Baked beans are pretty much the staple of summer camp.
They’re even better when they come out of a wood-fired bean hole, but considering that most Yurpers don’t have access to one of those and may not want (or be able to build) their own, it is more practical to cook them in an oven or on an outdoor grill.
The problem with baked beans is that they’re often slightly too watery.
Baked Beans are supposed to be a side dish for meat, so they need to have the consistency of the sauce.
Most people drown their beans in ketchup or mustard, but that’s just masking the problem.
Consistency is as important as the flavor. It’s not good to have watery baked beans that taste just like rice.
You need to ensure that your beans are thick and ripe. You don’t need to be a scientist to get that gorgeous thick consistency.
These simple tricks will help you get there. This article will show you how to thicken your baked beans for the perfect side dish.
Why You Should Thicken Baked Beans?
Baked beans are amazing when they are cooked right.
They can be enjoyed with a variety of foods, such as sandwiches and burgers. They go well with meats like bacon.
Baked beans can also be eaten independently, especially if you add some additional seasonings to spice them up a little more.
One of the things that people seem to have trouble with is getting baked beans to be thick enough or produce a texture that they enjoy.
You can make them thin and watery, which doesn’t taste as good.
Or you can make them too dense and harden the outside of your bean while leaving most of it undercooked on the inside.
So how do you make them right?
The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the beans are soft enough.
If they’re too hard, no amount of cooking time will thicken them up.
They’ll also not cook as evenly if they’re undercooked and still tough on the inside.
It’s important to get this step right. There is no good reason not to thicken your baked beans.
It can be done in various ways, and some methods will work better than others, depending on what type of consistency you prefer.
How to Thicken Baked Beans?
Thickening baked beans can be a tricky process.
It’s easy to over or underdoes it, so here are some tips on getting that rich consistency you want without having your dish turn out too dry or watery.
If you’ve ever struggled with making cooked beans thick before, then this is a good place to start.
1 – Use Less Water When Cooking
The first tip is to use less water when you are cooking baked beans the first time around.
The ratio should be about 1 cup of water to three cups of beans, or 4 cups if all your ingredients in a recipe are canned.
Either way, it’s better for you if you have to add more water instead of using too much from the beginning.
It would be best to focus on making sure that the beans are cooked enough rather than adding more liquid into them.
You can always add liquid later if you need to without needing to worry about having runny baked beans (which will taste anything but delicious).
Add a small amount of liquid to the saucepan and continue adding more if the sauce is still too thick.
It’s easier to add the extra liquid that is too little than to try and force it out later.
The less liquid in the baked beans will also help prevent them from burning on the bottom of the pan, causing them to change color or become tough and chewy.
Too much water will make the beans harder to digest, so you will not benefit from consuming them.
2 – Simmer the Beans
If the beans are baked and come out too thin, you can put them back in the oven for seven more minutes at 430F.
This will reduce the liquid and make the sauce thicker.
If using a stove, heat the beans on low heat and leave the pot covered. It should be stirred occasionally.
Let it simmer until it reaches a rich, creamy consistency.
After the sauce has been reduced, do not add spices or seasonings until the beans are fully cooked, or they will burn.
3 – Use Cornmeal
Cornmeal will thicken baked beans and give them a richer consistency.
It’s a good thickener if you only need it for one dish because it will not keep well in the refrigerator for more than three days.
This is also an easy fix should you accidentally add too much liquid to your beans.
The next time you make these, consider adding a little bit of cornmeal to the pot.
It will help give you that thick consistency you want without overdoing it or making the dish taste gritty.
4 – Mash the Beans
The waxy core of beans makes them a great choice for making a sauce or thickening a dish.
Mashing the beans will reduce their size and help to thicken the sauce they’re in.
A lot of heat must make mashed beans stick together; without enough heat, the mash will not thicken.
It will also help to give the dish a chewier texture, which some people prefer.
If you want smooth consistency in your baked beans, mash them up and whisk into the sauce later.
Once the beans have been mashed, add them back into the pot.
Mix everything well together, and then let it cool for half an hour before adding any spices or seasonings.
This will make your dish less watery or gritty in texture.
5 – Use Cornstarch
Cornstarch is a useful thickener for baked beans because it will not taste gritty like cornmeal can.
It’s also relatively inexpensive and easy to find at any grocery store.
The great benefit of using cornstarch as a thickener is that it can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until you need it for your dish.
To thicken your beans with cornstarch:
- Start by combining a little bit of water and the cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Make sure that all clumps are broken up before adding them to the pot.
- Add this mixture to the saucepan at medium-high heat.
- Stir continuously until thickened and smooth.
6 – Use Thickening Agent
Seasonings can add flavor and thicken beans.
To thicken the sauce, you can use condiments like honey, brown sugar, and molasses.
These are also good options if your beans tend to come out too thick.
For a more savory option, you can add soy sauce.
Mix this into the hot beans for an added layer of flavor.
The condiment will thicken the bean as it warms up and mixes with all of the other ingredients.
These ingredients will help reduce the soup’s cooking time by providing more flavor and helping the sauce thicken.
7 – Use Butter and Flour
Many other thickening agents can be added to beans if you don’t have cornstarch.
You can use butter and flour in place of cornstarch or use a combination of both.
To thicken your beans:
- Mix equal parts butter and flour together.
- Add this mixture to the saucepan while it’s still on low heat.
- Keep stirring until the butter and flour mixture has melted.
Some people may say that bean cooking is not an exact science.
But with a little creativity and some experience, you can learn how to make the most flavorful and delicious beans every time.
Patience and practice will help you determine what works best for your family’s taste buds.
You just have to practice often to become more skillful.
With a little patience and knowledge, you’ll be able to prepare the perfect bean recipe for your family.