The Meatwave

Tangy Pit Beans

Tangy Pit Beans View Recipe

It happens almost every summer, it comes closer to the end of the season and I start wondering where it all went. In a mad dash to fit in as much fun into these fleeting days, I find myself less and less plopping down in front of the computer, choosing instead to be bad to my blog in pursuit of all else that I had neglected during the prior months. Since time is such a commodity for me this time of year, I've also found ways to cut the time I spend in the kitchen, without giving it up completely, starting with this quick and delicious recipe for Tangy Pit Beans.

Tangy Pit Beans

Beans have long been one of my favorite sides to make along with my 'cue. I have a tried-and-true recipe that starts with dried beans, soaked over night, then cooked the next day for about 6 hours. As I considered the time I'd have to dedicate to being inside the house to make these, I set out on a search for a recipe that would be just as good that didn't require such commitment.

Tangy Pit Beans

That search didn't last long, since one of the first places I instinctively went to was Peace, Love, and Barbecue. There I found Mike Mill's recipe for 17th Street Tangy Pit Beans, which I've enjoyed each year at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. These beans had such a deep barbecue flavor, I was surprised to find that the recipe called for using all canned beans, mixed with a simple barbecue sauce, then cooked for one hour. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Tangy Pit Beans

The recipe starts with a sauce of mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, magic dust, onion, and green peppers. These are mostly ingredients I have in my house at all times, and with them quickly on hand, I was able to whip up the sauce in about 10 minutes, including dicing the veggies.

Tangy Pit Beans

There's no doubt that the real time saver here is the use of canned beans. I like the feel of starting with dried and going from there; I find that the beans really take on whatever flavor they're cooked with using that method. Mike Mill's, however, calls for the use of a variety of canned beans, including pork and beans and chili beans, so a lot of the flavor is already in the can to start. Emptying beans in the bowl with the barbecue sauce and washing those that needed it couldn't have taken more than another 5 minutes of my precious time.

Tangy Pit Beans

Then the recipe called for laying strips of bacon, pulled pork, or barbecue ribs on top of the beans and bake for an hour. Seeing as the Meatwave rarely has pork leftovers, I went for the bacon option, set the whole thing in a 350 degree oven for 45 minuted covered, then an additional 15 minuted uncovered.

Tangy Pit Beans

What came out after about only an hour and twenty minutes of prep and cooking time was magical. These beans have a great, deep barbecue flavor. The different types of beans create a pleasing variety of texture, adding a lot of complexity to a simple recipe. The bell pepper also rounds out the whole thing with a nice freshness, which is something that I might have lost using the canned beans over dried. These beans were a little more saucy then my normal stock, but I kind of liked it that way. One of the best parts was that it made such a large batch, that after a day of heavy eating, there was still enough left to freeze and enjoy at the next Meatwave two weeks later, saving me loads of more time from having to prepare another side then. You could even argue that they were better the second time around.

Print Recipe

Tangy Pit Beans

  • Prep 15 Minutes
  • Cook 1 Hour
  • Total 1 Hour 15 Minutes


  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum or honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Magic Dust
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) pork and beans
  • 1 can (19 oz.) large red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz.) chili beans
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz.) large butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz.) of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 or 5 slices bacon or a few cooked ribs or some barbecued pulled pork


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ketchup, onion, bell pepper, brown sugar, sorghum or honey, mustard, and Magic Dust together in a large bowl.
  2. Gently stir in beans with hand or large wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
  3. Pour beans into a 13x9-inch baking dish. Lay strips of bacon, ribs or pork across top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-30 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 1 month.

From Peace, Love, and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills

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  1. "The Outdoor Cook" Thanks for shareing this recipe!!

    I posted a link for you at my website, it should go up in a day or two.

  2. Lisa Those beans look fabulous!

  3. Dave Excellent recipe and great photos. Mind if I add a link to you on our site?


  4. josh! @Dave: Thanks! You can link me up...nice BGE.

