Slow cooked apple butter baked beans with bacon ~ if you can say that (or think that) without drooling, you’re just not human! This is the best fall side dish ever, think bonfires, tailgating, game days, and cozy family meals.
apple butter baked beans with bacon in the slow cooker!
This amazing recipe is a variation on a Midwest favorite, apple pie baked beans. But instead of using canned apple pie filling, I’m slow cooking my baked beans with fresh apples, onion, rich apple butter, and crispy bacon. It’s one of those recipes you just know is going to be good. And it is.
The gentle heat of the slow cooker (on HIGH or LOW depending on how much time you have) is just perfect for these beans. The onions and apples get perfectly tender and nothing scorches. The hands-off aspect is so luxurious. Every time I make them I’m reminded of how much I love the slow cooker ~ too bad it’s been eclipsed by the air fryer and Instant Pot, it definitely has a place in every kitchen.
what you’ll need
- a big can of your favorite baked beans. I suggest a plain variety (we’ll do the doctoring!) I used Bush’s Original Baked Beans in a hefty 3 lb 7 oz can.
- apple butter
- apple butter is the secret to this fabulous recipe…it takes baked beans over the top! Use any brand you like.
- any type of apple, it doesn’t matter.
- fry it until crisp. You’re going to add half to the beans before cooking, then add the remaining bacon at the end as a garnish.
- yellow onion
- the onion mellows out some of the sweetness from the apples and apple butter.
how to make apple butter baked beans in the crock pot
1. Put baked beans, bacon, chopped onions, chopped apple, and apple butter in the slow cooker.
You can chop your apples and onions finely, or leave them a little chunky, it’s your call.
2. Give everything a good stir.
That’s the extent of your work, now sit back and relax 🙂
3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
You can also set the machine to low and let them go for 6 hours if that suits your schedule better.
4. Add a touch of apple cider vinegar, stir, and enjoy!
The beans will need stirring to bring everything together. The sauce will seem a bit thin at first but will thicken as you stir. The little splash of apple cider vinegar is a pop of acidity that really helps bloom the flavors.
want to get fancy (on the cheap?)
Throw in some browned sausages or brats, even hot dogs, cut up, or whole. How about little smokies? You’ll have a feast in one pot! Add some great cornbread and maybe some slaw and you’re golden.
little tweaks you can make to these beans
These are just suggestions, find one or two that suits your particular taste. I do recommend tasting the beans first before making changes.
- add a cinnamon stick to the beans before cooking.
- for an added pop of acidity, try a tiny bit of cider vinegar.
- needs some umami? Try a bit of Worcestershire sauce.
- for added sweetness, use more of the apple butter. You can also use 1/4 cup brown sugar or some molasses, to taste.
- Add a minced jalapeño or two for heat.You could also use a little cayenne pepper.
- In place of the apples and apple butter you can use a can of apple pie filling! This is not to my taste, but apple pie baked beans is a popular dish in the Midwest.
How are you going to use your apple butter baked beans?
If you ask me these beans make a meal in themselves, I’d just add some cornbread and coleslaw.
Of course these beans go with any kind of barbecue in the world. Burgers, brats, and dogs for sure, and ribs. Definitely ribs!
We love them with fried or baked chicken.
Serve these upgraded baked beans with ham, or any pork, for that matter.
Don’t forget ~ beans are part of a classic breakfast with toast and eggs. I love them with my Perfect Egg Tartines.
Slow Cooked Apple Butter Baked Beans
- slow cooker (optional)
- 1 lb bacon
- 3lb 7 oz can baked beans
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1-2 apples, peeled and diced
- ½ lb (half of a 16 ounce jar) apple butter, or up to the whole jar for sweeter beans.
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, or more to taste.
- Cook the bacon until crisp, and reserve the fat. Chop the bacon.
- Add the beans, onion, apple, apple butter, half the chopped bacon, and 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon fat to your crock pot. Give it all a stir to mix.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours. You can also cook on low for 6 hours.
- Open the lid and give everything a good stir. Add the cider vinegar and taste. The sauce will seem a little thin at first, but will thicken as you stir it, and as it sits with the lid off. I like to take the lid off for the last 1/2 hour of cooking.
- Serve the beans topped with the remaining bacon.
Questions and Reviews
I made this with the apple butter I had in the pantry, one with whiskey that I found on our travels. Memorable! Thanks for another keeper!
I’m SO glad you liked this Niki, it’s a personal fave of mine.
Could overnight soaked pinto beans be subbed for canned?3-4 hours on high seems like they would be fine in my Crockpot brand slow cooker since I don`t own a instant pot.My concern is that canned would fall apart.Thanks.
I wouldn’t use just plain dried beans, you’d have to completely reformulate the recipe for that. The canned beans hold up just fine, and you can shorten the cooking time if you like ~ you’re only cooking the onions and apples, the rest just needs to be heated through.