Side dish

Dr Pepper barbecue beans

Dr Pepper barbecue beans DSC2014

“You can eat beans on Saturday night and attend church on Sunday without fear of embarrassment,” said the article. The piece was advising cooks to pour Coke into their beans in order to prevent any lower-gut reactions from occurring when eating said legume. I was intrigued.

While I’ve made beans with other beverages, including another fizzy one—beer, I can’t say that I’d ever made beans with Coke. As my luck would have it, I spotted a recipe card at the kitchenware store for barbecue beans made with said soda. I picked it up and decided to give it a try.

The recipe I found was for a more Yankee-style dish, as it not only called for Great Northern beans but there were also no other additions besides garlic, onion, ketchup, and molasses. Since I prefer the meatiness of pinto beans, I decided to cook with those instead. I also threw in some chili powder and smoked paprika along with bacon to give it a more fiery, meaty flavor. And being a Texan, I opted to use Dr Pepper instead of the recommended Coke.

Dr Pepper barbecue beans | Homesick Texan

After a quick soak and cooking the beans solo for only 30 minutes as per the recipe’s instructions, I placed them in the slow cooker along with the sauce. Perhaps I had an old batch of beans, but after eight hours the beans were still tough and crunchy, which was disappointing. I find the slow cooker usually works wonders with beans, so I decided there was too much acid in the recipe for them to soften properly. The flavor, however, was promising—a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little smoky. I decided to try it again.

The next day, I cooked my pintos until they were completely tender before putting them in the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. And since I didn’t have to worry about the beans softening, I also splashed in some apple cider vinegar to make the dish even brighter. I cooked the beans overnight and woke up to a savory, inviting scent.

While my plan was to serve the beans later with hamburgers, I couldn’t wait and for breakfast I enjoyed a bowl of the Dr Pepper barbecue beans. It was an excellent beginning to my day. These beans were a keeper.

Curious how the recipe would work in the oven, I made another batch. They also turned out good, but there is an advantage to using the slow cooker in the summer.

Dr Pepper barbecue beans | Homesick Texan

Now these are not your typical crusty baked beans (though you could certainly lift off the lid and make them that way if you prefer). Instead these are creamier—more like pinto beans in a sauce that’s a little spicy and a little sweet, a dish I’ve had on several occasions at Texas barbecue joints.

These beans will be welcome at your next backyard gathering, as they make a fine companion to ribs, brisket, or any other smoked or grilled meats. And yes, in case you were wondering, I did indeed discover that by adding Dr Pepper to your beans, you can definitely go anywhere without fear of embarrassment at all.

Dr Pepper barbecue beans DSC2014
4.8 from 5 votes

Dr Pepper barbecue beans

Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans or 3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces thick bacon
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces Dr Pepper or other dark soda
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne


  1. If using dried pinto beans, rinse the beans and place in a 4- or 5- quart Dutch oven. Cover with 2 inches of water and add the salt. Bring the pot to a boil, and let the beans boil for 15 minutes. After this time, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Simmer the pot covered for 1 hour and then remove the lid. Continue to simmer the beans until tender and soft, which can take anywhere from 30 more minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the age of the beans. (If the water gets too low, add a little more to the pot). When the beans are tender and soft, drain the beans.
  2. If using canned pinto beans, simply drain them.
  3. If using a slow cooker, place the cooked beans into the slow cooker. If using the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F, and place the beans back into the Dutch oven.
  4. In a skillet, on medium-low heat, cook the bacon about 5 minutes, turning once. You want to render some of the fat from the bacon but leave it undercooked and still floppy. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spatula, and place on a paper-towel lined plate leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. When cool enough to handle, chop the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.
  5. With the skillet still heated on medium-low, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Turn off the heat.
  6. Spoon the onions and garlic over the beans, either in the slow cooker or the Dutch oven, then deglaze the skillet with the Dr Pepper by pouring it into the skillet and then swirling it around while scraping the bottom. Pour the Dr Pepper over the beans.
  7. Add to the slow cooker or Dutch oven the bacon, ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir everything together until well combined then taste and add more salt if needed.
  8. If cooking in the slow cooker, cook covered on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours. The beans will be a little soupy so if you prefer a drier consistency, you can remove the lid for the last hour. Because flavors can get muted in the slow cooker, you may want to taste and add more seasonings and perhaps a splash of vinegar at the end to brighten up the dish.
  9. To cook the beans in the oven, cook covered for 1 hour, then remove the lid and cook uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how dry you want your beans. Check on the beans after 30 minutes and if they're already looking too dry, add water to the pot. Again, feel free to taste after cooking and adjust the spices and add a splash of vinegar if you like.

