These Secret Ingredient Baked Beans are sweet, smoky, spicy and the perfect barbecue side dish! Nobody will guess the secret ingredient! 

Secret Ingredient Baked Beans a 11Kansas City is home to some of the world’s best barbecue, and the sides at our barbecue joints aren’t slouches, either! So, you could reasonably expect that our culinary institute would make some of the best baked beans around. 

This recipe is adapted from the Kansas City Culinary Institute, and it is absolutely perfect. There is a secret ingredient in it that gives the beans incredible complex flavor and a vibrant color, and nobody will believe you when you tell them what it is!

My husband recently turned the big 3-0! We celebrated like we’ve done every year for the past 5 years, by throwing a crawfish boil with our closest friends and his parents. It’s become an annual holiday. For some of the guys, it’s right there with Thanksgiving and Christmas!CrawfishCollage1

This is such an easy party to throw together. The issue is, that most of the ladies (including myself), don’t care for crawfish. So really, we plan two menus. A super easy boiled crawfish, corn and potatoes for the guys, and typically hamburgers and a few sides for the rest of us. 


I put together some baked beans for the crew and our kiddos (can you believe how many BOYS our little group of friends has made?) I used a recipe I found from the Kansas City Culinary Institute..The problem with the original recipe was that it called for Liquid Smoke, an entire half cup. I don’t care for Liquid Smoke, but I knew if I removed it, I’d have to replace the smoky flavor through other ingredients. I did this with Worcestershire sauce, smoked bacon and a few spices. Okay, are you ready? 

First, bacon and onion are sauteed for around 10 minutes. Then, the cans of pork and beans and brown sugar are added, as well as the super secret ingredient, Cherry Pie Filling! Did you guess it? Finally, spices and Worchestershire sauce are added to provide heat and smoky flavor. The beans are baked in the oven for one hour, or feel free add to the crock pot and cook on low for several hours. Your family will LOVE these beans, and they are a great, easy addition for your next potluck. 

Secret Ingredient Baked Beans a 12

You will need cherry pie filling for this recipe. Add it to your Amazon cart here! 

Secret Ingredient Baked Beans

Secret Ingredient Baked Beans

Yield: Serves 7-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A super secret ingredient gives these beans the perfect blend of sweet, savory and smoky flavors.


  • 3 slices hickory or apple smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 16-ounce cans of pork and beans
  • 16-ounces cherry pie filling
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add in small increments to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add bacon and onion to large pot. Saute on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add pork and beans, brown sugar, pie filling, spices and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Transfer into 9x13'' pan and bake in oven for one hour at 350 degrees.


  • I use a dutch oven so that I can transfer directly from stove top to oven.
  • You can also choose to transfer into a crock pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Please, don't do this until you have sauteed the bacon and onions! If you just add all of the ingredients into the crock pot, the raw onions overtake the dish.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 10
Amount Per Serving Calories 344Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 16mgSodium 896mgCarbohydrates 70gFiber 11gSugar 17gProtein 11g

The nutrition for this recipe is calculated by an app and may be incorrect.

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