BBQ Beans (crockpot)

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Cooking beans in a crockpot is super easy. It’s an effortless hands-off process with a wonderful payoff of delicious saucy beans, which are also freezer friendly. If you haven’t cooked dried beans before, don’t let it intimidate you. Learn about dried beans and how to cook here.


  • 2½ cups great northern or navy dried beans* (1 pkg/450 g/16 oz) 
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Ingredients for the sauce – do not add until after the beans are cooked

  • 1 can tomato paste (156 ml)
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup dark balsamic*
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 – 1½ tsp salt, optional


  1. Sort and wash beans then add them to crockpot along with the water, onions, garlic and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (high for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally).
  2. When beans are tender remove bay leaves and evaluate the amount of cooking water. If it seems excessive, ladle some out and keep it aside in case you want to thin down the sauce.
  3. Add tomato paste, molasses, balsamic vinegar, dry mustard, liquid smoke, and salt. Mix well and return lid to crock pot and allow beans to cook for another 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
  4. If too much liquid remains, allow the beans to cook, uncovered, until liquid evaporates. If leaving for an hour or longer be sure to stir occasionally. Alternatively, if the sauce is too thick, add some of the bean water that you saved.
  5. Enjoy these beans warm or cold. They also freeze well.


  • Save time and money. 3/4 cup of dried beans will cook up to be equivalent to 1 can. One 450 g/ 1 lb package will cook up to be equivalent to 5 cans of beans. It takes the same amount of time to cook 3/4 cup beans as it does to cook one package. Then portion and freeze.
  • BBQ Calico Beans use a mixture of two or three different kind of beans. I like to use red kidney, great northern, and canary beans. Canary beans can be found in Latin food markets. For those of you who are taking my classes canary beans can be found at Paraiso Tropical at 9136-118 Ave NW.
  • I use Costco dark balsamic. For another different but flavorful profile consider using Vermont Maple dark balsamic from Evoolution.