Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans are the ideal side dish for summer grilling season and they could not be any easier to make from scratch. Using dried beans gives this dish a delicious bite and nutty texture but canned beans work fine too.
Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans are the ideal side dish and they could not be any easier to make from scratch.
It probably isn’t a huge surprise that my husband who was born and raised in Boston adores baked beans. Of course, he would be perfectly happy re-heating them from a can but that’s no fun. (And don’t get me started on some ingredient lists I’ve seen.)
When I realized how easy these were to make, I kicked myself for not making them more often. But truth be told, my Aunt Patsy is the Baked Beans Queen of our family and serves them at almost every warm-weather gathering. Aunt Patsy showing up to a summer gathering without baked beans would be like me showing up to Thanksgiving without a platter of hummus.
If you know anything about my Aunt Patsy, you know she would never make a batch of beans without massive amounts of smoky and delicious bacon. I’m not anti-bacon, I just rarely have it sitting around in our fridge. To give these beans that unmistakable smoky flavor we crave, I relied on my BFF, smoked paprika. Let me tell you – it did not let me down. My husband and 21 month old devoured these and I know your family will too.
Your fork is waiting.
Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
- 1 pound dried beans ((navy beans,Great Northern, pinto, etc.))
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ¼ cup ketchup or tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Omit if you're looking to make vegan)
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and sort dried beans then place in slow cooker covered with 2 inches of water and let soak overnight.
- In the morning, drain the beans then add back to the slow cooker along with all remaining ingredients.
- Add 2 1/2 cups fresh water plus a good pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
- Check for seasoning before serving.
This looks like a fabulous recipe, and I love that it doesn’t have a ton of sugar in it! I am thinking of making several batches for a graduation party — have you ever tried freezing them? I was hoping to make a couple batches a week and freeze them until the party later in June.
I never have but that’s a great idea. Will you let me know how it turns out?
I freeze the beans I make all the time because I am the only one in my family who is vegan. We have a food saver so I freeze them in 2 or 3 portion sizes and then I have enough for a couple of days when I defrost. Beans freeze great, doesn’t even change the texture of them.
Such a great idea!!
Love this recipe and am gathering ingredients! But I did have a question… So you just soak the beans overnight but you do not begin cooking them until they are mixed with the other ingredients? The beans will cook soft enough?
Yes exactly! You cook once they are mixed with the others!!
I really really wanted these to be great!! But 13 hours in the slow cooker and they beans are still crunchy! Crunchy baked beans are not good :(
Hi Shannon – I’m so sorry these didn’t turn out for you! Do you know if your beans were expired? I know that often the cook time can vary if the beans aren’t fresh. We buy ours from a local farmers so we know they were fresh and I wonder if that is part of the reason yours didn’t cook in 13 hours. So sorry!!
The age of the beans do not matter if you pressure-can them before adding to recipes. Store bought are never as good as home cooked. Use extreme caution to cook outside of jars. Over frothing would glog the vent pipe and cause a hazard. Tender and delicious never tasted so good. Thanks for sharing. Cant wait ti taste them.
I found this recipe when searching for a vegetarian recipe, Spanish paprika is the answer to that lovely smokiness of baked beans, and you can use a vegetarian Worchester sire sauce. However I disagree with Joanne above, this recipe does have a ton of sugar “diabetes anyone “. I have reduced the sugar in this recipe from two thirds of a cup, to 2 tablespoons of molasses, I also cut the amount of beans in half, but keeping all the other ingredients the same. I use a non-prepared mustard, something that has a nice strong bite of real mustard, I also eliminated the vinegar because these types of mustards tend to be more vinegary, plus the vinegar in the ketchup.
I have found that soaking your beans overnight results in a tough skin no matter how long you cook them. I simmer my beans in plenty of freshwater until tender but not done, drain the water and replace with 2 1/2 cups of fresh boiling water, and all the other ingredients. I cook them in the oven at 350° uncovered until the liquids cooks down to a nice thick deliciously delicious sauce. Do not salted beans until this last cooking phase in the oven, that also tends to make your beans tough and takes longer to cook them. Not sure how this would all work in a slow cooker, probably would be just fine.
