The Canned Fruit That'll Amp Up The Flavor Of Boring Baked Beans

Whether you're prepping for a summer cookout with burgers and hot dogs or want the perfect side for barbecue pork ribs, grilled chicken, or beef brisket, look no further than baked beans. Sure, you can absolutely buy canned baked beans, but why would you? Whether you bake them (as is tradition) in the oven, make slow cooker baked beans, or even simmer your baked beans and bacon on the stovetop, they're pretty straightforward to make. But straightforward doesn't always mean delicious and sometimes baked beans can fall a little flat, especially if you haven't perfected your recipe. This is where a simple canned fruit can make all the difference. Regardless of how you feel about its presence on pizza, canned pineapple is the secret to amped-up baked beans. Seriously!

Baked beans typically have some sort of added sweetness in the form of brown sugar, molasses, or a sweetened barbecue sauce. Incorporating canned pineapple (and even its juices) into a homemade sauce for your baked beans is a great way to get that sweetness while adding an unexpected fruitiness that will make your beans stand out at the picnic. Pineapple is also great for balancing the heat in baked beans so you can add all the flavorful spice of chili peppers without making it too hot for your guests (or yourself). 

Pineapple is a great textural foil for beans

Because we already know that pineapple and pork are a match made in heaven, baked beans with bacon, ham, or even pulled pork are a great canvas for the addition of the sweet tropical fruit. The type of canned pineapple you use, however, may depend on what you're looking for both texturally and flavor-wise in your baked beans.

If you opt for crushed pineapple, removing the juice will be difficult so you may end up with a sweeter pan of baked beans. Using chunks of pineapple, on the other hand, will allow you to not only drain the juice but the bits of pineapple that poke out the top of your beans will get caramelized and delicious in the oven. The beans will also be less sweet, and the chunks of pineapple will offer an exciting texture somewhere between the softness of the beans and the meatiness of whatever protein you add (should you choose to add one). 

In fact, if you'd like to keep your baked beans vegetarian, pineapple is a great way to incorporate a textural element in the beans without using meat, especially since pineapple shreds similarly to jackfruit and can take on savory flavors well. Grilling canned pineapple rings and then shredding them for use in your baked beans will add both a sweet and smoky element to the dish — perfect for your next cookout or barbecue!