Kansas City Style Barbecue Baked Beans

Kansas City Style Barbecue Baked Beans incorporate all of the flavors of Kansas City barbecue – sweet, spicy, tangy, and just a little bit smokey.  Could there be a more perfect side dish for this weekend’s big game? It doesn’t matter who you’re going to cheer for, these beans will be a favorite for both sides. For more authentic barbecue flavor, stir in a bit of your barbecued meat – pulled pork, brisket, or diced sausage.

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Brown crockery full of Kansas City Baked Beans sitting on a blue gingham tablecloth.

My game day menu not only includes these beans, but I’m also serving Burnt Ends (aka Meat Candy), Vinegar Based Cole Slaw, Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad, and Tangy Green Bean Potato Salad. When the food is this good, the game doesn’t seem as important. Do you agree?

What Makes Kansas City Style Barbecue Different?

‘Secret’s in the sauce.’ Extra points if you know and recognize the movie quote!

Kansas City is proud of its thick, rich, and sweet tomato, molasses, and brown sugar-based sauce. Not only do they slather their mouthwatering smoked meats with it, but it’s also added to the baked beans. If you’ve never added molasses to baked beans,  then you’re in for a treat. These beans get a double dose of molasses from adding both KC barbecue sauce (with molasses) and a bit more molasses just for good measure.

Kansas City is also known for barbecuing almost any meat – beef, pork, chicken, sausage, and turkey unlike Texas barbecue, which typically is beef, or Memphis, whose specialty is pork ribs.

Pitmasters in Kansas City use a dry rub to flavor the meat and then slowly smoke it to perfection, slathering the sweet barbecue sauce on towards the end. The dry rub mimics a lot of the same flavors that are in the sauce. The rub is not aggressively spicy, like a Texas dry rub. It’s also less smokey, salty, and herbaceous than a Memphis rub.

Brown sugar, sweet paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, mustard powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne are traditional ingredients in a KC rub. It goes equally well on beef, pork, or poultry. You can find some great rubs in the grocery store or online. It takes about 5 minutes to whip one up at home.

My take on Kansas City Style Barbecue Baked Beans uses canned baked beans to start rather than soaking and cooking dry pinto beans, which makes this recipe incredibly easy. It also incorporates both Kansas City-style sauce and dry rub for real authenticity.

What Ingredients Are Needed?

  • Canned baked beans – I like using Bush’s, but any canned baked beans will work. 
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Dark molasses
  • Barbecue dry rub – use your favorite or make your own.
  • Barbecue sauce – I used KC Masterpiece. Kansas City bbq sauce is sweeter than other types, so keep that in mind when choosing your sauce.
  • Ketchup
  • Apple cider vinegar – this helps balance the sweetness of the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and molasses.
  • Yellow mustard
  • Bacon – for a smokey flavor.  You could also use a cup of chopped barbecued meat. You will want the rendered fat from the bacon to saute the onions and garlic.
  • Onions and garlic – mince the vegetables finely so that they ‘melt’ into the sauce.

Close side view of a brown crock of Kansas City Style Barbecue Baked beans.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp and use the rendered fat to saute the onions and garlic.
  3. Stir together the beans, the onion and garlic mixture, dry rub, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, vinegar, and ketchup in a bowl.
  4. Pour into the casserole dish and bake in the oven until the sauce has reduced and is bubbly.

Tips And Variations

  • Saute the onions and garlic until they’re very soft and caramelized. You want the vegetables to melt into the sauce of the beans and aren’t visible.
  • Spraying the casserole dish with cooking spray will save a ton of time on cleanup.
  • Because we’re starting with canned beans, you can adjust the cooking time to suit your needs or preferences. I like to bake the beans in the oven until the sauce thickens, but for ‘saucier’ results, the beans can be baked just until the flavors blend and the beans are hot.
  • Toss in minced bell pepper, corn, or diced tomatoes to up the nutritional content.
  • Increase the heat by adding minced jalapeno or hot sauce.
  • French’s Crispy Fried Onions or crushed, buttery crackers make a delicious topping if you like a bit of crunch.

Closeup of a brown crock of Kansas City Barbecue Baked Beans and a wooden spoon scooping some out.

Please consider a few of our other barbecue mains and sides:



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Closeup of a brown crock of Kansas City Barbecue Baked Beans and a wooden spoon scooping some out.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Baked Beans

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x


Kansas City Barbecue Beans are sweet, tangy, spicy, and full of barbecue flavor. They’re a perfect side dish for your game-day menu.



4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces

½ sweet onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (16-ounce) cans baked beans, undrained

¾ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup dark molasses

1 tablespoon barbecue dry rub

¾ cup barbecue sauce

¼ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until it begins to crisp – about 7 minutes.

Add the chopped onions and stir to coat with the bacon fat.  Cook, stirring often until the onions are very soft and beginning to caramelize – about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the beans, with their juices, into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar, molasses, dry rub, barbecue sauce, ketchup, vinegar, and mustard.

Add the bacon and onion mixture to the bowl and combine fully.

Pour the bean mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Serve hot.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Kansas City Barbecue Beans, side dish, baked beans, game day eats, KC barbecue, barbecue side dish

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