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Healthy Baked Beans (Instant Pot + Slow Cooker)

Healthy vegan Baked Beans made from scratch with dried beans are easy, customizable, and can be made in an Instant Pot or slow cooker with NO SOAKING required (soaked bean method is included)!

healthy baked beans in a white oval serving dish

If you’ve been looking for a great vegan baked beans recipe – especially one made in an Instant Pot – then I’ve got you covered! Made from scratch with dried beans, these healthy baked beans are full of nutrition, flavor & texture.

Since celebrating my daughter’s bon voyage with a BBQ, I’ve had the itch to make homemade baked beans. I bought my favorite ‘Celebration’ Field Roast to slice and grill (it’s great on the grill) and made canned baked beans, along with these Oven Roasted Red Potatoes and corn on the cob. Needless to say, it was supremely delicious and this family affair set in motion the need to make fresh baked beans!

Journey To The Perfect Baked Beans

The journey to the perfect baked beans has been inspired by readers who have taken the time to leave valuable feedback. This recipe is for no-soaking the beans, but now includes a method for soaking.

Thanks to the many readers who have made this recipe and shared their feedback, and along with my trials and errors, I think we’ve finally found the happy medium with both methods.

Just know that cooking times do vary, but both methods are ‘tried and true’ ensuring that your dried beans cook perfectly every time!

The end result of making these vegan baked beans is perfectly textured beans, with a robust flavor, that’s not too sweet, and has plenty of juices for dipping and swiping. It’s a healthy baked bean recipe I can stand behind 100%!

ingredients for baked beans on a circular wooden cutting board

Ingredient Notes + Tips

In this recipe,  dried beans (no canned beans) are cooked with a variety of flavors until tender, creating a most delicious and healthy baked beans recipe. Ingredients are fairly minimal and simple, you may even have everything on hand already!

Here is everything you will need:

  • Beans: Start with small white beans, navy or great northern are perfect. You can either choose to use the no-soak method or soak the beans first as noted in the recipe notes. Important tip: Make sure your beans are not expired, as older beans will not cook properly, and may remain hard and undercooked.
  • Spices: The main spices are simply smoked paprika, garlic + onion powder, pepper (pref. freshly cracked from the pepper mill), and salt (which will be added at the end to taste). I love bay leaves, but you can omit it if you like, as it’s pretty subtle.
  • Mustard: Use your favorite mustard. I used whole grain mustard here. I didn’t test regular or Dijon, but I’m sure they will be great too. If you try them, let us know in the comments.
  • Sweetener: The maple syrup will add a little sweetness, but not overwhelming in the least. If you prefer a sweet baked beans, add 2 – 3 extra tablespoons of syrup.
  • Vinegar: To add a slight tanginess, the apple cider vinegar works wonders. It also helps break the beans down for easier digestion! As recommended in the comments, try balsamic vinegar for variation (thanks Tom!).
  • Liquids: For maximum flavor, use all vegetable broth. Although, I tend to stick with a combo of vegetable broth and water, using half and half of each, with great results.
  • Tomato Paste: Personally, I don’t care for baked beans that are overly tomatoey in flavor. This recipe does call for a 1/4 cup tomato paste, but I didn’t find it to be too much at all. Feel to use a 6 oz can of tomato paste or omit the tomato paste altogether if you prefer.

Healthy Optional Add-Ins For Versatility –

  • Small diced jalapeno (add a few seeds for extra heat) – if you like heat, you’ll love this addition.
  • Diced green bell pepper – add a veggie and color.
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (unsulfured) – adds a really nice flavor!

So there you have it, now we’re ready to get cooking!

top down view of a ladle full of healthy vegan baked beans freshly cooked in an instant pot.

How To Make Healthy Baked Beans

You can easily make this no-soak baked beans recipe 1 of 2 ways:

(Note – The full printable recipe is at the bottom of this post)

  • Instant Pot: With this method you simply saute the onions and spices right in the instant pot. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on HIGH pressure for 75 minutes. Let steam release naturally, another 20 minutes or so. No need to soak the beans! But if you decide to soak the beans first, you can reduce liquids and cut the cook time down to 40 minutes (see recipe card notes).
  • Slow Cooker: Simply add all the ingredients to the bowl of your slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 10 – 12 hours. You may need to add water every so often during cooking depending on your slow cooker. No need to soak the beans. But if you do soak the beans first, you can cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or low 6 – 8 hours, reducing the liquids as well as noted in the recipe card.

