The College Housewife » Recipes » Side Dish » Vegetarian Baked Beans

Vegetarian Baked Beans

This Vegetarian Baked Beans recipe is tangy, spicy, smoky and sweet (without molasses!) to really bring out the natural, earthy flavor of canned beans.

It’s an easy, homemade side dish prepared in the oven or slow cooker best served alongside grilled veggies, coleslaw, pasta salad or your favorite BBQ spread.

easy vegetarian baked beans in yellow dutch oven with wooden spoon and white kitchen towel

I cannot tell you how excited I am to celebrate this weekend in full force. The 4th of July has always held a special place on my calendar. It combines some of my absolute favorite things – friends, fireworks, BBQ and no-bake s’mores!

And my BBQ spread would not be complete without a giant casserole dish of homemade baked beans.

I love to make my own rendition of baked beans because:

  1. They are delicious.
  2. I can flavor them any which way I choose
  3. Vegetarian-style really allows the earthy flavor of beans to shine!

While I love the shortcut of Bush’s baked beans or even the traditional Boston baked beans scented with molasses and some version of pork, this Vegetarian Baked Beans recipe is incredibly balanced. It hits at all the right marks – tangy, spicy, smoky, sweet. And rather than relying on bacon for that smoky flavor, a few simple pantry ingredients are all you need.

It takes some time and patience, but most of the work is virtually hands-off. Plus, if you don’t feel like turning on your oven, there’s a super simple way to make these beans in the slow cooker, too!

It’s a wonderful meat-free side dish for all your veggie-loving friends! And all those smoky flavors go particularly well with BBQ dishes charred on an outdoor grill. Make a pitcher of your favorite cocktail and you have an outdoor get-together in no time!

Ingredients

These vegetarian-style baked beans are made with a handful of pantry ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or fridge. All are also easily available at Trader Joe’s or your local supermarket.

sliced onions, chili powder, smoked paprika, olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, maple syrup, beans

  • olive oil
  • yellow onion
  • garlic cloves
  • whiskey or bourbon
  • tomato paste
  • soy sauce
  • mustard
  • apple cider vinegar
  • vegetable broth
  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • liquid smoke
  • maple syrup or brown sugar
  • canned navy or pinto beans

Whiskey or Bourbon. I know it may seem like a lot of liquor, but all of the alcohol cooks out during the simmering and baking process. I am partial to whiskey but go with your preference or whatever you have on hand.

Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar. That’s right, there is no molasses in this baked beans recipe! I think a lot of people are sometimes turned off by the flavor of baked beans because of the intense, blackstrap molasses flavor. The maple syrup or brown sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness without overpowering all the other flavors.

Canned Navy or Pinto Beans. Navy beans are small, smooth, dense and mild. Pinto beans are much more robust, earthy, nutty and rich. Use whichever bean suits your preferred flavor. I love using canned rather than dried beans because it practically cuts the cooking time in half and they come out just as tender and delicious (if not more). Two 15 ounce cans are all you’ll need. Just make sure to rinse and drain to rid of excess salt and starch.

How To Make Vegetarian Baked Beans From Scratch

All it takes is a few simple steps to make glorious baked beans at home. Most of the work is left to the oven, which means more time to enjoy your family and friends. Simply:

caramelizing onions in yellow dutch oven, beans and liquid in dutch oven with wooden spoon

  1. Caramelize the onions. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saute pan or dutch oven (preferred, as you won’t have to transfer the beans to a casserole dish), heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become soft, translucent and slightly caramelized.
  2. Deglaze the pan. Add the garlic and whiskey and cook for 30 seconds, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pot and allowing some of the alcohol and liquid to burn off.
  3. Add flavorings. Stir in tomato paste, soy sauce, mustard and apple cider vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the tomato paste has thinned out.
  4. Stir in spices, smoke, sweet and beans. Add in vegetable broth, smoked paprika, chili powder, liquid smoke, maple syrup (or brown sugar) and beans. Gently stir everything together until beans are well coated.
  5. Bake! Transfer the beans to a casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil or simply cover the dutch oven with the lid. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Vegetarian Baked Beans in Slow Cooker

Sometimes, one of the last things I want to do during the warmer months is turn on my oven. Either that or I just can’t be bothered cooking anything over a hot stove. Enter CrockPot vegetarian baked beans. All I have to do is stir all the ingredients together and let the slow cooker do all the work for me.

For Slow Cooker Baked Beans:

  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, gently mix to combine and cover with the lid.
  • Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
  • Serve immediately, still warm and right in the bowl of your slow cooker!

homemade baked beans in pot with wooden spoon

Gluten-Free Customizations

These baked beans are both vegetarian and vegan. If you need them to be gluten-free too, swap out the soy sauce for tamari or liquid aminos. And make sure to use a certified gluten-free vegetable broth or water (the beans may need a touch more salt if you choose to use water).

Serving Suggestions

This wonderfully sweet, smoky, hearty side dish is best served with all the fixings. Celebrate in style with an entire BBQ vegetable feast and serve these beans alongside grilled veggies, Vegan Coleslaw, Vegan Pasta Salad and more!

To really highlight that whiskey flavor, make a special Blackberry Whiskey Mint Lemonade and bask in the fireworks with all your friends.

vegetarian baked beans in yellow dutch oven with wooden spoon

Recipe Tips:

  • Use a dutch oven. I prefer to use a Dutch oven for ease and convenience. This way, I don’t have to transfer the beans mixture to a casserole dish and I can bake the beans right in the same pot.
  • Pick your preferred bean. I recommend sticking with one type of bean as each provides its own, unique flavor profile. Navy beans will be tender and mild whereas pinto beans will be heartier and richer.
  • Add BBQ sauce, if needed. If the baked beans seem a bit dry to you, stir in 2-3 Tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce at the very end. It adds a touch of liquid and another layer of flavor.

More Vegetarian Sides You’ll Love!

If you make this Vegetarian Baked Beans recipe, be sure to tag me on Pinterest and Instagram!

I seriously love seeing what you guys are making and sharing your creations with the College Housewife community!

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easy vegetarian baked beans in yellow dutch oven with wooden spoon and white kitchen towel

Vegetarian Baked Beans

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Vegetarian Baked Beans recipe is tangy, spicy, smoky and sweet (no molasses!) prepared in the oven or slow cooker best served alongside any BBQ spread.


Scale

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup whiskey or bourbon

½ cup tomato paste

1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional

⅓ cup maple syrup or brown sugar

2 (15 oz) cans navy or pinto beans, drained and rinsed


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large saute pan or dutch oven (by using a dutch oven you won’t have to transfer the recipe to a casserole dish), heat olive oil on medium-low heat. Add in onions and cook on medium-low for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized.
  3. Add in garlic and whiskey. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the pan is deglazed and most of the liquid is burned off.
  4. Add in tomato paste, soy sauce, mustard and apple cider vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium-low, or until the tomato paste has thinned out. 
  5. Add in the vegetable broth, smoked paprika, chili powder, liquid smoke, maple syrup and beans. Stir everything together until the beans are well coated. 
  6. Cover the beans and bake for 40-45 minutes. Uncover the beans and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Notes

For Slow Cooker Baked Beans, add all ingredients to the slow cooker, gently mix to combine and cover with the lid. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve immediately, still warm and right in the bowl of your slow cooker!

If you need them to be gluten-free too, swap out the soy sauce for tamari or liquid aminos. And make sure to use a certified gluten-free vegetable broth or water (the beans may need a touch more salt if you choose to use water).

Keywords: bbq, canned beans, no molasses

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