Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans

So you’re invited to a 4th of July BBQ next weekend, and they want you to bring a side. And of course the first thing your mind jumps to is BEANS!!

Oblique view of two bowls of vegetarian slow cooker baked beans with one bowl in the foreground and one in a diffused background.

Okay maybe not. Maybe that’s just me because I realize that not everyone has quite the obsession with beans that I do. I <3 beans. Whenever we eat Mexican food, the beans are always my very favorite part. Aren’t I such a weirdo?

But even if you aren’t obsessed with beans like I am, you probably realize that they are a super tasty food group (yes, I consider them their own food group). They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and textures, and they’re pretty darn good for you.

A black, square porcelain dish full of dry pinto beans

This time of year (the 4th of July time) is when baked beans really come into all their glory. They just go so well with all the other party fare, like grilled corn and potato salads and deviled eggs. Ahhh mazing.

Oblique close up view of a white, ceramic bowl full of vegetarian slow-cooker baked beans.

But, if you are a vegetarian, picking your way through all the meaty dishes can be pretty tough. Even the beans are usually made with bacon. But worry not! Today I have for you a recipe for vegetarian baked beans, homemade right in the comfort of you own home. Ta-da!

Close up of a pinto beans being cooked in a stock pot.

Baked beans are usually made in the oven, cooking for 4-5 hours.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really ever feel like turning on my oven in the middle of summer, much less for 4 or 5 hours. Talk about a hot kitchen.

Top down view of a sauce for a vegetarian slow cooker baked beans.

The solution? Say it with me: sllloooowwww cooooookkkkerrrrr. Slow cooker!

So right here in one recipe I’ve got two summer BBQ solutions for you vegetarians living in warmer climates – Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans!

Close view of a vegetarian baked bean recipe inside of a slow cooker.

And they’re super delicious to boot.

These baked beans are so so easy. Here’s how it goes:

How to make vegetarian slow cooker baked beans:

  1. Boil beans, let soak 1 hour.
  2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
  3. Cook for 7-8 hours. Serve!

These taste way better than the canned variety – even the type that has the bacon. The flavors are so much more complex because they are fresh fresh, and the beans actually taste and feel like beans – not canned mush.

Two bowls of vegetarian slow cooker baked beans on white linen table cloth.

AJ also loved these. I made them right before I went down to Orange County to visit my parents and came back a few days later to find them totally gone. Now, this isn’t a small recipe, people. I’m pretty sure he ate baked beans for at least 2 meals per day the whole time I was gone.

Top down view of a single white ceramic bowl full of vegetarian slow cooker baked beans.

That’s a lot of beans.

I’ve got more 4th of July recipes coming your way this week, so stay tuned!

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Very close up view of a bowl full of Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Bean.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans


  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Barbecuing and Cookouts

Description

This vegetarian baked beans recipe is perfect for a summer BBQ! Super easy to make, healthy, and delicious, this recipe can’t be beat.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry navy beans, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Add the navy beans to a stockpot and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and let soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the soaked beans, then add to the slow cooker along with the onion and garlic.* Add the vegetable broth and mix.
  3. Mix together all the remaining ingredients except the salt, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp water. Mix well, then pour into the slow cooker and mix to combine.
  4. Cook on high for 7-8 hours, until beans are soft and the liquid has thickened a bit.
  5. Mix the cornstarch with the water, then add to the pot of beans and stir. Let sit about 5 minutes to thicken a bit before serving.

Notes

– For even better flavor, sautee the onion in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds, then transfer it all to the slow cooker.

Keywords: vegetarian, baked beans, cook outs, tailgating, game day, side dish, barbecue, grilling

What about you? What are your suggestions for vegan or vegetarian cookout, game day, or tailgating sides?

If this baked bean recipe toots your fruits, you’ll love these other vegan and vegetarian grilling and cookout recipes:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 24th, 2015. Last updated June 20th, 2018.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).

