The Best Baked Beans slow-cooked in a naturally thick brown sugar molasses sauce with a tangy and sweet smoky hickory barbecue flavor.A classic barbecue side dish to serve at picnics using dried navy beans, molasses, brown sugar, hickory smoke flavor, apple cider vinegar, water, and bacon.
Fill a large pot with water. Pour in navy beans, cover top, and soak for 8-12 hours. I soak mine overnight.
Drain beans, rinse to remove excess starch, discard water. In a large stockpot, bring 8 cups water and beans to a boil. Reduce heat to slow boil; cook 1½ hours uncovered. More water may be added if needed.
Drain beans over bowl; save cooked bean water. Return beans to an oven-safe stockpot or a large oven-safe casserole dish.
Stir in brown sugar, mustard powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and minced garlic. If using a raw onion instead, save to cook with bacon.
Stir in hickory smoke, molasses, maple syrup, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and water.
Bake in 300°F oven for 2 hours, uncovered.
Cook bacon on stovetop until light brown color but not crispy then cut into chunks. Drain bacon grease into bowl. If using a raw onion, cook for 2-3 minutes then add to pot.
Stir ½ cup cooked bean water, 3 tbsp bacon grease, and bacon into pot.
Cook uncovered for 1 hour, stirring halfway through baking.
TIP: Add more water for a less thick sauce or bake a little longer to make the sauce thicker.