After one bite of these you’ll never want canned baked beans again. They have just the right amount of sweetness and tenderness that you want in your baked beans. They also have a wonderful smoky flavor, like you’d find in beans with bacon, thanks to the small amount of liquid smoke that we added. We played around with the measurements of the brown sugar and molasses to make them healthier, and not as sweet as what you find in store-bought beans. We’re confident that we got it just right.
You can make them in a Dutch oven or a casserole dish if you don’t have an iron skillet, although iron heats so evenly that you might want to consider investing in one.
In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, sugar, tomato paste, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder and liquid smoke until fully combined.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch (25-cm) cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and stir to coat in the oil. Cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, or until they’re slightly caramelized, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Reduce the heat to low and add the beans with the liquid in the cans and the maple syrup mixture. Stir until well combined.
Put the cast iron skillet in the oven and bake uncovered on the middle rack for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the beans are thick and the sauce is sticky. The edges of the beans should be caramelized.