The Single Ingredient You Need For More Filling Baked Beans

Skillet of baked beans
Skillet of baked beans - Candice Bell/Getty Images

Next to hamburgers, hot dogs, and homemade potato salad, baked beans are a tasty iconic dish most people enjoy. This rich and savory food can be made from many different beans, including kidney, navy, pinto, and great northern varieties. Whether you usually use dried or canned beans, baked beans are slow-cooked or simmered in a thick sauce made from a variety of ingredients like animal fat, maple syrup, and barbecue sauce. Select seasonings like smoked paprika, dried garlic, onion, and mustard are also included. While most people enjoy the delicate flavor balance of sweet and savory baked beans, you may be looking to stretch this favored side dish into a more well-rounded meal. Whether you want baked beans to become a heartier side or the primary focus of your next dinner, ground beef is the ingredient you need.

Baked beans infused with beef are considered a Southern mainstay better known as cowboy beans. Pioneers and ranchers often needed filling meals in a pinch. Traditional baked beans with added ground beef is a flavorful one-pot dish that serves as a rewarding stand-alone meal. While many baked bean recipes already include some form of animal fat or bacon cooked into the base for added flavor, ground beef takes this dish to another level of satisfaction. Ground beef is a simple yet versatile way to give baked beans an added jolt of protein while soaking up the included savory sauce and seasonings to make one hearty, ultra-filling dish.

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How To Incorporate Ground Beef Into Your Next Batch Of Baked Beans

Beans and beef in tomato sauce
Beans and beef in tomato sauce - Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock

Whether you're making baked beans from scratch or using your favorite canned variety, adding ground beef to the mix is quite simple. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Ground beef with less fat works best for this recipe. Instead of the usual 80/20 meat-to-fat variety, aim for 90/10. This way, you don't have to worry about spooning off excess oil as your meat browns over the stove. There are also a few different ways to prepare baked beans with ground beef.

You can make the entire dish over the stove or in the oven with a small amount of residual bacon grease. For extra flavor, cook a few strips of bacon in a skillet or oven-safe casserole and use a bit of the leftover grease to sauté some onion and garlic while simultaneously browning your beef. From here, finish building your homemade baked bean recipe, or add canned baked beans and some extra sauces and seasonings to your meat base. Continue to simmer the beans over your stove or cook in your oven-safe dish for an easy hamburger baked bean casserole.

If you prefer to prep this upgraded recipe ahead of time, cook the beef in advance until browned and store it in your refrigerator until you're ready to use it. Mix cooked ground beef into your baked bean recipe 15 to 20 minutes before serving so the ingredients can meld together.

Creative Ways To Upgrade Baked Beans With Ground Beef

Cowboy beans with cheese and peppers
Cowboy beans with cheese and peppers - Angelika Heine/Getty Images

Since baked beans made with ground beef are super simple to put together, you have a few different ways to make this dish even more delicious and filling. To add more flavor, consider infusing more aromatic veggies from the start. Next to onion and garlic, sauté bell peppers or jalapeños for extra flavor and spice. Upgrade your sauce base by choosing from a wide range of additional ingredients. Besides the usual barbecue sauce, mustard, and even ketchup, sweeten your beans with a bit of molasses or brown sugar. For an extra smoky taste, try adding a bit of liquid smoke.

To make everybody's favorite baked beans with ground beef even more satisfying, pair this dish with hearty extras. For added bulk, serve beans over brown or white rice or pasta. Alternatively, serve beans over broken corn muffins or thick pieces of wholegrain toast. You can also include several toppings for added color and texture. Add a sprinkle of chopped green onions, cilantro, or fresh parsley for a dose of freshness. Sliced avocado is a great option when you want a more substantial topping. This fruit's extra fiber and fat will keep you full for longer. Feel free to also incorporate your favorite cheese for added flavor. Baked beans made with ground beef prove to be a versatile and fulfilling dish that can be enjoyed any time of day.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.