The 2 Meats You Need To Give Canned Baked Beans A Classic Upgrade

You might prefer to make slow cooker baked beans from scratch to serve with grilled meats and other sides like coleslaw, but there's a case for using canned baked beans to make meal prep easier. There are countless varieties of canned baked beans on grocery store shelves, but even your favorite brand can use an upgrade. Easy upgrades can be a spoonful of brown sugar or a dash of hot sauce, but bacon and bratwursts are two ingredients that will give the dish a meaty flavor that will make you go back for a second helping.

It's a classic upgrade for canned baked beans because some recipes for homemade versions of the dish commonly incorporate bacon or sausage for more flavor. The two ingredients will infuse the beans with the flavors of pork, giving the dish a dose of umami. Sausages, including brats, contain various spices like nutmeg and coriander, so the canned baked beans will get even more flavor in addition to the meatiness. This ingredient hack can also transform canned baked beans from a side dish into a complete meal, or at least make them more satisfying for any meat lover.

Cook the bacon and bratwursts first for crispier results

Three slices of bacon are enough for each can of baked beans. Cut raw bacon into bite-sized pieces, then add to the top of the beans in a baking dish. The bacon will cook while the beans warm, and all of that delicious fat will seep into the beans for even more flavor. For more crunch, cook the bacon first like you would for breakfast or to make our sweet heat BLT sandwich, then stir the pieces into the baked beans. Use any extra bacon as a garnish.

When it comes to the bratwursts, use up to a pound and cook them whole in a pan or cut them into smaller pieces first. Cook the sausage in the bacon fat to really amp up the flavor. Add diced onions, minced garlic, jalapeños, or bell peppers to the pan with the sausage to add more flavor and texture. You can also use any other type of sausage that you already have in the fridge. After the bacon and brats are prepared, bake them in the oven or heat them on the stovetop. If you don't already have a can of baked beans in the pantry, check out Tasting Table's ranking of the best brands of baked beans before you go buy your next can.