Bourbon Is The Boozy Ingredient You Need For The Ultimate Baked Beans

Whether you're using a can of Bush's or cooking them down from scratch, baked beans are a cookout classic. If you're a frequent consumer of these savory-sweet beans and need a fresh new way to enjoy them, consider adding bourbon to your next batch of baked beans.

Not only does bourbon give your baked beans a downhome campfire appeal, but it also transforms them by giving them an exciting new depth of flavor. Bourbon has a deceptively complex flavor profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and peppery spices that, when added to your favorite baked beans recipe, provides an exciting contrast to the heartiness of the beans while intermingling with its whispers of sweetness. Plus, alcohol is known to enhance the entire tapestry of flavors in a dish, highlighting the subtleties of the spices, herbs, and seasonings you prepare your baked beans with. It's not just the beans that benefit from the booze, if you're adding additional proteins like bacon or pork to your baked beans, the bourbon can help tenderize the meat while imparting a gentle smokiness that integrates with the savory, brawny undertones of the meat. What's not to love?

If you're worried about an unwelcomed boozy taste lingering in your beans, don't fret, a significant portion of the alcohol content is reduced once the bourbon is cooked down, and the longer you cook it, the more the bite of the alcohol is mitigated.

Picking the right bourbon

When it comes to selecting the proper pour for your baked beans, you'll want to consider a few details before picking out which bourbon you use in your recipe.

A general rule of thumb for cooking with bourbon, and alcohol in general, is that if you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't cook with it. If you cook with a low-quality bourbon you'll be left with low-quality flavors. Select a bottle of bourbon with a flavor profile that harmonizes with the desired taste of your baked beans by paying attention to its sweetness, smokiness, and overall complexity, ensuring that it complements rather than overpowers the other ingredients in your recipe.

The good news is that high-quality bourbon doesn't have to break the bank, so there's no need to spend hundreds of dollars on extravagant bourbon bottles to achieve a vibrant bourbon machismo in your baked beans. Our guide for the best bourbons to buy has plenty of budget-friendly options that still taste great.

Best pairings

Now that we've convinced you to include bourbon in your next batch of baked beans, you'll need some complementary pairings to go with it. A classic choice is to serve your bourbon-infused baked beans alongside grilled meats, such as smoky barbecue ribs or charred sausages, whose rich, umami-centric flavors will thrive alongside the intricate notes of bourbon.

For a more vibrant and fresh contrast, consider adding a side of southern coleslaw with a tangy vinaigrette. The crisp crunch of the slaw provides a pleasant textural balance to the hearty beans, while the acidity of the vinaigrette cuts through the richness of the bourbon-infused sauce.

Of course, you can never go wrong with cornbread or freshly baked biscuits as a side dish. The sweet, flaky, and buttery goodness of the bread enhances the overall comfort-food appeal, not to mention that they're perfect for sopping up every last bit of the flavorful bourbon sauce.

To round out the meal, a refreshing salad with bright greens and a zesty dressing can add a burst of freshness, making your bourbon-infused baked beans a standout centerpiece for any feast. Whichever way you choose to make your baked beans, as long as you're adding a little bit of bourbon, your tastebuds will thank you.