This vegetarian baked beans recipe is perfect for a summer BBQ or fall and winter games day parties and tailgating! Super easy to make, healthy, and delicious, this recipe can’t be beat. #vegetarianside #bakedbeans

52 thoughts on “Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans

  1. I’m still cooking these beans! Bfollowed directions. Put them in at 12pm. Still not done T 10:30 pm. Left them in low until 12am. Just turned them back on at 8:00am?Still not soft. However! The taste is perfect! Best and like my mother in law used to cook with pork!
    Can’t wait to the beans to soften up!

    • How weird! Sorry they aren’t cooking right. I know that sometimes if beans sit on the shelf for a long time at the grocery store they can become stale and not cook right.. I wonder if that happened. Did you make sure to bring them to a boil first and let them soak for an hour before cooking them in the slow cooker?

      Either way, I’m glad you like the flavor! Hopefully they soften up and become edible soon!

  2. Looks like a delicious recipe, but I have one question: Instead of adding the 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, what about doubling a few of the ingredients instead? I am looking for a lower sodium recipe and store-bought barbecue sauce is anything but.

    • Hi Doreen! You could try making your own low-sodium BBQ sauce, like this recipe. Or if you want to just double ingredients, here’s what I would try (no guarantees though!): use ketchup instead of BBQ sauce, increase the brown sugar by 2 Tbsp, add an extra tsp of molasses, and a tsp of paprika. If you give that a try then let me know!

  3. if your beans aren’t cooking you could rinse the sauce off the beans save the sauce, take the beans and reboil (gently) them for an hour or so, that may help if they do soften after boiling them drain the boil water and add the sauce back to them and bean on!!

  4. These were really filling and delicious on a toasted whole wheat hamburger bun topped with a simple vegan coleslaw. We all really enjoyed this.

    • I’m so glad you liked these, Joan! Sounds really tasty on a hamburger bun with coleslaw – definitely a great way to use these!

  5. Great Recipe…love them thank you, I am always looking for health bean recipes that are vegan. For those who are having a hard time getting the beans cooked….the texture of beans are affected by salt, acid almost everything…..the best is to soak them over night then fully cook them in water only to the tenderness you like then add them to the rest of the ingredients…..it works much better I do this on all bean recipes. Beans are sturdy and can be cooked a long time with out falling apart.

  6. I love beans; I was excited when I found this. I let my beans soak for about 10 hours (like I do with my other dry bean recipes) before I drained the beans and mixed in the ingredients. I was a little nervous about how soupy everything looked at first, so I turned the slow cooker to the highest setting in order render off as much extra moisture as possible. After cooking overnight, I turned the temperature down to warm. The beans were tender and the sauce ended up being a nice thickness. The dish got a lot of compliments. I never added the cornstarch or salt. Also, I would have never thought of using navy beans for a bbq baked beans dish, but they worked great.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • So glad these worked for you, Finbarr! The cornstarch will thicken up the sauce a bit more, but it’s good to know you found you didn’t need it. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment! ?

  7. With a blog title called My California Roots, I did not think these baked beans would taste like “southern” baked beans. I was wrong. They are delicious!! I love canned vegetarian baked beans…….these are better. They have the same taste but a little better, plus you know they don’t have all of the unrecognizable ingredients. I did not make any changes to the recipe at all. Cooked in the crockpot on high for 7 hours, 8 wouldn’t have hurt but 7 was still perfect. Yumm!

    • So glad you liked these and found them to be authentic tasting! I also really like that you know exactly what goes into them.. Much more peace of mind than eating them out of a can ? Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  8. Hey Raquel! Thanks for the recipe; these look sooooo tasty. One little problem though, have you tasted them with homemade BBQ sauce? I’m wondering how the taste / consistency / etc. will differ…? Commercial BBQ sauce is not ‘whole food’ 🙁

    • Hi Tonya! You can definitely use homemade BBQ sauce. The flavor will vary a bit, mostly based on the specific characteristics of your sauce. If yours is a bit less sweet than commercial stuff then you could add a bit more sugar. If your sauce is more runny than commercial stuff then you might need a bit of extra cornstarch. But overall they should turn out great!

    • Hmm… it’ll probably be okay… if it were me I would just go with it. And maybe have a can of beans ready in case they don’t turn out and you absolutely need to have them. Let me know how they turn out!