I doubled the recipe and the flavor is promising, but 5 hours later on high and I have soup. I transferred to a pot and am hoping to steam off some fluid although, it’s hard to imagine the sauce getting thick and caramelized with the beans. It seemed like a lot of water to add, but I was trusting the recipe! Maybe I’ll try again with half the water. It’s nice to see a recipe that works with raw beans. Everyone uses canned these days!
Oh no – soup??? Yikes!! One thing I’ve noticed is that everyones beans are a little different in cook time based on how old they are. Keep me posted how it turned out!
If we are using canned beans, do we still have to soak overnight? Or no?
Hello, and thank you for this fabulous recipe!
The first time I tried this, I used the “sprouted beans” that I got from Costco (they say no soaking required and are a mix). Those beans never cook, and the bag was fresh. We had to eat them crunchy in the end, but the flavor from your recipe was excellent.
I am making this again with pinto beans. I’m wondering about the water content, though. My package says to fill the slow cooker to 1-2 inches of water over the top of the beans. This ends up being over 3 cups of water per lb of beans. Does this sound correct to you? If I add all of the other ingredients, then have to drain my beans, I lose a lot of the flavor. But, if I don’t add enough water (and I’m cooking 2lbs), my beans will burn and not cook. Oh, the stress! ha ha
Anyway, I am super excited to get to eat these beans! The flavor was so delicious that we were willing to eat all of the “not fully cooked” costco beans. The beans done right will be absolute perfection!
So, as a little side note, I was searching for a recipe for beans that was like what my mother made when I was a kid. Everybody loved her beans, but I could never manage to duplicate them. I saw your recipe posted on facebook and thought it was close enough that I would give it a whirl. This is exactly what I was looking for! My mother added sausage – some big sausage thing that comes in a package in the shape of a U. We’re vegetarian, so don’t want the sausage, of course. This is the recipe, though! This was absolutely the right flavor, and now I understand that what she made must have been “Boston Baked Beans”. Thank you! My life is complete.
Oh I’m so thrilled to hear this – you have made my day!!! As for the water, I find it varies so much with the beans depending on size and age. Mine were fresh from a local farm so I am wondering if that’s why mine turned out differently. I will be testing again soon. Keep me posted ok? So glad you love the flavor so much!
I will be trying out this recipe this weekend for Mother’s Day… I will be using an assortment of canned beans for time saving purposes. Will I still need to add the 2.5 cups of water the crock pot since I am using the canned? This may be a silly question.
Hi Hillary – I’ve never made them with canned beans but you would not need the water I’m assuming!! Good luck!
Hi, I can’t wait to try this recipe. Do you use a variety of beans at one time or should I just stick with one type of bean? Thanks so much!
You can do either way!! Won’t matter!
I had similar issues with the beans softening after cooking for 8 hours, I guess I might try the tomatoes and seasoning trick mentioned above next time.
I’m also a little confused by the nutritional information you have posted for this recipe. A pound of dry navy beans has 1530 calories and a pound of pinto beans has 1575. This means that 8 servings of beans alone would be close to 200 . Unless of course the recipe yields 2x 1/2cup serving for 8 people (which is a little disingenuous), I think the information posted might be incorrect.
First, I’m so sorry you had trouble with this recipe!! This is a family favorite of ours (my husband is from Boston) so I want to help make it work for you! Second, with regards to the beans softening after soaking over night – are they fresh beans? I know that older beans tend to require more time but most beans should cook perfectly with an overnight soak and proper cooking time. My beans did happen to come from a local farm so I know they were freshly harvested. Third, with regards to the nutrition facts – may I ask what makes you think a pound of dry navy beans is 1530 calories? I’ve checked over 3 sources now and my nutrition facts remain accurate. The thought is that a one pound bag of beans (2 cups measured when dry) yields 4-6 cups cooked which would technically be 8-12 servings (I kept it at 8 to be safe.) Does that clear things up a bit? Let me know. Sorry again for any confusion or trouble! We love this recipe and I want you to love it too!
