Slow Cooker “You’ll Never Miss the Bacon” Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

If you’ve ever wondered how many times food bloggers test the recipes they develop, well, if we’re going by this one: a whole frickin’ lot. From serving al-dente beans (think pebbles) at a family get-together to stirring a pot of beans after 12 hours of cooking and hearing the toddler on my hip declare, “mommy’s making soup!” – it took me a few tries to get these Crock Pot Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans right.

Crock Pot "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

After about eight (I’m not exaggerating) tries, though, I’d like to just blatantly toot my own horn and call this a winner.

Yes, yes. I did just use the word “toot” in a recipe post about beans. Not intentional, but my inner 12-year-old is giggling quite a bit. So I think I’m going to leave it.

So! These beans. First, let me just say that these are not authentic Boston baked beans. That would pretty much be impossible because the authentic version includes salt pork or bacon. And if we’re going vegetarian with these bad boys, well, meat is no bueno.

To add some smoky flavor back into the mix, I’ve included smoked paprika. A diced green bell pepper adds loads of flavor, too. By the way – I really wanted to include a jalapeno, too, to add a bit of heat and even a slight smoky element, but ultimately I just found that jalapenos vary too much in heat level to maintain a consistent recipe. So out they went. And instead, we’ve got a little cayenne and a few dashes of Tabasco for heat.

Crock Pot "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

How else do we add flavor? Dry mustard, onion, and vegetable broth instead of water, for starters. Water, by the way, will work fine as a substitute – veggie broth just deepens the flavors a bit.

Oh, and a bay leaf. Must have a bay leaf.

Crock Pot "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

But let’s not forget the most important ingredient of all, aside from the beans themselves.

Molasses, baby. Thick, black molasses. That’s what gives these Crock Pot baked beans their unmistakably Boston-y flavor. Molasses, along with brown sugar, mingles with the onion, pepper, and spices to create a sweet, rich vegetarian Boston baked bean extravaganza.

Crock Pot "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

Make these, and you’ll be tooting your own horn, too. Now go back and read the first six words of this sentence and giggle with the 12-year-old me. (Did I just go too far?)

Actually … speaking of. Did you know that’s why it’s so important to soak your beans (and discard that soaking liquid, and rinse well)? That helps remove many of the … gaseous compounds in beans.

All that’s left? Pure (vegetarian!) deliciousness.

Crock Pot "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

If you’re tasked with bringing the baked beans to a barbecue this summer, try this meatless version. Even if you’re a meat-eater yourself, I guarantee there’ll be a vegetarian at the party who will thank you immensely. Vegetarian baked beans can be such a nice, protein-packed, satiating option for the vegetarians – take this from a vegetarian who has eaten one too many “cheese buns” (that is, a hamburger bun with cheese melted inside) at barbecues past. And you know what else? The carnivores won’t miss the bacon, I swear. Win-win!

Oh, wait! I have one more thing to say about this recipe. Lord knows, I’ve made it enough times and thought about it enough times to where I’m going to have to stop myself at some point here.

So I tried this recipe in the oven the first couple of times, and finally, it dawned on me. Baked beans, the perfect summertime substantial side, baking in a hot oven for hours? No. No no. So I broke out my Crock Pot and made this a slow cooker recipe. I love using the slow cooker in the summer months – no heating up the kitchen - and nice and portable too.

Okay, I’m done. Go forth and eat delicious (vegetarian!) beans!

Print Recipe

Slow Cooker "You'll Never Miss the Bacon" Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

No bacon necessary! This meatless Boston baked bean recipe makes a tender, tasty, barbecue-worthy side that the vegetarians and the vegans at the party can enjoy along with everyone else. But the meat-eaters will love 'em, too!

Yield: Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 18 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried small white beans or navy beans
  • Water for soaking beans
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup molasses (I use Grandma's original)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the beans and sort through them, discarding any beans that look "off" or any foreign objects. Place in Crock Pot and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Cover and let soak overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well. Set soaked beans aside.
  2. Add onion, pepper, broth, molasses, brown sugar, olive oil, dry mustard, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to Crock Pot. Mix until combined. Stir in beans. Add bay leaf.
  3. Cook on high for 8-10 hours or on low for 12-14 hours. Note: Slow Cookers can vary, so the first time you make this, you may want check on it periodically and see if you need more broth or water after the first few hours. But don't worry, your beans shouldn't turn to mush! The molasses helps to prevent that.
  4. Leftover beans keep up to three days refrigerated in an airtight container. They also freeze well.

Prep time includes 8 hours soaking time and about 15 minutes hands-on time.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a portion of the proceeds.

   

12 Responses to “Slow Cooker “You’ll Never Miss the Bacon” Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans”

  1. JulieD posted on June 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Looks fantastic!! I have to try this soon! :)

  2. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl posted on June 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I have never made my own baked beans before, but now I REALLY want to try.. especially since this is vegetarian!! :)

  3. Jennifer posted on July 2, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Do you think something could be substituted for the mustard? Or do you think it’d taste fine just omitting it? I wish I didn’t have to ask, but I’m sensitive to mustard (and last time I ignored that fact I ended up with hives). They look delicious.

    • Karen Raye replied on July 5th, 2014 on 8:39 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I’ve heard of both wasabi powder and horseradish powder as substitutes for dry mustard, but I can’t vouch for how they taste. Maybe go lightly the first time around and see? The dry mustard definitely adds nice flavor, so I think I’d try to substitute before omitting. Hives – eek! I think you’re right to steer clear! :)

  4. dinad posted on July 5, 2014 at 7:31 am

    these look like amazing baked beans. i have a vegetarian who would love these!

  5. Steve posted on July 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

    These look terrific! However, I do not own a crock pot. How can these be prepared?

    • Karen Raye replied on July 7th, 2014 on 9:22 am

      You can also cook them in the oven in a cast iron pot. But you’ll want to increase the broth – double, triple, or even quadruple it, and keep an eye on the liquid level as they cook. I’d say about 4 hours at 350 degrees or so. Hope that helps! :)

  6. Bobbir posted on August 16, 2014 at 8:36 am

    just put this together..Dug out my old Rival crock pot (at least 30 years old), crock is working and I cant wait. Thank you for this recipe. I like baked beans but since becoming vegan I wont eat them. Thank you again

  7. saskia posted on August 26, 2014 at 5:00 am

    How much onion? you mention it in the instructions, but not in the ingredients. I’m currently soaking my beans. very excited about making these

    • Karen Raye replied on August 26th, 2014 on 7:31 am

      Whew, you scared me! It’s there in the ingredients. :) 1 medium yellow onion. I hope you love them!

  8. Becky posted on October 19, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Hello!
    These look delicious, I’m just soaking my beans and looking for the perfect recipe! I’m a baked bean newbie, I’ve been using the tins for years and only just realised how bad the actual tin is to the food :/. So, here I am, making my own baked beans. They look and sound fab, however il was wondering about the sauce? I love a thick rich tomato sauce, does this have that? I can’t tell lol. 
    Becky

    • Karen Raye replied on October 21st, 2014 on 4:06 pm

      It’s definitely saucy (the sauce thickens and does absorb a little as the beans cool). But these might not be the super saucy tomato-y baked beans that you are after. Maybe search for a barbecue baked beans recipe? Now I feel the need to create one – thank you for the idea. :) I’m kind of obsessed with Crock Pot baked beans!

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