What’s the one dish you need to make your summer barbecue perfect? A dish of tasty baked beans! You’ll never go back to the canned version once you’ve tried my vegetarian baked beans recipe. This side dish is so easy to prepare and it all comes together in one pot. The beans are the perfect blend of savory, sweet, and smoky. The flavors really shine through in this dish and I love how the sauce caramelizes in the oven. It’s the perfect recipe for all of your favorite summer potlucks, picnics, and barbecues.
Beans are budget-friendly, nutritious, and easy to include in your weekly menu without having to work too hard. They are high in fiber, low in fat, and contain high amounts of key vitamins and minerals like manganese, iron, folate, and thiamine. Eating beans regularly is a great and affordable way of guaranteeing an adequate intake of protein, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian.
WHY WE LOVE HOMEMADE BAKED BEANS
- Easy to make. This vegetarian baked beans recipe is so simple to make, that even newbie cooks can do it. Just make the sauce, add the beans, throw everything in a casserole dish and bake for 1 hour. That’s it!
- Freezer-friendly dish. Make a big batch of this vegetarian baked beans recipe and enjoy it for family meals or even weekday lunches.
- A heart-healthy meal. This recipe uses tempeh bacon, which is low in fat and cholesterol-free. It’s flavorful and savory, and you still get the same crunchy texture and smoky flavor as traditional baked beans recipes.
- Full of flavor. What makes these homemade vegetarian baked beans sublime is the smokiness of the molasses complemented by the sweetness of the maple syrup and brown sugar. It’s divine!
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this vegetarian baked beans recipe:
- Cooked white beans
- Tempeh bacon
- Unsweetened apple butter
- Apple cider vinegar
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce
- Brown sugar
- Grainy mustard
- Sea salt
- Cooked white beans: I’m using Great Northern beans for this recipe. However, navy beans will also work.
- Tempeh bacon: The perfect vegan substitute for regular bacon. I like to use the smoky tempeh bacon strips from Lightlife because they have a savory yet sweet flavor.
- Apple butter: The base of the sauce.
- Molasses: Adds a smoky flavor to the beans.
- Apple cider vinegar: The key to the tanginess of this dish and balances out the sweetness of the brown sugar and maple syrup.
STEP 1: MAKE THE SAUCE
To make the beans, soak dried navy beans overnight. Rinse well, then add them to a large pot with fresh water. Bring to a boil then cook on medium-low heat for about 1 hour until the beans are tender. Drain the beans and set aside. Adding bay leaves or kombu sea vegetable during cooking helps to tenderize the beans.
Alternatively, you can make instant pot beans for a faster method. Place the dried beans in your Instant Pot with the recommended amount of water. Cook on high pressure for the directed time. Once the cooking time is done, let the pressure release naturally for at least 20 minutes before trying to do a quick release. Drain the beans and set aside.
If you’re using canned beans, pour them into a colander and run water over them to rinse the beans. Set aside.
Use a sharp knife to chop the onion. Set aside.
Heat up some olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Next, add the chopped onion and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onions soften and are starting to brown.
Add the apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and molasses. Give the mixture a stir for one minute. Next, add the brown sugar and grainy mustard. Cook and stir for another minute.
STEP 2: ADD THE BEANS
Add the cooked white beans to the sauce mixture in the pot.
Mix everything together then leave it to simmer over a low heat, partially uncovered, for around 5 minutes.
STEP 3: FRY THE TEMPEH BACON
Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat up for a minute or so.
Add the tempeh bacon strips and fry for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until they turn golden brown and become crispy.
STEP 4: BAKE THE BEANS
Transfer the baked beans and sauce into a lightly greased casserole dish.
Top with the fried tempeh bacon strips.
Bake uncovered in a preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour.
- Serving suggestions. Serve baked beans warm for best flavor. Baked beans make the perfect side dish to accompany your vegan mac and cheese and pair perfectly with your favorite burger.
- How to store baked beans. Baked beans will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Also, they can be frozen. Freeze the beans in individual containers or one large one. Make sure to let the beans come to room temperature before freezing, and freeze the same day you cook them.
- Bake in a skillet. If you have an appropriately-sized oven-safe skillet, you can use it to cook the sauce and bake the beans as well, instead of putting everything in a separate casserole dish.
- Spice it up. If you can stand the heat, add some paprika or cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or any spice you think might go well with these beans.
- Apple butter substitute. If you can’t find unsweetened apple butter, you can use ketchup or canned tomato sauce.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you make the best baked beans?
First, preheat the oven to 350°F. Next, sauté the aromatics (onions) in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the sauce ingredients (apple butter, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, grainy mustard) and stir. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then add the cooked beans and stir again. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish. Top with slices of tempeh bacon and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
What kind of beans do I use to make baked beans?
I like to use Great Northern or navy beans. You can use any other white beans that you have on hand, like cannellini, butter beans, or even black-eyed peas. Kidney beans can be used, but they will have a slightly different texture and flavor.
How do you make a can of beans taste better?
To level up canned baked beans and give them a boost of flavor, you can add sweet onions, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, and apple cider vinegar.
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Homemade Vegetarian Baked Beans
- Yield: 2 to 4 servings 1x
These vegetarian baked beans are made to perfection in a sweet and smoky sauce and topped with crunchy tempeh bacon.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced onion
⅓ cup unsweetened apple butter
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup molasses
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
2 cups cooked white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
4 strips Lightlife tempeh smoky bacon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium saucepan, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of the sea salt. Cook and stir for five minutes.
3. To the saucepan, add the apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, brown sugar, mustard and cooked beans. Stir until all of the ingredients are well combined.
4. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the Lightlife tempeh smoky bacon strips and fry for a few minutes on one side, until golden. Turn the strips to fry the other side for a few minutes.
5. Pour the baked bean mixture into a lightly greased medium size casserole dish. I used an 8 x 8-inch dish. Top with the strips of tempeh bacon. I baked my beans uncovered, but feel free to cover them with a lid or aluminum foil if you like your beans more moist and less dry. Bake for 1 hour. Serve warm.
If you prefer to use less variety of sweeteners, you can substitute an equal amount of one for another. For example, instead of using the 2 tbsp. of brown sugar, you could increase the maple syrup by 2 tbsp.
MORE BARBECUE RECIPES TO TRY!
- Who doesn’t love burgers? Try my veggie burger recipe that will have you going back for seconds!
- I’m always in the mood for some fresh corn on the cob, and this recipe shows you 3 easy ways how to prepare it.
- This is truly the best vegan coleslaw ever, and it’s really easy to make!
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