute the red onions in the hamburger and bacon.  If you haven't already cooked the hamburger or bacon, you can do so now.  (I like to bake my bacon in the oven on 350 heat; it makes the slices crisp!)

After the beans have simmered, and the onion mixture is nice and soft, add the beans, water, and onion mixture to a large slow cooker (5 quarts or larger.)  Add the remaining ingredients.

Let the entire thing cook for 8 hours on high, or 10-12 hours on low.  Keep monitoring the beans to be sure that they stay moist and that all the water doesn't cook off.  If you see beans becoming "mushy" stop the cooking time.  The beans should be soft, but still a little firm.

You can eat these right away, but I prefer to let the crock cool, then put the whole thing in the fridge overnight.  It's great warmed up in the crock pot again the next day, or you can put the crock in the oven covered with foil. (Most slow cooker lids are NOT oven safe.)

This would be great with cornbread, don't you think?