Barbecue Pizza Beans

published Oct 5, 2022
BBQ Pizza Beans Recipe

This vegetarian rendition of the iconic barbecue chicken pizza from CPK trades the chicken and crust for glazy beans.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Barbecue pizza beans in skillet.
Credit: Photo: Yunhee Kim; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Barbecue chicken pizza was engineered by Ed LaDou for California Pizza Kitchen in the 1980s. Tangy, a little smoky, and plenty cheesy, it’s one of the best things to come out of a mall restaurant (and the ’80s in general).

This quick and easy vegetarian rendition perfectly captures the spirit of the beloved pizza, sans chicken or crust, thanks to two cans of white beans, some barbecue sauce, and a duo of shredded cheeses. Think of it as main-dish version of baked beans; you’ll still have glaze-y beans, but they’ll be draped in singed mozzarella and smoked Gouda.

Credit: Photo: Yunhee Kim; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

To serve, top with cilantro and sliced red onion for fresh crunch. From there, you have a lot of options. Scoop it up with tortilla chips or cornbread. Nestle it between burger buns. Spoon it on top of crusty bread or rice. Or, simply go at it with a spoon.

BBQ Pizza Beans Recipe

This vegetarian rendition of the iconic barbecue chicken pizza from CPK trades the chicken and crust for glazy beans.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium or 1/2 large red onion

  • 2 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese

  • 2 ounces

    smoked cheddar or gouda cheese

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 3 cups

    cooked or 2 (about 15-ounce) cans white beans, such as butter or Great Northern

  • 1/2 cup

    tomato-based store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    water, plus more as needed

  • For seasoning: brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to broil. Peel 1 medium or 1/2 large red onion. Coarsely chop half, then thinly slice the remaining half. On the large holes of a box grater, grate 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese (heaping 1/2 cup) and 2 ounces smoked cheddar or gouda cheese (about 2/3 cup).

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or 10-inch oven-proof frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, drain 3 cups cooked or 2 (about 15-ounce) cans white beans.

  3. Turn off the heat. Add the beans, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, and 2 tablespoons water, and gently stir to combine. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed until the beans are glazed with sauce. Taste a bean and season with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, and black pepper as needed, until the beans are tangy and flavorful.

  4. Sprinkle the cheeses over the beans. Broil, rotating the pan as needed, until the cheeses are melted and browned in spots, 3 to 6 minutes. Top with as much of the sliced red onion as desired, the leaves from 3 fresh cilantro sprigs, and a few grinds of black pepper before serving.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: For a really fast version, use 1 (28-ounce) or 2 (15-ounce) can(s) baked beans instead of the cooked beans and barbecue sauce.

Beans: If you’re cooking dried beans, cook 10 ounces to get 3 cups cooked.

Make ahead: The beans can be assembled, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Bake in a 350ºF oven until warmed through and the cheeses starts to melt, then switch the oven to broil. Broil until the cheeses are browned in spots.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.