Food & Drink

Dean Fearing’s Barbecue Beans

Serves 4-6

Campfire Barbecue Beans

We previously shared chef Dean Fearing’s recipe for chili, which appears in his cookbook, The Texas Food Bible. Now, we’re back for a second helping. Any patriotic Texan knows that beans don’t belong in chili, but they sure do taste good alongside burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad. Here’s Fearing’s take on baked beans. The recipe might be a little bit lengthier than most, but it really isn’t much harder to pull off—and it’s worth the extra effort, anyway.


The deep, rich flavor of these beans will take you straight outdoors, with a tin plate on your lap. This is a true Texas side dish—smoky, spicy, and complex, yet simple to pull together. It’s a terrific picnic, barbecue, or party dish!


    • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

    • 1 cup diced smoked bacon

    • 1/2 cup small-diced onion

    • 1/4 cup seeded and minced jalapeño chile

    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

    • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper

    • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage

    • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

    • 1 tsp. ground cumin

    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

    • 1 cup cooked pinto beans

    • 1 cup cooked white beans

    • 1 cup cooked black beans

    • 1 cup cooked red beans

    • 2 cups Texas-style barbecue sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce

    • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth

    • 1 bay leaf

    • Kosher salt, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the bacon and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Stir in the onion, chile, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the black pepper, sage, thyme, cumin, and red pepper flakes and stir to blend. Add the pinto, white, black, and red beans along with the barbecue sauce, stock, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat and cook at a simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is very thick.

  3. Taste and, if necessary, season with salt.

  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

  5. Serve warm as directed in a specific recipe, or as a side dish for any grilled meat, game, poultry, or fish.

Recipe excerpted from the TEXAS FOOD BIBLE by Dean Fearing. © 2014 by Dean Fearing. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.