  5. Dave Nice. I especially like the canned beans and using a variety. Can't wait to try this, thanks! (great site too).

  6. Ben Cops Can you share your "long" recipe with the dried beans? I can't get chilli beans or pork and beans in the UK!

  7. rich langer "My" BBQ beans start with Bush's Baked Beans, then I :doctor" them up. I really like the idea of using several different types of beams - gotta give that a try.

    I would suggest adding some pulled pork (which I usually have in the freezer) and putting the bean pot on the lower shelf of the WSM under some goody that will drip into the beans. Pork (or beef) fat GOOD DOH

  8. Josh I love the idea of letting the some drippings drop into the beans. Do you ever have a problem with the beans getting too greasy though? I'll have to try it out sometime.

  9. Mr. Micro I'm interested in making these as a break from my usual baked beans recipe. I sampled these beans at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party as well and loved them, but that seems like an awful lot of sweetener between the honey and the brown sugar. Would you recommend reducing one or the other?

    I'll probably also add in some cayenne or chipotle powder in addition to my rub to give it a little extra kick. What did you use for your fifth bean? I was thinking black, but lima might be something unexpected too...

  10. Josh @Mr. Micro Compared to what they serve at BABBP, these beans are sweeter and thicker, so cutting back the sugar isn't a bad idea. Also, if you prefer spicy, chipotle would be a really nice addition.

    My fifth bean was great northern beans, which I really like for barbecue beans in general.

  11. Mr. Micro Ah, yeah I guess I should've noticed that from the picture, duh. Thanks!

    My wife and I make frequent trips to NYC, I might have to get in touch with you about the possibility of attending one of your shindigs (if you'd have us, of course.) You and I have a lot in common my friend.

    Have a great holiday this weekend.

  12. Al Broadman I'm sure your beans are very good but I see one problem here, all the stealth salt.

    The salt content of a bowl of these beans probably approaches 200% of the recommended daily allowance. that combine with a plate of BBQ and other sides puts this meal in the salt hall of shame.

    Now I'm not arguing that salt adds flavor to a meal because it does, but there comes a time when you have to look at total salt from ingredients in a recipe.

    A lot of your salt is coming from the canned beans themselves, 3 cans of beans has nearly 200% of a daily allowance alone. Add the ketchup, magic dust, and bacon and you have something over the top.

    The best thing I can come up with for this recipe is to look for low salt or no salt versions of the ingredients and let people add extra salt if they want too. After all, the intense flavor of salt that most people want is best delivered on top of the food, not contained within it and away from the tastebuds.

  13. Tanya Railsback Thank you for posting this recipe! I was looking for an interesting quick, convenient, more flavorful and less cloyingly sweet side dish alternative to opening a can of bush's baked beans. I made these beans once, already reducing the sugar content(no honey, minimal brown sugar, reduced ketchup) I also omitted the pork n beans (high fructose corn syrup, anyone?) just subbing for a nice variety if beans, chili, pinto, kidney, great northern, etc and they were a hit. I echo the folks above who have concerns about salt and sugar content. Both are truly over the top in this recipe. I will continue to tweak it, trying low sodium canned beans, lower salt bacon, less magic dust/seasoning salt, etc.

  14. Randy I'm fixin the recipe up at this time Thanks

  15. LeVar I don't eat red meat. What would you recommend as a substitute?

  16. Josh @LeVar You could use some smoked, barbecue chicken. If you want to go meatless, try adding some smoked paprika or chipotle powder to taste--something to give the beans a little smoky flavor.

  17. Chadd G I've made these several times now. The first I followed the recipe exactly with bacon on top. And while very good I found them very sweet. The second I reduced the ketchup by a cup and the brown sugar by half then threw them on the smoker at 350. More smoke flavor and still pretty sweet but kinda dry. My current go to is take out a cup of ketchup, half the brown sugar and half the honey. Then I add a 1/2 cup of apple cider and a tsp of cider vinegar. Personally for me that's the sweet spot.

    That being said made as is just following the original recipe, these beans will crush anything you can get at a store or deli and the amount of effort to results ratio is totally worth it