Easy Homemade Vegan Baked Beans
Beans on toast has to be one of my all time favourite comforting breakfasts. These easy homemade vegan baked beans are filled with rich tomatoey flavour. Not to mention they’re super quick to throw together, and so much healthier than canned varieties too.
Why are homemade baked beans better?
You might be thinking “why on earth would I go to the effort of making baked beans, when I can just buy them in a can!?”. I don’t blame you for that, I was thinking that too before I tried making my own!
To start with, homemade vegan baked beans are just so much tastier. The sauce is thick, rich and tomatoey, with no artificial taste or sweetness. There’s a subtle sourness and saltiness from the apple cider vinegar and soy sauce, and a lovely natural sweetness from the sweet paprika. You can even add a touch of smoked paprika or liquid smoke, to add a delicious smoky flavour to the sauce.
These are also healthy baked beans. Canned baked beans contain heaps of processed sugars, salts, and additives. In this recipe, I add a little bit of maple syrup for sweetness, which is a healthier alternative to refined sugar. I add a bit of salt to taste at the end, but this is minimal, thanks to all of the other whole ingredients.
Which type of beans should I use?
The beans used in a classic can of English baked beans are haricot beans, also known as navy beans. I love using these beans as they have a lovely creamy texture, and hold their shape well in the sauce.
You could use any other type of white bean such as cannellini beans or great northern beans. You could even try this recipe with pinto beans or red kidney beans if you fancied something different!
On this occasion I used a mix of haricot beans and cannellini beans- because that’s what I had in the cupboard. Use what you have to keep the cost really low on this recipe!
Dried or canned?
I have used canned beans in this recipe, mainly because it makes the recipe really quick and simple. As they’re already cooked, all that is needed is for them to heat through in the sauce and soak up a little bit of flavour.
I have to admit that dried beans have a slightly better texture and flavour, but sometimes just aren’t worth the effort for me! If you want to go down this route, you’ll need to soak the beans for at least 5 hours, then cook them in the sauce for 1.5-2 hours. It’s not an exact science and depends on several different factors, but when the beans are soft and creamy textured, they’re done!
When it comes to the weight of dried beans you would need, you’d want to be looking at around 250-300g of dried beans for this recipe.
American vs English baked beans
It’s come to my attention recently that there is an American version of baked beans which is completely different from the English interpretation!
American baked beans are cooked with bacon or salt pork and plenty of brown sugar and molasses, resulting in a much sweeter and thicker sauce, which is darker in colour. They’re normally eaten as a side dish at BBQs and picnics (Americans, correct me if I’m wrong!).
These are not those beans. Although not a Heinz beans ‘replica’, these are closer to the English version of baked beans. Stewed in a much-less-sweet tomato based sauce, without any kind of pork or bacon, we British like to enjoy our baked beans over thickly sliced toast or on the side of a full English breakfast.
I may be biased, but I think that English baked beans sound much superior! We definitely have the best baked beans recipe!
How to make easy vegan baked beans
These homemade vegan baked beans are so simple to make, they pretty much cook themselves! Start by heating a little oil over a medium-low heat, in a large saucepan.
Add the chopped onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, until it’s softened and just starting to brown. Add the garlic powder and sweet paprika, then give it a stir for 2 minutes more.
Next, all you need to do is add the beans, tomato passata, tomato puree, maple syrup, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar. Mix it all together, then leave to simmer over a low heat, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste, and check the consistency. If you like your baked beans a little saucier, you can add a splash of boiling water or stock.
How to cook these beans in the instant pot…
This recipe is super versatile, and can also be cooked in the instant pot or slow cooker. There are definitely benefits to both of these methods of cooking.
In the instant pot, the beans are ready after 8 minutes of pressure cooking on high, making this a really quick option if you’re short on time! All you need to do is cook the onion on the saute function for 5 minutes, stir through the garlic powder and paprika, add the rest of the ingredients, mix and set to high for 8 minutes. You can quick release the pressure at the end of cooking.
…and the slow cooker
If you have the patience, slow cooking these homemade baked beans really develops the flavour of them, and definitely produces the tastiest result.
Like above, all you’ll need to do is fry off the onions for 5 minutes (in your slow cooker if it has a saute function, but you can do it in a pan if not). Then add the garlic powder and paprika, and stir through the rest of the ingredients. Set to high and cook for 4 hours, or slow and cook for 7 hours.
What to serve with homemade vegan baked beans
The true classic serving for baked beans is on top of buttered toast. Use your favourite bread (the thicker the better!), toast it to perfection, and slather it with dairy free butter. Then pile on the beans! You can even top this with dairy-free grated cheese for extra yumminess.
Baked beans are also great on top of a jacket potato, or as part of a fry up with silken tofu scramble, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, wilted spinach, hash browns and vegan sausages. You can literally eat them from a bowl with a spoon. Or go crazy- I’ve seen baked beans on chips, nachos, in a toastie, and even inside yorkshire puddings.
Yes, these beans will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, in an airtight container. Like a lot of stewed recipes, their flavour will develop over time, so they are even tastier made in advance. To reheat, give them a few minutes in the microwave or on the stove, until they are pipping hot through.
These homemade baked beans can be frozen, just pop them in an airtight container once cooled, and freeze for up to 3 months. To eat, defrost them in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a few hours, then reheat as above once defrosted.
This recipe multiplies fantastically, so is a fab option if you’re looking to batch cook your healthy baked beans to save buying cans in future. Double it or triple it, as long as you have a big enough pan it will work!
You might like these recipes:
- Vegan pot pie with jackfruit and butterbeans
- Chilli ‘non’ carne using black beans
- Creamy tomato spaghetti carbonara with a cannellini bean sauce
- Vegan Moroccan tagine with chickpeas
Easy Homemade Vegan Baked Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 400g cans white beans* drained and rinsed
- 250 g tomato passata
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or other natural sweetener
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by heating the oil over a medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, until it’s softened and just starting to brown.
- Add the garlic powder and sweet paprika, then give it a stir for 2 more minutes.
- After 2 minutes, add the beans, tomato passata, tomato puree, maple syrup, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine, then leave it to simmer over a low heat, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and check the consistency. If you like your baked beans a little saucier, you can add a splash of boiling water or stock.
- Serve on buttered toast or a jacket potato, or on the side on a vegan fry up!
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