Grandma’s Notre Dame Baked Beans

Every fall from almost birth until I was in my early 20s, my family made the annual pilgrimage to Notre Dame for a football game. We would stay at my Aunt Margaret’s house, and as the sun rose on Saturday morning, a few of us would climb in the motor home and drive to the tailgate lot to stake out our usual spot. Grandma would always have made enough food to feed the army that would stop by the tailgate for a few minutes or hours before and after the game. There were always coffee cakes, sandwiches, cookies, cheesecake, lemon bars, chips and dip, etc. The two foods that I would always make sure to eat, though, were Grandma’s Notre Dame Baked Beans and Grandma’s Notre Dame Chili.

I guess with 2 babies due in the fall, and knowing that we won’t make it out for a game, I was feeling a little nostalgic. Hey the Spring game was only a few weeks ago, so it’s basically football season! Grandma’s baked beans are super sweet, and it fills the entire crockpot. Trying to get grandma to give me the recipe was like pulling teeth, as she has been making it forever and doesn’t measure.

Prep Time: 20-30 min.

Feeds: 1 extra large tailgate or 2 people (+2 really little people) with 3/4 for the freezer. Yields about 16 cups!


  • 1 can of each:Cans for Chili.JPG
    • lima beans, drained
    • kidney beans, drained
    • white beans, drained
    • butter beans (white/cream colored bean similar to a lima bean), drained
    • couple different types baked beans
    • chili beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes w chilies
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 lb. cooked bacon, chopped
  • chopped onion opt.
  • bbq sauce opt.

I often can’t find canned butter beans at the store, so I substituted cannellini beans. Basically, you are getting 1 of every type of canned bean on the shelf, plus a few baked beans. Drain all cans except the chili and baked beans, and add to the crockpot.

Pretty beans

(Clockwise: baked beans, white beans, chili beans, baked beans, cannellini beans. Deep red beans in center: kidney beans.)

Pour both types of diced tomatoes into the crockpot. I leave them in the juice for the flavor, but if you want a thicker chili, you can drain them.

Add 1 cup brown sugar. Remember this is a sweet chili, so if you want it a little less sweet, you can leave this out. Believe me there is already plenty of sugar in your baked and chili beans.

Even if you don’t like mustard, add the mustard. You can’t taste mustard individually, and you need the vinegar in it to balance out the sweetness.

Pile on the cooked and chopped bacon. If you want to make your life easier, use pre-cooked bacon. I bought 4 pounds at Sam’s for a decent price, and the rest will go in the freezer for sandwiches and such. (Thank you, Papa, for my love of bacon!) Again, to make life easier, I cut the pieces with kitchen scissors, instead of chopping with a knife.

Finally, if you so desire, add chopped onion and barbecue sauce.

Stir it all together and turn the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Grandma claims that you should stir it every few hours. I don’t, as that goes against all rules of crockpot cooking, and it is usually cooking while I am at work, but what do I know? If you like, serve with shredded cheese and crumbled saltines or oyster crackers.


3 thoughts on “Grandma’s Notre Dame Baked Beans

  1. This sounds really interesting! Notre Dame is just a bit away maybe I’ll have to make a trek over there one day and check out a game too!


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