Ultimate BBQ Sides: Cowboy Beans

Cook, Ultimate BBQ Sides

We are gearing up for Memorial Day this weekend, showcasing some of our best outdoor dishes! Baked beans are a classic of many cookouts, but for a twist, try our version  here, which can be cooked in a pot on the grill for new depth of flavor.


Smoke adds a distinctly campfire taste to this frontier classic. Throw in leftover smoked pork, ribs or brisket for a more substantial dish. Make sure the pot you choose will fit under the cover of your grill, or cook the beans in a fire pit or over a campfire, cowboy style. Alternatively, you can cook the beans on the stovetop. Serve as a side dish with plenty of grilled bread for mopping up the sauce.


Cowboy Beans


1/2 lb. thick-cut smoked bacon

1 small yellow onion, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 lb. dried Great Northern or small white beans, picked over, soaked overnight in water to cover and drained

1 cup basic barbecue sauce

1/2 cup tomato ketchup

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. dry mustard

1 Tbs. granulated garlic

1 Tbs. chili powder


If cooking the beans on a grill, prepare a medium fire in the grill.


In a large, heavy-lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat begins to render, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the fat, leaving a few tablespoons in the pot. Add the onion to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, garlic and chili powder. Add enough water to just cover the beans, up to 2 cups, and stir well.


Place the pot on the grill rack over the hottest part of the fire. Or, keep the pot on the burner over medium heat. Partially cover the pot and simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until deep dark brown in color and thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.


For more great grilling adventures, check out Willie Cooper’s book¬†Williams-Sonoma On The Grill.

4 comments about “Ultimate BBQ Sides: Cowboy Beans

  1. Not so Meatless Monday – Mrs. Campbells Homemade Beans « Angies Grapevine

  2. Sarah

    So disappointed! I followed this recipe to a T! My beans never cooked all the way through, after 4 hours of low and slow they still had crunch. The sauce was really good but if I were to do this again. I would boil my beans before adding them.

    1. Williams-Sonoma

      Hi Sarah, we’re sorry the recipe didn’t work out! Assuming the beans were soaked overnight as directed, there could have been one of two problems. Either the temperature was too “low and slow” (the beans should go over the hottest part of the fire and remain at a gentle simmer), or the beans were too old. Dried beans that are old or not stored properly will never soften, no matter how long you cook them, so make sure you replace your stock of beans periodically and purchase them from a store that has a high turnover. Hope this helps!

  3. Best Barbecue Recipes: Baked Beans & Easy Beer Barbecue Sauce - Crosby's Molasses

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