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Baked Beans With Watermelon BBQ Sauce

IngredientsBeans, Watermelon
Menu PartSide Dish
Cuisine TypeAmerican
Baked Beans With Watermelon BBQ Sauce

Chef Rebecca Peizer

Culinary Institute of America

St. Helena, Calif.

Baked beans are a tailgate and barbecue favorite, but Chef Rebecca Peizer gives the tried-and-true recipe a refreshing twist with a fruity barbecue sauce. Pureed watermelon adds a slightly sweet and tangy accent to the sauce, complemented by bitter notes from the addition of coffee, tartness from apple cider vinegar and smokiness from smoked paprika.


Baked beans

1 lb. dried navy beans

1 cup diced bacon

Vegetable oil, as needed

1½ cups finely chopped onion

4 garlic cloves, smashed

Watermelon BBQ sauce

6 cups watermelon, pureed

½ cup tomato paste

½ cup molasses

¼ cup smoked paprika

1 tbsp. dry mustard

1 cup strong brewed coffee

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. salt


  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water, drain and refrigerate.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare BBQ sauce: In saucepot, combine watermelon puree, tomato paste, molasses, paprika and mustard. Stir in coffee, vinegar and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook sauce until it’s reduced by two-thirds and thickened; reserve.
  3. For baked beans: Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and render until almost crispy; add oil if needed to assist in browning.
  4. Add onions to same saucepan and sweat until translucent. Add garlic and saute until aromatic. Stir in drained soaked beans and watermelon barbecue sauce to the bean and bacon mixture; stir to combine. Heat on medium heat until bubbly.
  5. Cover saucepan or pot and place into oven for 2 hours. Stir after 2 hours and cook in oven, covered, for an additional 3 to 4 hours.  Add water if necessary to ensure there is enough liquid to cook beans thoroughly.
  6. Remove beans from oven and stir. If liquid needs to be reduced further, place on stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook, uncovered, until thickened.

Photo courtesy of National Watermelon Board

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