You’ve got to make these vegan baked beans! Creamy, soft white beans enveloped in a sweet, smoky, herbaceous sauce spiked with the greatest syrup of all time: maple syrup. Full of plant-based protein and gut-friendly fiber, low in fat, and less sugar than a traditional baked bean recipe, it’s a fantastic breakfast item to add to your regular meal prep rotation. Pick a cool day to make this dish and get ready for coziness! Savour the maple-ness and celebrate a Happy Canada Day, my Canadian and wanna-be-Canadian-even-if-its-just-for-our-150th-birthday friends!
Click here to skip to the printable recipe.
You may have seen these in my recent What I Ate Wednesday video. If not, you can check that out below. In this video, I was inspired by viewer tea suggestions (from the previous week), enjoyed the fruits of my weekend meal prep labour (vegan baked beans), tried two new vegan ice cream flavours, and tried grilling vegan seitan sausages for the first time.
The first step is cooking dried navy beans from scratch. With traditional baked beans, the dried beans are cooked in the oven from start to finish but this takes 12 hours or more. With fire safety experts telling us to never go to bed with the oven on and Murphy’s Law being a thing, this is a problem. So pre-cooking the beans before baking is a good alternative. There’s nothing wrong with using canned beans either. You’ll just have more broken down beans in your final vegan baked beans. I like cooking from scratch because:
- dried beans are much cheaper
- dried beans are lighter in the grocery bags
- I can add extra flavour during cooking
- aquafaba can be made from the bean water
The beans take about an hour and a half to two hours to cook from scratch. This is without soaking the beans at all. Not too long ago, I read this article that convinced me to start cooking beans without soaking and it’s been going great. I just give them a rinse and look over to see if there are any pebbles or discoloured beans to pick out. I’ve never found a rock but I’ve heard of people breaking their teeth over them so I like to be careful.
Cook the beans in plenty of water and add salt. Contrary to popular belief, the salt doesn’t slow down cooking. It just adds flavour. On the same note, I add a big pinch of dried sea vegetables too. It adds a little bit more savory flavour; totally optional. I just have a never-ending packet of dried sea vegetables that I’m trying to use up. It’s been in my cupboard for years! Good thing they don’t go bad…to my knowledge.
When the beans are almost done, saute a chopped onion. Use a good amount of cooking oil to avoid burning and because that fat is going to add creaminess to our finished product. This recipe contains much less fat than the meat version but some fat is necessary. And since we’re not adding meat, we’ve got to add more plant-based flavour. So when the onion gets nice and golden, add in chopped scallion and chopped roasted red bell pepper. Scallion adds a different kind of onion-y sweetness. And roasted red bell pepper adds even more flavour.
When the beans are done, prepare the liquid ingredients. Mix molasses, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and spices with two cups of the bean cooking water. The hot bean water will help to dissolve the thick molasses. When the molasses is dissolved, add the tomato puree. Like the red pepper, tomato will add an extra layer of savoriness. Then combine the beans (drain them first and reserve the water), the sauteed onion mixture, and the molasses mixture in a prepared baking dish. I like lining my roasting pan with parchment just to make clean up easier. At this point, give them a taste and add salt and pepper, keeping in mind that much of the water will evaporate. I added about a teaspoon of salt but you might need more or less depending on your taste. If you’re unsure, play it safe and leave adding salt for after it’s all finished baking.
Bake for four hours. Yes, four hours. It does take that long for the beans and sauce to meld together and transform into a delicious, saucy, glossy mass. You will need to add water if they start looking dry and stir once or twice an hour as they bake uncovered in your preheated 325°F (160°C) oven. Like I said before, pick a chilly day to do this. Even in summer, one weekend is sure to be cold and rainy. Especially if it’s a long weekend. Murphy’s Law.
Someone is going to comment about using a pressure cooker for this. Or even an Instant Pot. To which I say, “Sure. You do you.” I don’t have those things. Feel free to send me one! 😉
Let your vegan baked beans rest a while before serving or dividing up into containers. One batch makes a little over eight x one cup servings. I like to put some in mason jars and then into the fridge where I’ll keep them for up to five days. The rest of the baked beans go into freezer-safe containers and into the freezer where they will stay good for up to two months. If you have more mouths to feed, you may want to make bigger batches and you may need to adjust your cooking times. Frankly, I’m so in love with these maple baked beans that I will probably double or triple the batch size the next time I make them. I hope you give them a try too and we can be breakfast twins! ha!
Printable recipe for vegan Maple Baked Beans
This recipe takes a little over 4 hours when made with pre-cooked beans. Allow extra time if you are cooking beans from scratch.
This recipe makes 8 x 1-cup servings.
This recipe uses US measurements. I hope to have the metric weight version up soon.
- 2 cups dried navy beans*
- 6+ cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- optional: big pinch of dried sea vegetables
- 6-7 cups cooked navy beans (about 3 large cans worth)
- cooking oil*
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cups of bean-cooking water or 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup light or fancy molasses
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (hot or mild)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (blend of rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano)
- salt + pepper to taste
- Rinse and drain uncooked dried navy beans to get rid of any surface dirt. In a large pot, combine the beans with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 6 cups of water. Optionally, add a large pinch of mixed sea vegetables for extra flavour. Do not add if you dislike the flavour of seaweed! Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a simmer (medium heat). Simmer for 60-75 minutes or until the beans skins are still mostly intact but insides should be soft and creamy. Add more water if the level drops below one inch over the beans.
- Drain the beans and keep 3 cups of the bean water. If you prefer to discard the bean water, prepare 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth as a replacement.
- While the beans are cooking, heat a pan over medium heat with a tablespoon or so of oil. When hot, add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until the onions are translucent and starting to brown. Add the scallions and roasted red bell pepper and cook a few more minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F or 160°C. Prepare a large casserole dish or roasting pan. You may use parchment paper for easier clean up or not. Up to you!
- Combine molasses with 2 cups of hot bean water (or low sodium vegetable broth) and stir until the molasses is dissolved. Stir in tomato puree, maple syrup and red wine vinegar. Reserve the last cup of bean water.
- In the prepared roasting pan or casserole dish, combine the cooked drained beans, molasses mixture, and sauteed onion mixture. Add smoked paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder and poultry seasoning and stir until everything is well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Remember that the flavours will become more intense after baking.
- Baked uncovered in your preheated oven for 4 hours. After 2 hours, stir the beans. If it seems dry, add a little of the bean water (or use water if you used broth before). Once or twice during the 3rd and 4th hours, stir the beans so that the bottom layer gets a chance at the top. We want the sauce to get thicker and glossier from the exposure. Remove the beans when the sauce is quite thick, glossy and the beans are flavourful throughout.
- Serve hot with good bread and pickles. Cool before storing in air-tight containers. They can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to two months.
- *Use any neutral flavoured cooking oil that you like. For creamier, smoother texture, use refined coconut oil.