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What Are Vegan Baked Beans?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Vegan baked beans do not contain any animal products, such as pork fat or pieces of bacon, which are both frequently used to flavor traditional baked beans. This is a dish frequently eaten on the side at barbecues or when camping because it is flavorful, filling, and relatively easy to make. In general, anything labeled as "vegetarian" baked beans can also be considered vegan baked beans, because dairy is not a usual ingredient in baked beans unless cheese is added for some reason, which is not particularly common. This dish can be purchased pre-made in a can and simply heated up, or it may be homemade to adjust the seasonings.

In general, vegan baked beans are made with navy beans or pinto beans. Purchased dry, these will need to be pre-soaked and then cooked before being made into baked beans. If they are purchased in a can, they will just need to be heated, which is slightly easier but generally a bit more expensive. Anyone making large batches of baked beans, such as for a picnic, will probably want to purchase dry beans in bulk. The rest of the ingredients added to the baked beans are largely related to personal preference, but they usually include a mixture of spicy and sweet flavors for a nice balance.

Navy beans, which can be used to make vegan baked beans.
Navy beans, which can be used to make vegan baked beans.

Onion and garlic powder, as well as dry mustard, can be easy ways to season the beans; fresh ingredients can work as well, but they should be chopped very small. Ingredients such as tomato paste or tomato sauce, molasses, and soy sauce are often used to make the sauce. Some people will also add olive oil, or cider vinegar, for different flavors. To sweeten it, brown sugar can also be added; in a pinch, ketchup can even be used for a little additional flavor. There are a number of different recipes for vegan baked beans to be found simply by searching online, but this is a dish that is easy to experiment with.

Garlic powder can add flavor to vegan baked beans.
Garlic powder can add flavor to vegan baked beans.

Generally, once the actual beans are cooked through, making vegan baked beans is as simple as mixing all of the seasonings and sauce ingredients together in a pot, and heating it up. These can be reheated as well, which is part of what makes them a good choice for camping. This dish is also a great source of protein as well as fiber, which is important for anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet, since eating enough protein can be more of a challenge.

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Discussion Comments


For anybody looking for canned vegan baked beans, keep in mind that vegetarian baked beans can be vegan, but they aren't always vegan! I found a brand of canned vegetarian baked beans that looked great, only to find out after reading the label that they contained cheese.

Not cheese like they were flavored that way, but apparently powdered cheese was part of this brand's flavorings -- I ended up buying several cans before I realized what was in them, and then I had to give them away because I couldn't at them. Very frustrating! Always read the label before you buy.


@TheGraham - Ooh, the liquid smoke flavoring stuff is a great idea! So long as it's vegan, why not just add some straight barbeque sauce to the pot? It'll taste smoky and sweet all at once.


@seHiro - After reading this article I was shaking my head, thinking baked beans were impossible to make well without adding a ham bone -- the way my mom always made baked beans when I was growing up. After reading your post, though, I'm thinking on other ways to add flavor to beans.

What about curry? Do you think that would be good, or just strange? Curry works great in lentil recipes, I think it would go well with beans.

I like the article's suggestion to add brown sugar. I would go a step further and add some of that "liquid smoke" smoke flavoring to give it a really nice barbeque flavor without adding any meat at all. Sounds really yummy with your garlic recipe, too.


Wow...seems like my favorite baked beans recipe is technically vegan. I didn't even know it! I adore garlic, and use it in my cooking a lot. For my favorite kind of baked beans, I use generous amounts of garlic -- at least two or three full loves per pot, if not more.

To avoid chunkiness as the article mentioned when using fresh ingredients, I pre-cook the garlic. To do this, I peel the garlic cloves, chop them roughly, then simmer them in a small amount of water until they cook into a nice mush.

I add the mush to the baked beans when I first start cooking the beans, and it cooks down further, infusing garlic flavor into the backed beans. Add some onions in the same way if you like, and then add some salt, and voila! Yummy, yummy baked beans, vegan-style!

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    • Navy beans, which can be used to make vegan baked beans.
      By: BronxPhotog
      Navy beans, which can be used to make vegan baked beans.
    • Garlic powder can add flavor to vegan baked beans.
      By: Comugnero Silvana
      Garlic powder can add flavor to vegan baked beans.