  9. Hi,

    I’m a little confused by the recipe. Do I add salt when I add the cornstarch mixture? Planning to make these this weekend for the father’s in my life.

    Thanks.

    Rhunette Pledger

    • I’m not sure… I’ve never tried. If I were going to try that then maybe use canned beans and just cook for 1-2 hours until everything is hot, then finish off with the cornstarch/water/salt?

  10. I made these for my dad for Father’s Day. They came out amazing!! I soaked the beans instead of boiling them, and added some liquid smoke for a more BBQ taste. I was pleasantly surprised since I only have made them with salt pork, but my dad is a vegetarian, so I tried these. Thank you for an easy recipe, that EVERYONE loved!

    • Adding liquid smoke is a great idea! Glad you and your family loved these, Valerie! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment 🙂

  11. I used Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ sauce and found half a cup to be insufficient. I upped the quantity of sauce to one cup, added a bit more corn starch at the end, and it turned out great! Delicious recipe, thanks for sharing.

  12. I can’t wait to try this! Is it necessary to soak the beans prior, however, seeing as they are going to be slow cooked for 8 hours?

    • Hi Callisto, soaking helps them digest easier and cook a bit quicker. So you can skip it, but they might take longer to cook.

  13. If I am making these a day in advance should I wait to ado the cornstarch until I’m ready to serve. Or add it and then refrigerate for a day? Thanks!

  14. I made these on Saturday, had a crockpot crisis and they ended up cooking from 10am until about 10am the next morning. They were delicious and not soggy. I can’t wait to make these for our office potluck next week! And to try more of your recipes!!

  15. I prepare a big pot of beans at least twice a month using heirloom beans. Yesterday I made your Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans using Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans and honestly they were the best vegetarian beans I’ve ever eaten. They were rich and flavorful and super easy. I sautéed the onions and garlic in a little olive oil first but other than that I followed the recipe exactly as you posted. Great recipe!

  16. Thank you for this amazing recipe. I am on a campaign to reduce the miscellaneous condiments, so I subbed Sriracha sauce for the chili paste. Because of the timing of my day, I also turned to beans to low after about 4 hours. Yum, can’t wait to try with different beans.

    • I am having a hard time finding dried navy beans. Can you recommend any other beans as a substitute? Pintos maybe? Thank you!

      • I haven’t tried this with anything other than navy beans, so I can’t really promise anything.. You could certainly try with Pintos, though! My guess is that it’ll turn out well, the beans will just be larger and maybe have a slight different flavor. Let me know how it turns out.

  17. Hmmm, they look so good! I love that you can just pop them into the slow cooker and forget about them.
    Beans (with maple syrup) are a traditional food in Québec and we eat them at major holidays and in the spring (when the maple trees start flowing again), but I always hated them as a child. Now that I’ve matured, they’ve also become one of my favourite dish on the table, though I need to watch out for the lard and make sure they’re vegan!
    I also recently discovered a recipe for English-style bean, with a smokey tomato sauce. Now I have one more recipe for when the cravings hit!

  18. Great recipe. My navy beans were a little old so it took them longer to cook. I cooked on high for about 10 hours then 4 hours on low. The sauce thickened up great. No need for corn starch. I didn’t have the chili garlic paste so I substituted prepared horseradish. Perfect! This was the first time I ever made homemade baked beans. Of course they are not as easy as opening a can but I had a lot of fun making them and I know exactly what is in them. The taste was better than canned and I have plenty left to freeze. I can’t wait to check out some of your other recipes. You are a good cook. Thanks!

  19. Hi Raquel. Your recipe (Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans) says it serves 10. How many cups are in a single serving, 1/2 cup, 1 cup or other? I follow the Weight Watchers program and need to know this so I can track my points properly. Thanks!

  20. I’ve had these in the slow cooker for a total of 12 hours and the beans still have a bit of a crunch. Has anyone else had that experience? I was hoping for that nice creamy texture, not mushy, but creamy. Good flavor, but I’m going to leave them in for even longer.

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