What makes canned baked beans better? Turn canned beans into something unique and delicious by adding a few inexpensive mix-ins, totally worthy of your next picnic or potluck.

How to doctor up a can of baked beans: Adding a few ingredients can make a plain can of beans into something delicious!

Baked beans are a staple at summer picnics, barbecues and church potlucks. They are the perfect accompaniment to a meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, and watermelon.

Good news: You don’t have to make baked beans from scratch to make really good baked beans.

Rather, you take an already-decent can of baked beans and add a few ingredients to make them really flavorful and delicious.

Keep reading to learn how to make canned baked beans taste better.

What Kind Of Beans Should I Use?

I used a can of Bush’s Maple Cured Bacon, but you can use pretty much any variety/flavor of baked beans.

Just make sure to taste the beans before you start messing with them. You may like the flavor as-is!

How To Improve A Can Of Baked Beans

If you’ve tasted the canned beans and want to make them taste better, here are some potential add-ins to consider:

Fresh vegetables: I like to add some chopped onion, fresh garlic, and chopped red bell pepper to canned beans. Simply chop vegetables, sauté in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes to soften, then add the canned beans.

Sweetener: If you like your baked beans on the sweet side, add a pinch of brown sugar, some maple syrup or honey. Start with a couple of teaspoons and go from there.

Heat: I like my baked beans a bit spicy. If you do too, add some sriracha sauce, hot sauce, chopped hot pepper or cayenne pepper. Add slowly – you can’t take heat away!

Spices: For a more robust pot of beans, add some dry mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, paprika or smoked paprika.

Miscellaneous add-ins: Raid your fridge, and consider adding some barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard or Worcestershire sauce to canned beans.

Meat: Adding meat to baked beans makes them more hearty and meal-worthy. Add some brisket, pulled pork, sausage bacon or even hot dogs. To save money, purchase ready-cooked bacon off the grocery store salad bar.

How Much Should I Add?

The trick is to keep tasting as you go. You don’t want to add too much sweetener or spice, because you can’t take it away.

Heating The Beans

I typically heat beans on the stove top, adding extra ingredients as I go. However, you can heat the beans in the oven or slow cooker. Just add ingredients before baking/heating.

Homemade Baked Bean Recipes

If you want to make baked beans from scratch, here are two recipes to try:

This three-bean hotdish is a great potluck recipe:

Three bean hotdish recipe, from Cheap Recipe Blog

This other recipe is more of a traditional baked bean recipe (below) – the perfect crowd-pleasing recipe for a potluck, picnic or summer BBQ.

Perfect potluck baked beans: A real crowd-pleaser!

Money-saving tip: Before running to the grocery store, inventory your fridge and cupboards. Use what you already have instead of buying more.