  1. abby tankersley

    That was very interesting….glad to know that Dr Pepper will work that way!! Thanks so much!! We are from Waco and always use Dr Pepper!!

  2. Lisa Fain

    Abby–You're welcome–glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Rosario Infante

    Can't wait to try this, it will go perfect with my Dr.Pepper pulled pork sandwiches!

  4. Lisa Fain

    Rosario–Sounds like a plan!

  5. Jennifer

    Well my 4th of July bean plans just changed! I was going to make my usual pintos with ham hocks or smoked neck bones, and bay leaves. But how can I not try these? You had me at 'Dr Pepper' :0

  6. Lisa Fain

    Jennifer–Have a wonderful Fourth!

  7. Shannon

    I do believe this is the side dish I was looking for! Taking it to my 4th party!!! Thanks! Much love from Austin, Lisa!!!

  8. Sandee61

    Yum! Can't wait to try these. Thank you!

  9. Lisa Fain

    Shannon–It's great for potluck! Happy Fourth to you, too!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Sandee–You're welcome and enjoy!

  11. sara cheri

    These sound great! I fortunately had all ingredients so I made it and just turned on the crock pot. My husband and I will have these with potato salad and a trimmed brisket. I can't wait to dig in and blow the heck outa my diet!! 😉

  12. Lisa Fain

    Sara–You have to love it when that happens! And potato salad and brisket will go very well with the beans.

  13. Jake Shaw

    Recipe looks great — can make them now that I'm seeing Dr Pepper all over Europe. One question: Is there a reason you didn't do an overnight soak of the beans?

    — Jake (a homesick Texan in Luxembourg)

  14. Lisa Fain

    Jake–That's a good question! I've found they sometimes cook fine without a soak, but sometimes I soak them, too. They do cook faster when soaked, I will admit. They main thing with this recipe is to have cooked beans before adding the sauce, so if you have a preferred method of making them, feel free to do that instead!

  15. Anonymous

    Have this amazing pot of loveliness in the oven right now!! Can't wait for the finished product!! Thanks Lisa! This homesick Texan in Florida loves your blog and all of the recipes!!!

  16. RL Wright Photography

    Made these for the 4th and they are amazing!!

  17. Anonymous

    I made these in the crockpot for the 4th and they were amazing!Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  18. This was interesting to me because I had a similar thing happen. I cooked pinto beans in my slow cooker all day, and they still weren't done. I cooked them the next day on the stove then put them back in the crockpot for a recipe. By that time, they were done and turned out great.

  19. Nadia Murray

    I had a pound of pintos in the pantry so I made these for the Fourth and used Coke instead of Dr. Pepper and some nice peppered bacon. I finished them in the oven and served with hot dogs and coleslaw. Very well received and will definitely make again!

  20. Anonymous

    Could you make the entire recipe on the stovetop if you didn't want to wait all day for the crockpot or heat up the house with the oven? Thanks

  21. Lisa Fain

    Anon–I reckon you could, though I haven't tried it. If you do, please let us know how it works!

  22. Michael Nethery

    Hey Miss Texas!:) After living in Austin, Dallas and Irving for about 10 years, I love following your writings. Much to the dismay of my wife we cooked these once. Then twice, then Trice. Now this is done faithfully twice a week. Totally awesome and all my kids and grand kids love them too. I know I don't have to prompt you but keep up the totally great work!

  23. Kim Messer

    My Texas German grandmother cooked her pinto beans in a Crock-Pot with a can of Coke plus water and seasonings. They were also gastro friendly.

    • Lisa Fain

      Kim–I love it! I believe it’s the soda that helps, as a pinch of baking soda produces a similar effect.

  24. A friend at work recommended your website and I am so glad he did. Made this recipe last weekend and it was great. Delicious, all the flavors blended together so well and the beans had such a distinct flavor from other bean dishes I’ve made. Will definitively be trying more of your recipes. Thanks!

    • Lisa Fain

      Welcome, J Mo! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the beans. Happy cooking!

  25. Heather Dalton

    5 stars
    Just finished making these about an hour ago and they are about gone!! Fastest eaten food ever! And my 3 boys & husband are in food comas!!!

    • Lisa Fain

      Heather–Wow! That’s high praise! I’m so glad y’all enjoyed the beans.

  26. 4 stars
    These tasted great, but 2 hours in a 350 oven was much too long for mine. They were dried out even though I cooked them with the lid on for the first hour and then took the lid off. Next time I’ll do them in the crockpot or try a lower temp in the oven.

    • Lisa Fain

      Laura–Thank you for the feedback! I’ll update the recipe to reflect your experience, advising people to also check the levels and add more liquid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating