Add Dr. Pepper To Baked Beans For Some Added Sweetness

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A good cooking hack not only simplifies recipes but also elevates the final result to a dish that's greater than the sum of its parts. It could be something as simple as adding an unconventional spice to your tomato sauce or using water to get crispier bacon. Or, it could be something more outrageous — say, a splash of Dr. Pepper to your baked beans. Now, stay with us and you'll soon know why this could become your new favorite way of making baked beans. And no, you don't need to love the taste of Dr. Pepper to use this hack because, once cooked, its flavor becomes quite unrecognizable.

The reason adding the popular fizzy drink to the English breakfast staple works so well is that it brings unprecedented complexity to the overall dish. Don't think of it as adding soda pop flavor to your beans; instead, consider all the different flavors that Dr. Pepper contains. Simmered and reduced, these flavors deepen and blend well with the savory and spicy notes of the dish's other ingredients to give you flavorful, creamy beans in a rich sauce.

It may sound surprising, but Dr. Pepper and cooking actually go back a long way. The soda is used in marinades and glazes, and if a certain cookbook from the 1960s is believed, a whole lot more!

Dr. Pepper's 23 flavors add sweet complexity baked beans

Dr. Pepper is famous for its distinctive blend of 23 flavors. While the actual ingredients are a well-kept secret, superfans of the drink have speculated a smorgasbord of flavoring components based on the drink's taste that includes licorice, caramel, carrot, clove, cherry, ginger, lemon, molasses, nutmeg, orange, pepper, root beer, rum, raspberry, tomato, and vanilla.

A great baked beans recipe balances several contrasting flavors for richness. It gets its spice from mustard and powdered chili, tanginess from apple cider vinegar and tomato paste, and sweetness from molasses, slow-cooked onions, and even the popular Korean condiment gochujang. Many subtle notes in Dr. Pepper's flavor profile, like caramel, nutmeg, tomato, vanilla, and carrot, are similar to ingredients often added to sauces for a rich and complex sweetness beyond sugar. The soda pop is, therefore, the perfect substitute for ramping up your baked beans without having to prep several ingredients for the same rich flavor.

For the ideal Dr. Pepper baked beans, use a cup (about half to two-thirds of a can) of the cola and simmer it with two cans of beans and flavoring ingredients like garlic, onion, and mustard for at least 10 minutes. As the cola reduces, the flavors intensify, and the sugar caramelizes, adding depth. Complement it with smokey notes from Worcestershire sauce, some spice and seasoning, and you're in business. If you want to try it before making it, you can also buy Dr. Pepper baked beans online.

Dr. Pepper and cooking go back a long way

Dr. Pepper's sweetness pairs especially well with bacon, pork ribs, and grilled red meats. However, there are several ways to incorporate it in recipes. The aforementioned recipe book, fittingly titled Cooking with Dr. Pepper and published by the soda company in the 1960s, features a recipe for a multipurpose condiment called DPQ sauce. Made by blending garlic, onion, lemon juice, and herbs with Dr. Pepper, the punchy, sweet-savory liquid can be used (per the recipe book) as salad dressing, marinade, flavoring sauce, and, of course, in baked beans.

The key to cooking with Dr. Pepper is to complement its flavor with spicy, smokey, and savory notes. Therefore, try adding barbecue sauce, cumin powder, hot and smokey peppers, and other ingredients you usually add to your marinades to come up with your version of DPQ sauce.

Interestingly, Dr. Pepper serves an additional purpose when used as a marinade as the acids it contains tenderize meat quite effectively. Combined with the drink's distinctive taste, a Dr. Pepper marinade will tenderize and flavor the meat in a way that will have your dinner guests asking you for your secret ingredient. Whether you reveal it or not is up to you!