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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegetarian Baked Beans

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Vegetarian baked beans are coated in a rich tomato sauce that balances savory and sweet flavors. This healthy version cuts back on sugar, using a little bit of maple syrup instead. Thanks to the shortcut of using canned beans, you will have this easy side dish ready to go in just 25 minutes!

Healthy vegetarian baked beans with no meat, served in a large pot over a wooden cutting board.

Baked beans are total comfort food, and I love the sweet, savory, smoky sauce they’re cooked in. But did you know that traditional canned baked beans (or even the homemade American version of baked beans) are not vegetarian?

That’s right! Even though beans are the star ingredient, baked beans typically include either salt pork or bacon. Regular baked beans recipes use small white beans (navy beans or great northern beans) and pork, which are cooked in a tomato-based sauce that includes molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard.

While the original recipe is delicious, it’s not plant-based, and not exactly healthy either.

Which is why I decided to make this vegetarian baked beans recipe without bacon or pork! This plant based version is packed with flavor, tastes just as good as the original, but reduces the sugar and has no processed meat. It also happens to be vegan and gluten free, which opens it up to a larger range of dietary needs so everyone can enjoy it!

You can enjoy them in the classic British way, directly on toast for breakfast, or in a variety of other ways (see our serving suggestions below!) Whether you plan to host some vegan barbecues during the summer months or are just looking to switch up family dinners, these meatless baked beans are a must try!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love Vegetarian Baked Beans

  • Plant-Based Protein: Beans are an excellent source of protein, leaving you full and satisfied! When paired with other sides or main dishes, you will likely end up with a balanced, filling meal.
  • Family Friendly: This is the perfect side dish for the whole family! Kids tend to love this recipe because it’s slightly sweet, and it also happens to be a classic dish that everyone is familiar with.
  • No Added Sugar: Using only pure maple syrup, these vegetarian beans are free from refined sugar, and we use less sugar overall. This recipe uses whole foods and clean ingredients, so you can feel good about enjoying this dish with your friends and family.
  • No Meat: While these easy vegan baked beans are made without pork, even meat eaters will love this recipe, because it tastes just as good as the traditional version!
  • Quick & Easy: These are the best beans ever! With minimal prep and only 20 minutes of baking time, these beans come together quickly. Plus, they taste way better than the canned baked beans from the store!

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

Making vegetarian baked beans from scratch is super convenient, using many pantry staples! See the recipe card at the end of this post for daily values and nutritional information.

Ingredients for vegetarian baked beans recipe on a white background.
  • Olive Oil & Onion: You’ll saute your onion in extra virgin olive oil, for a pop of flavor in this recipe. White or yellow onions both work for these beans!
  • Tomato Pureé: Tomato puree provides the perfect base for the beans, with that classic tomato taste that complements the sweet and savory ingredients.
  • Spices: We used a tablespoon of smoked paprika to get that classic smoky flavor in these no pork baked beans, along with some garlic powder and salt. Lastly we used some soy sauce for a touch of umami flavor! Feel free to add black pepper or crushed red pepper for a spicy kick.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Two teaspoons of ACV is all you need to get that tangy flavor boost without overpowering the other ingredients.
  • Maple Syrup: Instead of the traditional molasses and brown sugar, these beans are lightened up with maple syrup. Not only is this healthier, but also provides a more complex sweet flavor for the dish.
  • Water: This will help to thin out the tomato paste and create the perfect consistency for your beans. You’ll use ½ -¾ cups water depending on desired thickness.
  • Cannellini Beans: I prefer to use cannellini beans in this recipe. These white kidney beans are larger and creamier than the classic choice of navy beans. The type of bean you use is totally a personal choice!

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Oil: Any high heat oil can be used. Avocado oil would provide a neutral taste, while coconut oil will add additional flavor that should work fine with the sweeter elements of this recipe.
  • Tomato: Tomato paste could be used as a substitute for tomato puree. Since it is more concentrated, you will need less.
  • Smoky Flavor: You can swap the smoked paprika for liquid smoke and regular paprika.
  • Sweetener: While we want to keep this recipe as healthy as possible, you can stick to a more traditional approach using regular sugar. You can also use honey or agave nectar.
  • Garlic: If you do not have any garlic powder on hand, you can use minced garlic or garlic paste. Adjust measurements accordingly. You could also add in some onion powder.
  • Broth: These vegetarian beans have plenty of flavor already but you can still swap the water for vegetable broth, if desired.
  • Soy Sauce: Vegan Worcestershire sauce or tamari would also work. Tamari would be a gluten free option as well!
  • Beans: Any white bean will work in this recipe for vegetarian baked beans! Instead of cannellini beans, feel free to use navy beans (haricot beans) or great northern beans. You could also use pinto beans.

🔪 How To Make Vegetarian Baked Beans

Homemade vegetarian baked beans have never been easier! This recipe uses minimal ingredients and equipment. Follow along with the simple step by step directions below:

Saute Onion: Heat the oil in an oven-safe pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent.

Onions sauteeing in a large pot on the stove.

Add Ingredients: Combine the rest of the ingredients from tomato pureé to salt, stirring to combine.

Tomato sauce being stirred into a pot with spices and onions.

Add Water, Beans, & Simmer: Mix in ½ cup of water and the cannellini beans and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Cannellini beans added to a large pot with tomato sauce and spices.

Bake: Transfer the large pot of beans to the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. The sauce will thicken a bit. Remove the cooked beans from the oven and serve.

Vegetarian baked beans, stirred in a large pot on the stove.

How To Make Baked Beans In the Slow Cooker

If you prefer, you can make these healthy vegetarian baked beans in the slow cooker instead! Transfer all the ingredients to your slow cooker, give it a good stir, and cook on high for about 3 hours, or low for about 6 hours.

