Not your typical barbecue beans. That’s what we think of this easy barbecue beans recipe that yields a slightly spicy side dish with none of the cloying sweetness of canned barbecue beans.

Perfect for a backyard barbecue with all the classics, whether BBQ ribs or slow cooker pulled pork or smoked brisket and, if you’re in some parts, slaw and white bread and pickles. These beans also work just as well all on their own—sorta a poor man’s chili with a little extravagance in the form of a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cheese.–David Leite

Barbecue Beans FAQs

Can I freeze barbecue beans?

This recipe makes a lot of beans, which is great if you’re feeding a lot of hungry mouths, but leftovers are pretty easy to deal with as well. Freeze the leftovers in resealable plastic bags and gently reheat over low heat.

The texture of the beans becomes even creamier and the flavor turns even more robustly harmonious. Our managing editor, Angie, already has plans to make a batch to freeze just for camping. Smart, right?

What is bean seasoning?

Bean seasoning, or pinto bean seasoning, can be found in most grocery stores but is simple enough to throw together with ingredients you probably have at home. It generally contains salt, cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, and a bit of salt – but the spices can vary depending on what brand you buy. Badia makes a good blend, but a quick google search will take you where you need to go for a homemade version.

Can I make these beans in a slow cooker?

Sure, but be sure to come by and stir them now and then. Set your slow cooker to low, and start your beans early. They’ll need 8 or more hours to get to the right consistency with the low-and-slow method. You can set your slow cooker on medium or high as well but will need to keep a close eye on the liquid levels and stir more frequently.

A cardboard food container filled with barbecue beans surrounded by ribs, pickles, and shredded meat.

Barbecue Beans

4.67 / 3 votes
These barbecue beans are made from dried beans and seasoned with garlic and onion powder, cumin, and chili powder. They're cooked low and slow for the most tender beans we've tried.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories343 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time7 hours 15 minutes


For the bean seasoning mix

  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

For the barbecue beans

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup bean seasoning
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 cup chopped store-bought or Homemade Smoked Brisket , (this is an excellent way to use the tough outer edges of smoked brisket)


Make the bean seasoning mix

  • Combine all the ingredients and mix well. You should have about 1 cup. Store in an airtight container.

Make the barbecue beans

  • Combine the beans, onion, 1/2 cup bean seasoning, and water in a large pot and let soak at room temperature for as little as 4 hours and as long as overnight.
  • Add the brisket to the soaked beans, slide the pot onto the stovetop, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and gently cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the beans are tender. Taste and, if desired, add more salt. Let cool slightly prior to ladling into bowls or onto plates.

Adapted From

Franklin Barbecue

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 343 kcalCarbohydrates: 56 gProtein: 22 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 2 gCholesterol: 18 mgSodium: 710 mgFiber: 16 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Aaron Franklin | Jordan Mackay. Photo © 2015 Wyatt McSpadden. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This was an extremely easy way to get smoky, tender barbecue beans. Because of all the chile powder, the beans do pack some heat, but I found that the spiciness of the beans really complemented the creamy texture.

I soaked the beans overnight and simmered them for 3 1/2 hours. They were very tender and creamy at this point, although there was quite a bit of liquid still in the pot. As I was making smoked meat at the same time as the beans, I waited until the last 1/2 hour to add the meat, but it still imparted a nice smoky flavor to the beans.

They made a lot so I froze half of the recipe. I thawed the frozen half and heated them up tonight. They were SO amazing! They softened and got a little creamier. And that smoky chili flavor combined with the peppery bite and almost-too-salty edge had us swooning.

I’ll be making these again! Next time I might just freeze the whole batch. #campingmadeeasy

Beans are always a hit and this recipe is a rustic pot of flavorful beans! I’ve always used ham hock or a ham bone with pinto beans, but the brisket was a new satisfying way to go and also a way to use the tough outer bark of the brisket.

I’m at a high altitude so my beans took almost 4 hours to get tender. They still held their shape very well. We enjoyed the smoky barbecue beans with buttermilk cornbread and green onions. My husband is ready for the beans again anytime soon!

These barbecue beans are definitely a tester’s choice. I’ve been making beans for years, like most of us, and have never soaked my beans in the spices. This is a new way for me to prepare beans and I am hooked.

I made this to use up some brisket and burnt ends I had leftover while visiting family in Kansas City. I soaked the beans overnight and then cooked them for about 4 hours. They went from really al dente to finished rather quickly although I don’t think you have to watch them so closely in order to pull them off the heat at just the right moment. I don’t think they would overcook for quite a while.

I took a chance and made these barbecue beans for the first time for a dinner party I’m having tonight and I just tasted them. So incredible and so much better than I even imagined they would be. They have such a great depth of flavor and just the right amount of spice.

One note, I used 2 tablespoons of salt and it was still on the verge of almost being too salty for my taste. I suggest halving the salt and adding more to taste.

I soaked my beans overnight and cooked them in a covered Dutch oven. I purchased some smoked chopped brisket from my local Whole Foods. The beans came out perfectly!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Hi Thomas, I am so sorry that you found this too salty and spicy. Our testers loved the flavor so I am wondering if it is just a personal taste issue? I think that you are correct in listening to your taste buds and reducing the seasoning on your next batch. Please let us know how it turns out and whether it is more to your liking.

    1. One of my issues with salt in recipes is using volume instead of weight. Most folks see Kosher salt in a recipe and use Mortons or Diamond or sea salt or even table salt without regard to which one weighs more per given volume.

      When a measurement for salt is given without specifying the type or brand, I always start with half the amount specified and adjust as needed.

      Digital Scales are cheap and are an essential kitchen tool in my opinion and can help give a more consistent result.

      I look forward to making this recipe soon with leftovers from the brisket that’s cooking in my smoker as I type this.

      1. Keith, I completely agree with you. That’s why we have the weight in grams and the particular brand of salt, in this case Diamond. Hope you have a great Fourth, and hope you enjoy the recipe.

  2. 4 stars
    Recipe is great but as others have said, too salty, just add a little and you can add later if needed, otherwise this is a great way to make them. I put them on the BBQ as I smoked the brisket all day and kept adding water so I got extra smokey beans and it helped keep my brisket moist while cooking.

    1. Brilliant trick on putting them on the grill, John! Many thanks for sharing a terrific technique.

  3. These look so good, when I went to make them I realized I was out of chili powder, so being from the south I did a sub of Cajun seasoning and Slap your Mama seasoning…I also used smoked sausage…great Cajun barbecue beans.