This recipe was originally published in August 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
Baked beans, despite its name, don’t always need to be baked. In fact, you’re going to love making these in a crock pot. It’s truly a fuss free way to get delicious results with very little effort.
Dare I say, even better, creamier results than the traditional oven method?
Yup, I’m just going to say it.
These slow cooker baked beans are the BEST baked beans I’ve ever tasted, vegan or otherwise.
The slow cooking process really gives the beans a chance to absorb all the delicious flavour and take this dish to the next level.
Bonus, this dish can be prepared in minutes. The only hard part is waiting for the magic to happen.
If you didn’t plan ahead or don’t have the time to wait, try my Instant pot baked beans instead.
Where’s the meat?
I promise you won’t miss the meat in these vegetarian baked beans. The savoury and smoky flavour you’re after is very prominent here with the help of smoked paprika, and other spices.
In fact, if you don’t tell anyone, they probably won’t even notice that this dish is, not only vegetarian, but vegan friendly too.
How to make slow cooker baked beans
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Firstly, soak your beans overnight for 10-12 hours or up to 24 hours is fine. If you forgot to soak them, see my quick soak method in the notes below.
Drain and rinse your beans and add them to your slow cooker, along with your finely chopped onion and garlic, and all remaining ingredients. (photo 1)
Mix everything together to combine, and make sure to mix very well. Everything will look watery before cooking them, but that’s perfectly fine. (photo 2)
Secure the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. Remove the lid and give them a good mix before serving. (photo 3)
EXPERT TIP: Remember that slow cookers vary greatly in strength, so keep an eye on your beans toward the end of cooking. Add more broth or water if needed, and cook until soft and creamy. Adjust seasoning to your preference and enjoy.
With very little prep involved, no precooking or sautéing, this easy baked beans recipe will quickly become your go-to! Just toss everything in, sit back and let the magic happen.
Can I bake them?
Yes, of course!
If you want bake these in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Add all the ingredients to an oven safe dish and stir everything together, make sure it’s well combined. Then bake for about 2 hours, until thickened and the sauce is mostly absorbed.
Check on them after an hour or so, give them a mix and add more liquid, if needed.
Tips to make the best slow cooker baked beans
- Soak the beans before cooking. Ideally, soaking overnight for 10-12 hours is best. I’ve even soaked for up to 24 hours before. The longer they soak, the softer they will be, and the quicker they will cook. See my quick soak method in the notes below if you forgot to soak them.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to your soaking water to help soften the beans even further. Plus, this has also been said to help rid beans of their gassy causing effects.
- Very finely chop your onion and garlic. The smaller the pieces, the better distribution you will have, making every single bean bursting with flavour.
- Don’t open the lid of your slow cooker for at least 2 hours. I know it’ll be tempting, but resist. You want to keep the heat in there. So make sure you give everything a very good stir before you start cooking them.
- These crock pot baked beans cook low and slow for 6-8 hours. So, towards the end of cooking (around the 6 hour mark), stir very well and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, paprika, or maple syrup to adjust the flavour to your preference. Just make sure to wait until towards the end of cooking once the beans have had a chance to absorb the sauce and seasoning.
- Slow cookers vary greatly. Keep an eye on your beans towards the end of cooking and if they start drying up before they’re soft enough, add more broth or water to the pot. Then mix well and continue cooking. Don’t go overboard. Just add 1/4-1/2 cup at a time as needed. The beans are done when they are soft and creamy and the sauce is very thick.
- Switch the crock pot to the keep warm setting once done and leave them for up to 2 hours before serving.
- Add a finely chopped jalapeno with its seeds to make the beans spicy. Or add extra cayenne, or a few splashes of your favourite hot sauce.
- Do you like your beans extra sweet? Add some unrefined coconut sugar or brown sugar to the mix.
- Sub the maple syrup with molasses if you prefer its unique rich flavour.
- Use any different type of dried beans you prefer. I like the creamy texture of white navy beans, but if you want a larger, heartier variety, try white or red kidney beans.
Can I prepare ahead?
Yes, absolutely. You can chop your onion and garlic, and combine all the ingredients together, and keep refrigerated for up to 8 hours before cooking in your slow cooker.
How long do they keep?
Since there’s no meat in this dish, your leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, if you can manage not to eat them before that.
Store them in a sealed container in your fridge and reheat in a pan on your stove top.
Can you freeze baked beans?
Yes and beautifully! They can be kept frozen for up to 2 months.
To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator and heat in a skillet over medium low heat on your stove top.
What to pair these with
Baked beans are really an incredible dish to pair with breakfast, brunch and even dinner recipes.
Some of my favourite pairings for include:
- The Easiest Fluffiest Vegan Pancakes Ever
- Allergen Friendly Eggless Frittata Muffins
- Mushroom Risotto Burger
- Easy Vegan Cornbread
- Mexican Corn Salad
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- 450 g dried navy beans soaked overnight or 10-12 hours *see notes for quick soak method
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp prepared mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for flavour, not heat
- Drain and rinse your beans. Then add them, along with all remaining ingredients to your crock pot. Mix very well to get everything combined.
- Cook on low setting for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. **see notes