Top Tips

  • Make it the day before! For the most incredible flavor that will out beat any canned baked beans, I highly recommend making the recipe a day ahead and reheating before serving. The flavors will deepen and become even more savory overnight.

Water To Beans Ratio:

If you are wondering how much water you should use when using unsoaked or soaked beans. Follow this guide:

  • Unsoaked Dried Beans: When using unsoaked beans, you will need 4 cups of water for both the instant pot and slow cooker methods. Using the slow cooker method, you may need to add extra during cooking depending on your slow cooker.
  • Soaked Dried Beans: When using soaked beans, you will need 2 cups of water when using the instant pot or slow cooker methods (see notes in the recipe card below).

Adjusting For Dietary Restrictions

  • Oil-free: When sauteing, use 1/4 cup water in place of oil.
  • Fat-free: When sauteing the onions, use 1/4 cup water in place of oil. Alternatively, skip the saute step completely.
side angle view of healthy baked beans in a serving dish.

How To Store

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container.
  • Freezer: Homemade baked beans are freezer friendly and freezes well for up to 2 – 3 months. To freeze, let cool completely and store in freezer safe containers (affiliate link), leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock (remove as much air as possible before zip locking). Let thaw before reheating.
  • Reheat: Simply re-warm on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals, stirring after each, until warm.

Serving Suggestions

Baked beans will go perfectly with any of these recipes. You may just find a new combination for the meal rotation!

If homemade baked beans were not on your list of things to make, I hope they are now. A staple for summer gatherings, they are perfect for BBQs, potlucks, and picnics.

baked beans on a plate with fork

More Easy Instant Pot Recipes!

If you try this baked beans recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

HEALTHY BAKED BEANS (VEGAN)

Healthy baked beans made with simple ingredients right in your Instant Pot or Slow Cooker. It’s a no-fuss recipe, just throw the ingredients in and let the cooker do the work!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 – 8 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: pressure cooker, slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon EACH garlic + onion powder
  • 1 1b. dried small white beans (navy or great northern) (2 cups), rinsed and odd beans removed (not soaked)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or half water + broth)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (use a 6oz. can for extra tomato flavor)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard (regular, dijon or whole grain)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/21 teaspoon mineral salt, or to taste

Optional add-ins for variation:

  • Small jalapeno, seeds removed and diced (add a few seeds for extra heat)
  • Small green bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 24 tablespoons unsulfured blackstrap molasses

Instructions

(These instructions are for the no-soak method, if using soaked beans, see notes below)

INSTANT POT (no soak method):

  1. Press the SAUTE setting on your Instant Pot and add 1/4 cup water. When hot, add onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and garlic powder, cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant, stirring frequently.
  2. Next add the beans, broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, bay leaves, ground pepper and salt, gently stir until the tomato paste is dissolved completely and everything is well combined.
  3. Attach the lid, and make sure the vent is in the SEALED position. Push the PRESSURE COOKER button, and manually set at HIGH for 75 minutes. When done, let the steam vent for 20 minutes. Move the vent to open, careful not to burn yourself as there may still be a little steam left. Remove lid and let cool a bit, add salt to taste. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Transfer beans to a serving dish.
  4. Beans will thicken once cooled. If too thick, add 2 tablespoons of water at a time, mix well, and repeat until desired consistency.

Total cooking time with coming to pressure is about 2 hours and 5 minutes.

SLOW COOKER (no-soak method):

  1. In bottom of slow cooker, add the onion, beans, maple syrup, vinegar, 4 cups water/broth, tomato paste, smoked paprika, garlic powder, mustard, pepper, and bay leaves. Gently stir, until the tomato paste has broken up and dissolved.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 8 – 10 hours. Check periodically, adding up to 1/2 cup more water as needed (I’ve used up to 1 + 1/2 cups for 8 hours). You will also want to check for doneness towards the end so the beans don’t overcook. Add salt to taste.

Store: Keep leftovers in and airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. These freeze wonderfully, and will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw before reheating.

Serves 6 – 8

Notes

Soaking Methods:

  • Long soak: Add the beans to a large pot (or instant pot or slow cooker insert), pick through and discard any odd shaped or colored beans. Fill the pot with water, adding enough to cover the beans with an inch of water. Let soak on the counter for 8 hours, or overnight. You can also let the beans soak in the refrigerator if temperatures are high.
  • Quick Soak: If you’re in a hurry, place beans in pot and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain beans before using.