Thanks for the reply!
No need to apologize – I wasn’t trying to fault your recipe just wanted to get some information. I’ve been working my way through your slow cooker recipes which have all turned out wonderfully thus far.
Could definitely be an issue with the beans being a bit older – when I try this again I will be sure to try to use fresher stock!
The confusion has definitely arisen from miscalculating 1lbs into g rather than cups on my part. Makes quite a difference!! Thank you very much for taking the time to clear this up, I appreciate it.
Oh I’m so glad to clear things up!!! Enjoy!
There is such a product as Vegan Worcestershire. you can find it mostly in natural health food store. And if you eat enough beans you will no longer need Beano. I am no more or less gassy that your average Joe. I eat beans about 3-5 times a week.
Thank you for the info on the vegan worcestershire!!
These beans are awesome! Sooooo yummy! The recipe goes on the regulars list. Thankyou so much. Ronald, Melbourne, Australia.
So glad you enjoyed them!
Sadly, this recipe did not work for me at all. I followed your instructions to a T but the beans never softened. I cooked them on high for 4 hours and then when they were still hard I set them for 8 more hours on low. After some research I think I should have cooked the beans without any seasoning first, and then added the tomato and salt AFTER they had softened. After about 12 hours, they are still nearly as hard as they were after soaking. I’ll have to find another recipe. :-(
Oh Eileen I am so sorry to hear this recipe did not work for you! One thing I’ve learned is that the cooking time varies based on the age/freshness of the dried beans. I’ve made this recipe many times with no issues but certainly that doesn’t make your situation any better. Regardless, I am so sorry and hope you continue to try and trust my recipes. I appreciate the feedback!! I’m going to add a note about the varying time to the recipe. Thanks again.
I’m fairly new to cooking with dried beans, and have also read that the age of the beans is pretty crucial. I’ll probably apply the no-tomatoes-or-salt-until-the-beans-have-softened rule going forward just to be safe, but I think I’ll give your recipe another try, maybe even today (I’m really craving baked beans!), because the house smelled incredible all day yesterday. Thanks for responding!!
It took almost 2 days for my beans and the taste is too strong and bitter. My husband said it tasted like vinegar. I added a lot more brown sugar but i think i will try to cook the beans some first. I saw a recipe where the cooked the beans for an hour. I thought that was too much but now think it is the way to go!
Oh no…. I’m so sorry this didn’t turn out for you!! We make them all the time but I like the idea of cooking the beans for an hour. I used farm fresh dried beans and I’m wondering if that is part of it. I will re-test this with other beans soon. So sorry.
I love homemade baked beans but often have the problem of underdone beans. I have discovered that what works for me is to soak the beans for 24 hours, then cook them for 8hours low in the slow cooker (overnight usually for me) then in the morning add all the ingredients except the water, then cook on low another 8 hours. This works especially well for recipes using tomato. I live in the dessert so my beans are probably very dry, no matter how fast I use them. I just tripled this recipe and it is in the slow cooker right now, smells amazing! Thanks for the recipe
That’s a really great tip Stephanie!! I hope you enjoy!
I forgot to mention that I drain off the water after cooking the beans, and add fresh water if any more liquid is needed after the other ingredients are in.
Great tip – thank you again Stephanie!! Enjoy!
I love this recipe! I just cook the beans for a while with everything but the tomato based ingredients and add those when the beans are softened.
xoxo Love seeing your name!
I love baked beans and make them often from dried. I soak overnight, change water, and simmer till almost tender. Only then do I add my seasoning, very similar to this recipe. DO NOT ADD SALT UNTIL BEANS ARE TENDER. Only add salt during the final flavouring stage. If salt is added when the beans are first cooking, no amount of simmering will tenderize them.
Ahh great tip!!
FYI- Worcestershire Sauce is not normally vegetarian as it contains anchovies. You can find vegan Worcestershire in some stores but as written this recipe is not vegetarian.
