Thick, sweet, smoky, and savory Vegan Baked Beans! Cooked long and slow they are full of rich, deep, and complex flavors and just perfect for serving at your next BBQ, potluck, or family dinner. This is a recipe that regular AVV readers come back to again and again!
Incredible Vegan Baked Beans from scratch! Rich, smoky, complex, super delicious, and an AVV reader favorite since 2016 with so many 5-star reviews!
No barbecue, cookout, summer meal, or family dinner is complete without a side of baked beans and this recipe is as convenient as it is delicious. It's stovetop, oven, and slow cooker friendly, and although the beans are cooked long and slow for the very best, well-developed flavor, the hands-on time is very minimal.
How To Make Vegan Baked Beans
These homemade vegan and vegetarian baked beans need a little initial prep then you can leave them to cook long and slow pretty much unsupervised. You will be rewarded with a comforting & delicious pot of the most incredible baked beans!
Here's a quick summary of how it's done:
- First, I recommend soaking your beans overnight. Soaking creates a plumper bean that cooks more evenly. They will also take less time to cook and will be less likely to split while cooking. See below if you forgot to soak your beans. I have a solution!
- Next, we need to cook the beans before proceeding with the recipe. The sauce is very acidic and if you don't pre-cook the beans they won't soften properly. Note that if you use canned beans you don't need to worry about soaking or pre-cooking them.
- Saute the onion and garlic, then add the beans and all the other ingredients. Cook long and slow on the stovetop, in your oven, or in a slow cooker. Time is your friend with this recipe. It allows the flavors to really concentrate and develop for the best vegan baked beans possible! Moral of the story...Don't rush them!
Leave simmering until you need them or stash them away in the fridge and reheat later. They taste even better after the flavors have had a chance to develop for a few days!
EXPERT TIP - Although I give options for making these baked beans in an oven, slow cooker, or on the stovetop, the method that gives the very best results is definitely oven-baking. It really concentrates the flavors and makes for better, richer, beans. They are called "baked" beans for a reason!
No Time To Soak Your Beans?
Did you forget to soak your beans? Don't worry, I do it all the time and you can still make the recipe. You have two options. You can use canned beans, or you can quick soak your dried beans.
To quick soak - Put the beans in a pan of water (have about 2 inches of water above the beans) then bring to a rolling boil. Let them boil like that for 1 minute then turn off the heat, cover tightly, and leave undisturbed in the hot water for 1 hour. You can then drain them, and proceed with the recipe.
Vegan baked beans are the perfect side dish at BBQs and cookouts, or at regular family dinners or brunches. Perfect partners include:
- fried or grilled vegan chicken
- burgers & hot dogs
- grilled potatoes or corn
- vegan sausages or bacon
- vegan cornbread
- vegan ham
- mac and cheese
- a full English breakfast with scrambled eggs and all the trimmings
My favorite way to eat them is on baked potatoes! Bake the potatoes in the oven until crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside, cut in half, slather with vegan butter, sprinkle with lots of shredded cheese or nutritional yeast, mash it all into the potato flesh with a fork, then spoon over lots of Vegan Baked Beans. So, so good!
You could also be very British and enjoy your baked beans on hot buttered toast, or with Bubble & Squeak! Not much can beat Bubble and Squeak, baked beans, and a sausage for dinner!
Making Ahead & Storing Leftovers
Baked beans are the perfect make-ahead dish. They can be left simmering gently for ages, and reheat perfectly. In fact they are even better once the flavors have had a chance to develop.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and warm gently in a pan on the stovetop or in a microwave.
Any small white bean such as navy beans, cannellini beans, or great northern beans are fine to use in this recipe.
Some beans simply refuse to soften. You can soak them overnight and then simmer them all day long, and they’ll still be hard. This is usually due to age or improper storage. This might not be your fault. You never know how the beans were stored before you purchased them.
Be sure to follow my instructions to soak the beans and then boil them before making a start to minimize the risk of this happening. If you do have beans that tend to stay hard and you want to rescue them try adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to the water when boiling the beans.
This recipe needs some adapting to work well in an Instant Pot. I am working on it though so watch out for a new Instant Pot version soon!
More Bean Recipes
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Vegan Baked BeansAuthor:
- 1 pound (454g or 2½ cups) dried small white beans , such as navy, cannellini, or great northern. OR 6 cups (4 x 15oz cans) of drained canned beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , or water for oil-free
- 1 large onion , diced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 x 28oz (793g) can or 3 cups crushed tomatoes , or passata
- ¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup (80 mls) maple syrup , or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses , or dark molasses
- 1 tablespoon mustard , yellow, brown, or Dijon
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika , OR 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid smoke. DO NOT use both.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt , adjust as necessary if using table salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 large bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- If you are using canned beans skip the soaking and pre-cooking steps. Soak the dried beans in plenty of water overnight. Forgot to soak? See my quick soak tips in the post above.
- Drain off the soaking water, put the beans in a large pan, cover with plenty of fresh water and bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer until the beans are tender. You want a creamy soft inside with a slight bite on the outside. The cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans. It can take anywhere from 45 mins to 1½ hours. Once cooked, drain and either refrigerate until needed, or proceed with the recipe. This step can be completed up to 2 days ahead.
Stove Top Method
- In a large pan saute the onion until just beginning to turn golden on the edges. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Add the cooked (or canned) beans along with the rest of the ingredients, stir well, then bring to a gentle simmer.
- Cover and cook for around 3 hours or until the beans are very soft and the sauce is thick and rich. Check them often and stir to make sure they aren't sticking to the bottom or drying out. To thicken the sauce a little more simply remove the lid and simmer uncovered until reduced to your liking, or add a little more water to thin if you prefer them that way.
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Follow stove top method but use an oven proof pan with a lid (such as a Dutch oven). Once the beans have reached a simmer, cover, then place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours until the beans are soft and the sauce is thick and rich. To thicken the sauce a little more simply remove the lid and bake uncovered until reduced to your liking, or add a little more water to thin if you prefer them that way.
Slow Cooker Method
- Warm the olive oil in a small pan. Saute the onion and garlic until just turning golden on the edges, then add them along with the cooked (or canned) beans and all of the other ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir well then cook on low for 8 hours. I have even left them for up to 10 hours. Or cook on high for 5 hours. Open the lid for the last 30 minutes (or longer) until the sauce has thickened to your liking.