Slow Cooker Baked Beans for a Crowd

It is almost the 4th of July and in our family that means large gatherings with lots of food and fireworks. These easy baked beans are the perfect side dish to hamburgers and hot dogs, smoked brisket, or pulled pork. They take a little advanced planning, but are worth the small extra effort. It makes a very large batch, perfect for large gatherings or pot luck suppers.

Technique is very important in this recipe. You want to layer the ingredients according to the recipe and DO NOT STIR until the last hour or two of cooking. You start with a layer of bacon on the bottom. The bottom of a slow cooker heats up first. By having all the bacon on the bottom, you ensure that the fat renders and it will rise through the beans flavoring them as it moves up. If you mix in the bacon, the fat will not fully render and you end up with little fatty chunks which are not very appetizing.

I am a girl who uses recipes only for suggestions and I understand the urge to stir in the sauce. Please resist that urge and give this technique a try. I promise the beans will be flavored throughout.

You want to soak the beans at least 12 hours, but they are even better after a 24 hour soak. The beans take 9-10 hours on low and I often cook them overnight then just use my “keep warm” setting on my slow cooker to hold them at a safe temperature until lunch. If I am serving them for dinner, I start them first thing in the morning.

I like to use a blender to mix the sauce. First, it ensures that all the ingredients are well combined. Second, I do not prefer to have little chunks of tomato in my beans. By mixing the sauce in the blender, the crushed tomatoes get a little more pureed and are nice and smooth.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans for a Crowd

2 Pounds Great Northern or Navy Beans (Dried White Beans)

2 Tablespoons Coarse Sea Salt

2 – 28 oz Cans Crushed Tomatoes

1 Cup Water

2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

1 1/2 Pounds Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 Onions, Chopped

The Day Before Cooking

Place dry beans in a large bowl or stockpot and cover with water. Make sure there are a couple of inches of water above the beans. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of salt. Let soak at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

The Night Before or Morning of Serving

Make the sauce. In a blender, mix the crushed tomatoes, water, yellow mustard, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Blend for 1 minute. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a large slow cooker with the chopped bacon. Drain the water from the soaked beans and layer the beans on top of the bacon. Cover the layer of beans with the chopped onions. Finally, pour the sauce over the layers and DO NOT STIR.

Cook on low for 9-10 hours. After 7-8 hours of cooking you can stir the beans. Once beans are fully cooked, you can turn your slow cooker to “keep warm” or “serve” for 2-3 more hours.