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!

Total Time: 18 hours 15 minutes

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!

Important Note

I’ve had a couple of people report back that this recipe didn’t work for them, for various reasons (see comments). I tested this recipe a gazillion times over so I’m not sure what is going wrong for them. I’m keeping this recipe up because I believe in it but I will continue to test and hopefully replicate any issues – and solve them.

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

Yield: Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 18 hours 15 minutes

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!


  • 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)



  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.

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

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

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

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

  3. 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.

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

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

    • 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. 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. 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

  8. 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. 

    • 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!

  9. I just put these in the crock…now i just …wait :)
    But.. i used raw sugar and i didn’t put molasses…trying not to use too much sugar ..calories…
    I hope it comes out good .. i really love the smell of smoked paprika , i never knew about it wow..:) I tried the broth and it seemed sweet enough..
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Diana, I hope you love them! The molasses does do some magic by helping keep the beans from getting mushy, so if your result is a little mushier, that might be why. I’m sure they’ll still taste fabulous though!

  10. could you use canned beans or are dried better?

    • The recipe accounts for using dried beans because the beans cook in the sauce. But you can absolutely use canned! I’d just reduce the broth a bit (maybe even leave it out entirely) and cook for less time overall. I haven’t tried this recipe this way so I can’t guarantee fantastic results, but I do think they should still be delicious!

  11. This recipe looks wonderful. I am wondering if you can share the oven directions that you were following before switching to the crockpot. I volunteer in a line of hope and prepare food for the homeless and I would like to do a larger quantity than my crockpot would hold. Your time/temp would be a great starting place for me to make a large quantity to serve. Because yumm! Thanks

  12. I tried to post this but for some reason my comment isn’t showing up….

    I made these last night! I had to double the recipe for a larger party, but here’s the changes I made:

    1.5 cups of broth (I bought lower sodium broth)
    1 small can of tomato sauce
    1 small can of tomato paste
    4 tsp of salt (I don’t like to over salt and there’s salt in the broth and canned tomato)
    3/4 cup of molasses
    +/- 3/4 cup brown sugar…I didn’t pack it or measure too accurately

    The house smelled amazing when I woke up this morning and they taste delicious!!!!!

  13. This recipe is fantastic! I’m about to make them for the third time. The only thing I do differently, everyone’s taste being a little different, is use half the sugar. I love pork/bacon, but my gallbladder won’t let me eat it anymore, so I reluctantly, and skeptically, searched for a recipe, found this one and thank goodness because I’ll never need to find another. Truly, I do not miss the meat/fat thanks to this recipe!

  14. I’ve never liked baked beans but as pregnant women could relate, I got a strong craving for baked beans that could not be ignored. My husband found this seemingly simple sounding recipe (and we had all the ingredients for it already). After cooking for 6 hours on high and nearly 12 hours on low the beans are still crunchy and they do NOT smell as good as it all did going together last night. The sauce is still soupy and the whole thing just is no where near as appetizing to look at as your version.

    I’d like to avoid making these 8 times before they turn out right, any tips tricks or majic you could share would be greatly appreciated :)

  15. I couldn’t be more of a meat eater if I tried, but I want to start cutting fat from my diet. This dish looks absolutely amazing. I’m definitely going to try this. (I may need some cooking help from my wife though as I’m a total klutz in the kitchen.)

    Thank you for sharing this!

  16. I have this sitting in the crockpot today while I’m at work. I made a few adjustments/additions just to meet our tastes and to accommodate what I had on hand. I can’t wait to walk in the door tonight and smell the aroma.
    This will be a first for me….so I hope they turn out :)

  17. I am making the beans now and I am very excited to offer these to my vegetarian friends who are coming over for dinner! But I do not have 12 hours, so I quick-soaked, rinsed, and then cooked the beans on the stove BEFORE adding all the yummy ingredients into the crock pot. I am putting this out there as a suggestion to those who were not getting the beans to soften during cooking. I have read that tomato sauce keeps the beans from cooking, so it may be better to add it later in the cooking process. Thanks for the great recipe!

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