For a meatless version, leave out the bacon and heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in place of the drippings. You can use any dried bean in this recipe but some of our favorites are pintos and baby limas.
Perfect Dutch Oven Beans
- 1 cup dried beans, sorted and rinsed
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large bowl, combine beans and water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and let stand for 6 hours or overnight. Drain, discarding liquid.
- In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and let drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add beans, 4 cups water, bay leaf, and pepper; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until bean mixture is creamy and thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir in bacon and salt. Remove and discard bay leaf before serving.