Hi Lee – Not sure if you read my recipe but I did make a note of the Worcestershire sauce for everyone to see who might be vegan. :) Thank you!!
I made this tonight. Delicious flavour! I thought I had smoked paprika in the house but had chipotle chilli powder instead. I used 1/2 tsp of that and a heaping tsp of regular paprika. I also didn’t have white balsamic vinegar and used regular instead. My beans must’ve been old as it took forever to cook even after turning it up to high for the last 4 hours. Just a note for anyone else making these- leave yourself a lot of time so beans are done!
I’m so glad you liked it!!! You’re right – the age of your beans can definitely make a difference. Thank you for noting that!!
Omit Worcestershire if you want a vegetarian recipe. A VEGETARIAN recipe. Not Vegan. You are still being misleading since most vegetarians would not want to eat fish byproducts. Not trying to be mean but if someone wasn’t aware they wouldn’t realize they are a)not vegan or b) not VEGETARIAN like your header says. I’m aware of this, having been a vegetarian for 10+ years, but going to events people always try to make an option and if recipes are misleading, you will get some people angry and possibly even sick. Please change your heading or take out the sauce or in the least change it in the fine print to not vegetarian friendly. It would be like me labeling a bacon recipe as kosher? Most vegetarians are passionate about their lifestyle, and I am really not trying to be mean but when I came across this recipe it made me sad that someone could unknowingly be fed animal byproducts because you have mislead them and called this recipe vegetarian, and included only a small note to omit w.s. For it to be vegan.
is yellow mustard like French’s or actual seeds?
Yes like French’s! :)
I tried these, but the beans seemed underdone. I soaked them for about 15 hours, then cooked on medium heat for 9 hours. While I do understand they wont be as soft as canned beans, do you have any suggestions to make them a little more well done? The flavor was great so I want to keep trying until I get it right. Great recipe!
Shoot! I suppose my only answer is to keep cooking until the beans are cooked through. If you need more liquid, go ahead and add more. From what I’ve read online, ultimate cook time can vary a bit depending on the age of the beans. I hope these finally cooked through for you!!!
These aren’t vegetarian baked beans because the Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it, which unless you are a pescetarian is not vegetarian friendly. Just thought you should know and make a note of it for other readers. Sounds like a great recipe, any ideas for what I could use as a substitute for the Worcestershire sauce so that I can make this for my veggie boyfriend?
Yes I know – I made a note in the recipe to omit the Worcestershire sauce to make vegan. I would just leave it out for him! It’s great without it. :-) Enjoy!
FYI – Trader Joe’s makes a vegan, anchovy-free Worchestershire sauce.
Thank you so much!! Good to know!
I love baked beans in the summer time, a classic. This recipe sounds delicious :)
Me too!! And I love the crock pot because it doesn’t make the house too hot. :) xo
Not to be rude, but these baked beans are not vegetarian-friendly. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, which are obviously fish. Though most vegetarians know to simply leave this ingredient out, new vegetarians looking at this recipe may be accidently ingest something against their morals. I found this recipe upon searching google for a new vegan baked bean recipe and it appeared on the first page of results. As a 9 year vegan, I am asking you to please change the recipe or change the title of the recipe to omit the word vegetarian. Thank you.
Hi Rebecca, Thank you so much for your candid feedback – you are not being rude at all! And forgive me because I did know that Worcestershire sauce contains fish. I made a note to omit it if people are vegan. Thank you again for your comment – and I hope you enjoy these delicious beans!!
I found vegetarian Worcestershire sauce at the regular grocery store! Organic too :)
I am a long time vegan. I just made these, with Vegan worchestershire , that I purchased in the store. Says vegan right on the bottle. And,if you Google it, you can find recipes for homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce. Thanks for this recipe! They’re in the slow cooker right now!
Oh I’m so glad you made it!!
Actually there are several brands of Worstershire sauce which are vegan, just read your label. We use the Kroger brand, which is vegan. If you don’t have Kroger’s, you can check your local organic grocery…they’ll usually carry a brand specifically labeled vegan.
Yes good point – thanks Erin!