Canned Baked Beans Will Turn Your Potluck Macaroni Salad Up A Notch

A potluck invitation may have you racking your brain, trying to determine which dish to bring. Should you put in a little more effort and whip up a creamy, cool salad, or stick to a simple, yet beloved classic like baked beans? If you're still deciding, we suggest combining the two — macaroni salad mixed with sweet and savory baked beans will forever be a crowd pleaser.

No warm weather gathering is complete without the rich, tangy taste of a macaroni salad or the savory flavor of baked beans. They're always competing for space on the plate and spilling into one another, so why not put them together at the start? Using canned baked beans is an easy method to punch up a macaroni salad, bringing a smoky touch with every bite of the tender beans. The heady spices in the beans' sauce complement the mayo-based dressing's tanginess, giving it a savory depth.

Picking the right seasonings for a macaroni salad may be a task you don't care to deliberate over, and thankfully the spice-packed baked beans make it easy. Canned baked beans are typically flavored with brown sugar and bacon, bolstered by onion and garlic powder, as well as vinegar, mustard seed, paprika, and turmeric. They come pre-cooked, so all you need to do is drain off some of the sauce so the salad doesn't turn out too watery, and stir the beans in with the macaroni.

Add these ingredients to your baked bean macaroni salad

Baked beans skew rich in flavor, so they're best when paired with bright salad ingredients. Our creamy macaroni salad comes with juicy, fruity flavors from the cherry tomatoes and bell peppers that coax out the honeyed, brown sugar taste from the baked beans. The salad dressing also contains actual honey, along with Dijon mustard and mayo for a smooth but spicy finish. Topped off with chopped celery, this salad offers both chewy textures and satisfying crunch.

While the legumes are a hit with bright flavors, don't forget to include some smoky ones, too. Baked beans have a flavor that was made for Southwest-inspired macaroni salads, and a chipotle dressing is the perfect addition for it. The spicy peppers get a kick from zesty lime, and turn into a smoky dressing with a bite that accentuates baked beans' full-bodied taste. Add charred corn and roasted red peppers into the mix, as well as creamy avocado and chopped red onions.

For a bulkier dish, add baked beans to chicken macaroni salad. The recipe is filled with tangy ingredients, with black olives, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar making an appearance. To mesh with the flavor of baked beans, season your chicken with brown sugar, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. You can stick with regular baked beans to amp up the meaty flavor, or opt for a vegetarian version so the focus stays mainly on the taste of the poultry.