How To Make Baked Beans On The StoveTop

The stovetop method is slightly faster than baking the beans in your oven, here’s how:

  • Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
  • Combine all ingredients from tomato pureé through to salt, stir to combine.
  • Mix in ½ cup of water and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Next, add the cannellini beans and gently stir through the sauce.
  • Bring the beans back to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust thickness by adding more water if needed.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

💭 Expert Tips

  • For Baking: If you do not have an oven safe pot, you can use any large saucepan. Before baking, place beans in a baking dish and transfer to the oven. 
  • Prevent Overcooking: Avoid overcooking your beans. They should be tender but not mushy. Check the beans periodically for doneness. You can also add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water to help maintain the texture of the beans.
  • Stir Once During Baking: Give your beans a gentle stir to make sure the sauce is distributed evenly and to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

📖 Variations 

  • Caramelize Your Onions: Elevate this homemade vegan baked beans recipe by caramelizing one chopped onion and adding it in with the beans. This will add a sweet flavor and more texture to the dish.
  • Add Spice: For a sweet and spicy version add in some cayenne pepper, sriracha, hot sauce, or diced jalapenos!
  • Additional Flavors: Try BBQ sauce instead of the maple syrup, or liquid smoke!
  • Add Veggies: Add in some diced green bell peppers, celery, and carrots for extra fiber in these plant based baked beans.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

I love serving baked beans on toast for a simple breakfast or snack! If you prefer to serve the beans as a side, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy them:

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

These veggie baked beans are free from dairy, meat, and refined-sugar! They will accommodate most dietary needs as is, but keep in mind that soy sauce does contain gluten. For a gluten-free version, use coconut aminos or tamari instead. If you are following a low sodium diet, look for a low sodium soy sauce.

🫙 Storage Directions

  • Make Ahead: You can easily make this dish ahead of time! Follow all of the steps up until the point of baking. Let the beans cool, then cover the pot and store them in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, take the pot out of the fridge, heat it on the stove until just at room temperature / slightly warm, and then bake according to the instructions above.
  • Refrigerating: Once cooled to room temperature, place leftover beans in an airtight container. Store the beans in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing: This recipe is freezer-friendly! Store the beans in a large container in the freezer for up to 2 months for a quick and easy addition to your meals on those busy weekdays.
  • Reheating: Thaw the beans overnight in the fridge so they defrost but remain cold. Add the homemade baked beans to a pan on the stovetop and heat until warmed through. Alternatively, place in a microwave safe bowl to reheat (place a paper towel over the bowl to avoid splatters).

❓Recipe FAQs

WHAT ARE SOME VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL BACON OR HAM FOR FLAVOR?

I personally find the addition of maple syrup and soy sauce to be the perfect flavor for these baked beans without meat. Smoky flavor also gives the illusion of a meaty taste, using either smoked paprika or liquid smoke. If you are looking to add some texture to your beans, you can use chopped mushrooms or crumbled tempeh.

CAN I USE DRIED BEANS INSTEAD OF CANNED BEANS FOR THIS RECIPE?

You can use dry beans if you prefer, but keep in mind this will require extra time. Soak and cook the dry navy beans or cannellini beans first, and then follow this recipe just as it is laid out. For a quicker method, cook the dried beans in a pressure cooker on high pressure before making this recipe.

CAN I MAKE BAKED BEANS WITHOUT SUGAR?

Yes, you absolutely can! While traditional baked beans are delicious, they are loaded with quite a bit of sugar. This easy vegetarian baked beans recipe swaps the refined sugar for pure maple syrup. If maple syrup isn’t your preferred sweetener, you can use coconut sugar, raw honey, or agave. You can also omit the maple syrup altogether for a completely sugar free version, or use sugar free bbq sauce instead of the maple syrup.

Vegetarian baked beans on toast served on a white plate.

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

https://youtu.be/rYMlrrEh1T4
Healthy vegetarian baked beans with no meat, served in a large pot over a wooden cutting board.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Vegetarian Baked Beans

Vegetarian baked beans are coated in a rich tomato sauce that balances savory and sweet flavors. This healthy version cuts back on sugar, using a little bit of maple syrup instead. Thanks to the shortcut of using canned beans, you will have this easy side dish ready to go in just 25 minutes!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegan, vegetarian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 224kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

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Instructions

To Make In The Oven

  • Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
  • Combine all ingredients from tomato pureé through to salt, stir to combine.
  • Mix in ½ cup of water and cannellini beans and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the large pot of beans to the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the sauce has thickened and is nice and bubbly. Stir halfway through the cooking time to prevent sticking. Remove the cooked beans from the oven and serve.

To Make On The StoveTop

  • Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
  • Combine all ingredients from tomato pureé through to salt, stir to combine.
  • Mix in ½ cup of water and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Next, add the cannellini beans and gently stir through the sauce.
  • Bring the baked beans back to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust thickness by adding more water if needed.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

Notes

  • Adjust seasoning to suit your tastes.
  • Baked beans can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Store baked beans in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • Any white beans can be used instead of cannellini beans.
  • Use coconut aminos for a gluten free option.
  • Serve hot over your favorite toast.
  • Adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding additional water if needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 460mg | Potassium: 952mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g

6 responses to “Vegetarian Baked Beans”

  1. Vegetarian baked beans with a rich tomato sauce and a balance of savory and sweet flavors? Count me in! I love that this recipe offers a healthier twist by cutting back on sugar and incorporating the natural sweetness of maple syrup. It’s fantastic when you can enjoy a classic comfort dish with a mindful approach to ingredients.5 stars

  2. These vegetarian beans turned out delicious! The whole family enjoyed them so I will definitely be saving this recipe to make again!5 stars

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