How To Cook Using Soaked Beans

  • Instant Pot: If soaking the beans, reduce liquids to 2 cups. Manually set the time for 40 minutes, instead of 75 minutes.
  • Slow-Cooker: Follow assembly instructions for slow cooker, reducing the liquids to 2.5 cups, and cook on HIGH for 4 – 5 hours or LOW for 8 – 10 hours. Check after a few hours, adding and extra 1/2 cup as needed if water burns away. Add salt to taste.

Use your favorite mustard. I used whole grain mustard here. I didn’t test regular or dijon, but I’m sure they’ll be great too. If you try them let us know in the comments.

These baked beans are not overly sweet. If you prefer sweet baked beans, add an extra 3 – 4 tablespoons of maple syrup after cooking when seasoning for flavor. Best to add at the end so they aren’t too sweet.

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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164 Comments

  1. Francine Grenon says:

    Love this recipe I doubled mine and added 4 cups for vegetable broth low sodium turn out great I also soaked the beans overnight and boiled them next day for 30 minutes I cooked mine in a slow cooker they turned out delicious I also added a bit more maple syrup will do these again a keeper thanks

  2. I made these beans a couple weeks ago and we loved them. Planning to make again . I would love to double the recipe . How much water +broth would I put in as I don’t thinking that would get doubled to 8 cups?

  3. John Falk says:

    I have made this several times and love it. Two suggestions:
    1 – don’t use that old paprika in the back of your spice cupboard – use a fresh, fragrent paprika
    2 – I like softer beans – I actually put this on pressure cook for two hours and the beans are perfect – not too hard, not too soft.

  4. I’ve made this three times now…twice in the last week!! Such an awesome recipe! The first time we found them delicious but maybe a little thin sauce-wise…but the second time they were on keep warm for a while because we were out running errands longer than expected. We ended up with thick sauce and super tender beans – the best I’ve ever made! So now they’re staying on keep warm for 1 hour 40 minutes every time I make them, lol!!

  5. Hi,
    I just made this recipe and the texture of the beans cane out fine but the beans have an odd aftertaste and I’m not sure what it could be. I used garlic instead of the powder and 3 tbsp of maple syrup and a little over 1/4 cup of fancy molasses. They’re not overly sweet but it has a strange aftertaste. I also used yellow mustard. Any idea what it could be or how I could fix the problem ?
    Thank you !

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Hmm, now really sure what it could be. My only guess would be to make sure to rinse the beans first and use the freshest ingredients possible. Hope that helps and your next batch is perfect!

  6. We are trying to reduce the amount of meat in our diet. We love maple baked beans in the can variety ; so we made your version today. Your recipe produced
    the best baked beans I have ever tasted. Thank-you ! Will be checking out
    your other recipes.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Wonderful, that makes my day! You can always add a little extra maple syrup if you like. I just made this a week ago for a family get together and added a little extra myself. Thanks so much for sharing, Norma!

  7. Jan Steven says:

    Amazing!

  8. This is the best kind of vegan update. It presses all the familiar buttons of the original, but is actually better. It also gave me a GOOD reason to haul out my hardly-ever-used Crock Pot. This is a keeper that I will make a lot. Delicious for breakfast on multigrain toast.

    Thanks for creating and sharing.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Baked beans on toast sounds amazing! Thanks so much for sharing, Mike!

  9. This was so freaking delicious! I made a few additions: added a tsp rosemary 1/4 tsp ground cayenne to add to the smoky depth of the smoked paprika and used dijon, used 300g navy beans cooked on the stove and finished in the oven for 3 hours. So YUM! I cant get over how flavorful and rich these are for so little effort! It’s become one of my favorite fall/winter recipes (with the added bonus of keeping my tiny apartment warm for a few hours!). Thank you soooo much for this incredible recipe

    1. Amber Wilcox says:

      Hi! If I soak the beams overnight do I discard or keep that water when I start cooking?

      1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

        I would say to discard the water, but you can also drain the beans and reserve the water to use when cooking. The bean water will be flavorful!

  10. I have just made the instant pot version. I did add black treacle. They are soooo tasty! Perfect for an autumn dinner.

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