Wondering how to make maple baked beans but don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen? I used to think this was the only way – rendering out pork and slow cooking dried beans (hoping I remembered to soak them!). The only alternative to this laborious process seemed to be heating up a can of pre-cooked baked beans. Then I tried this recipe and everything changed!
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make homemade baked beans, and the flavor wasn’t even comparable to the canned variety. It’s great to be able to customize what you put into it. So many canned beans use a so-called “secret recipe,” but when you look at the ingredients list it’s filled with everything you already have in the pantry – beans, tomatoes, sugar, and spices.
And then there’s all the stuff you would never put in your own cooking – caramel color, modified corn starch, and high fructose corn syrup. No thanks to any of that!
So let’s take a look at what we chose to put into our favorite recipe. Before long, you’ll know how to make maple baked beans like a pro!
Using Canned Beans
Okay, okay, I know I just went on a rant about how canned baked beans are filled with all kinds of bad stuff. So why are we recommending you use canned navy beans? Because they significantly speed up the cooking process.
Baked beans and refried beans may have a lot of additives, but normal canned beans are not the enemy (especially the low-sodium varieties). These pantry staples can be the difference between a quick weeknight meal and ordering takeout.
Some baked bean recipes use kidney beans, which are dark in color and rich in flavor. We like using navy beans here because they’re smooth in texture but have a dense feel so they’ll hold up well when simmering with acidic tomatoes. They have a mild flavor on their own, which means they’ll really soak up all that delicious maple syrup flavor.
Always Opt for Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup definitely costs more than the bottles labeled “pancake syrup,” but you should definitely spring for the cost.
Pure maple syrup comes from the sap from a maple tree. Maple syrup makers boil that sap down to concentrate the flavors and give it a syrupy, sugary flavor. What makes it so expensive is how much sap it takes – ten gallons of maple sap only makes one quart of syrup!
Pancake syrup, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It’s mostly made up of sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) with added color and flavoring. Say hello to caramel coloring and maple extract. No thanks!
What’s the Deal with Grade A or Grade B Maple Syrup?
Now that you’ve decided to go for pure maple syrup, let’s take a look at the grades. You may be used to seeing these grades on syrup labels. Even though the USDA changed the standard grades back in 2015, they’re still on many labels.
In the past, grade B syrup had a darker, more intense flavor than grade A syrups (making it my personal choice). Now, all syrup is grade A. Each grade A has an additional type that disguises its flavor. They divided the grade A into golden color/delicate taste, amber color/rich taste, and dark color/robust taste. Grade B was changed to dark color/strong taste.
Any grade will work, it’s just a matter of personal preference. And while most baked bean recipes skip the maple syrup and use brown sugar instead, we disagree. We like using maple syrup because it adds a great depth of flavor.
Maple syrup will contribute to your daily intake of sugars just like regular sugar, but it has added vitamins and minerals that normal sugar doesn’t have. It’s a great source of manganese and riboflavin, aiding in brain and nerve function as well as helping your body’s metabolic process.
Bringing the Flavors Together
After infusing the beans with the rich flavor of maple syrup, we finish them by adding brown mustard for a little bit of spice, apple cider vinegar for a bit of tang, and Worcestershire. Worcestershire is kind of like a secret ingredient in my house. It adds umami (the Japanese word for “savory”) which really helps to bring all the other flavors together.
We can’t wait to hear how you like this recipe! Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned baked beans again after eating these, but I’d love to know what you think. Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know how they turned out.
How to Make Maple Baked Beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely choppe
- 15 ounces navy beans canned, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces crushed tomatoes canned
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- In a large sauce pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent stirring often.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. If beans become too think, more water can be added until the desired consistency is reached. Serve and enjoy!