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 a 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
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x


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


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


  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 stir to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, molasses, chili garlic paste, barbecue sauce, and brown sugar until combined. Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Cook on high for 7-8 hours, until beans are soft and the liquid has thickened.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add to the pot of beans along with the salt and stir to combine. Let sit about 5 minutes to thicken a bit more before serving.


* 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.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Barbecuing and Cookouts

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.

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 merged into Foodal).

88 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.

  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… 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.


    Rhunette Pledger

  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.

  21. Love this recipe! How many cups are in a single serving? I’m adding everything to Cronometer but your recipe stats doesn’t list these details. Thanks.

    • To start, a standard serving of baked beans is about 1/2 cup, and 1 lb of dried beans will yield about 6 cups when cooked.

      We use Nutrifox to calculate our nutritional information (at the bottom of the recipe card) and it should reflect similar results to what you would find if you put this dish into Cronometer. Total volume of the cooked dish can vary versus the measurements of each ingredient before it is cooked- depending on how much liquid has cooked away, onions and garlic can vary in total volume depending on size, how finely they’re chopped, and how firmly they’re packed into a measuring cup, etc. If you divide each ingredient by 10, you should get your approximate total measurement per serving for nutrient calculating purposes. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Kate,

      This is usually a mixture of oil, garlic, salt, and red chilies, sometimes branded as a sauce or other times as a paste. You can make your own at home, but to save you the trouble, premade versions are easy to find in Asian markets or sections of the grocery store. Huy Fong’s Chili Garlic Sauce (sometimes referred to as “rooster sauce,” with a green lid) is my favorite.

      Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  22. I doubled the recipe in the slow cooker, boiled ahead of time. They have been cooking for 8 hours and are still a bit crunchy. The sauce didnt thicken too much with the cornstarch. I just put the crockpot back on high, hoping they cook further. I am making them for a party.

  23. Beans took 2x as long to cook. Going on 16 hours and just now getting tender. Didn’t need to add cornstarch mixture since sauce cooked for so long. I boiled beans and let soak 90 min before making.

  24. These baked beans were better than what I remember the original (bacon) version to be! They were smoky and rich, and mine came out just the right consistency. I did not have time to use dried beans, so I used 4 cans of great northern beans, and made the recipe in my crock pot, cooking for 6 hours. I could not find liquid smoke, so I bought a high-quality smoky bbq sauce and they turned out amazing!! Will definitely make again for my vegetarian daughter and I! We had these with vegan hot dogs, and it was a perfect pair!!

  25. A few possible issues to beans not softening: (1) next time try soaking the beans over night before boiling; (2) you may have stale beans which will never soften; (3) don’t add the vinegar or bbq sauce until the final couple hours, as I’ve read that the acid can cause beans to harden during cooking.

  26. This was my first time making baked beans from scratch. I absolutely loved these beans and I wouldn’t change a thing, from this recipe! And it’s always a bonus when the slow cooker does all the work!

  27. These were DELICIOUS! You can further simplify this recipe though. You do not need to pre-cook the navy beans. They are small enough that they will cook up in the slow cooker regardless of the acids in the sauce. I mixed everything together (including the washed beans) the night before in the slow cooker insert and added an extra 2 cups of water for the beans to soak up. I put the whole insert in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning all I had to do was start the insert on high around 8am and go about my day. They were perfect by the time dinner came around! I did end up adding the cornstarch and salt and the sauce was perfectly thick. This is a keeper!

  28. Why is there an asterisk by the veggie stock? Am I missing something? Should I add the veggie stock first? I’m just about to make this for the first time, thanks

    • Sorry for the confusion, Joyce! The asterisk is for the onion and garlic, and leads to a note at the bottom of the recipe saying you can saute these ingredients first for more depth of flavor. We’ve made an update so this is (hopefully!) more clear. Hope you enjoy the beans. 🙂

  29. Chili Garlic Paste — making recipe for 1 year old to 60 year old. Will the Chili Garlic Paste give it a kick? Don’t want hot spicy for toddler. Thanks 🙂

    • The Chili Garlic Paste can definitely raise the spice level. You can choose to leave it out – it won’t make or break the recipe, we promise!

  30. If I make these in my crock pot until they are done, can they be store in the fridge overnight and reheated in the oven? Have you ever tried to make them in advance? I am having a wedding reception in my yard and need a vegetarian bean recipe that can be heated the day of the wedding by my catering help. I have so much to do that day I cannot be making beans that may or may not be done on time. I would like to make them Friday and serve them Saturday.

    • Yes, absolutely! Baked beans reheat well. Be sure to give them a stir a couple of times so they’ll reheat all the way through, and enjoy the wedding reception!

  31. Great bean recipe!! I’ve actually incorporated this recipe to a pressure cooker recipe. I needed them in a couple of hours so I tried it in the pressure cooker and they were a huge success. I still boiled and soaked the beans and added everything on the recipe. Added the cornstarch after doing a slow steam release. Thank you so very much for your fabulous recipe.

  32. Fantastic recipe! As I was putting everything together I realized the navy beans I bought weighed 2 lbs and not one. I doubled the ingredients and all fit nicely in a 6-qt slow cooker and everything turned out amazing. I have so many beans! How many days do these keep?

    • Glad you liked it, Jess! Baked beans will store in the fridge for about 3-5 days, or they can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

  33. Beans turned out great. I did make a couple of adjustments, doubled the chilli paste to spice it up and cooked it in my bean pot on a smoker. I left the lid off for the first few hours to get a nice Smokey flavour. They thickened nicely and had a great sweet heat flavour overall.

  34. These are definitely the worst tasting “baked beans” I have ever tasted. If you are going to bake beans, do that. They aren’t the same texture in a crockpot, ever. These beans have an indescribable “funky” taste. A waste of ingredients and time.
    Certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

    • You obviously don’t know what your talking about these are delicious and turn out great everyone! You probably didn’t follow the directions

  35. These slow cooker baked beans are amazing. Canned baked beans have so much sodium. We are talking 1000mg per serving with many brands! We watch sodium content and with this recipe I can control the amount of salt, using low sodium or no salt vegetable broth, no salt ketchup and then my only salt is the bottled bbq sauce. Besides all that, they are delicious! I’ve probably made them 8-10 times over the last few years.

  36. Never made beans before. Thought I’d try it. Pulled an oopsie and only had slow cooker on low for first 6 hours, then put it on high for 4 hours. Last hour, took off lid and let liquid escape. No need for corn starch or salt. Also, did not have molasses on hand, so added a little more brown sugar. Maybe 30 mins of work total between getting the beans started boiling, cutting & sauteeing the onion and garlic, mixing all the ingredients together, and then turning on the slow cooker and walking away.

    People, these beans are not only simple, but they are SO delicious! If you like a little less tang in your life and a little more sweet, recommend a little less vinegar and a little more brown sugar.

    So good, I’m making another two batches this week for the freezer. Absolutely delightful. And so easy.

  37. I have been baking beans with this recipe for years. Just getting around to leaving a review!
    They are easy, delicious and I get requests all the time for pot luck get-togethers.


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