Bowl of smoky baked beans topped with grated vegan cheese, green onions and toast

Smoky baked beans are the best! Their balance of sweet, salty, vinegary goodness is delicious. However, how often do you eat baked beans for breakfast? In the US, the answer is usually “not much.” However, growing up in Australia this was the main way we ate them! Whether it’s on toast, as part of a full breakfast, or with a (dairy-free) cheesy topping, these homemade baked beans are a great way to start your day.

Which Beans Should You Bake?

Ingredients to make smoky baked beans

We wanted to keep this recipe nice and simple – so we chose to use canned Navy beans. But why Navy beans? Well, we’re in Boston, so why not tap into the local culture? New Englanders have been putting these little legumes in baked beans forever. And canned beans? Well – they’re easy, tasty and have about the same nutrition as dry beans. Of course, if you have the time, you can also cook your beans from scratch. That can help you avoid any extra salt, and makes the dish even more budget-friendly!

How to Make “Baked” Beans

Pot full of navy beans, onions and smoked paprika

The tastiness of these beans starts with a base of sautéed garlic and onion and smoked paprika (a bit more about this ingredient below). After that, the beans go in for a minute or two and start soaking up the flavors.

Now we start building the sauce. First comes vegetable broth, which adds a lot of extra flavor compared to plain water. Next, we need some sweetness. For our recipe, we add both brown sugar and some molasses. Both of these add body and rich flavors in addition to sugariness, and molasses gives the beans that familiar reddish-brown color. Next, we add mustard, ketchup, and soy sauce, which add complexity and a balance out the sugar with some vinegar and salt.

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, bring them to a boil and then turn down the heat. You’ll want to simmer them until the sauce gets nice and thick. But you might have noticed something odd – there’s no baking for these beans! Yup, as the recipe spread around people started stewing, slow cooking, and even steaming their beans. They just never lost the name!

So what’s in a Bean?

These Smoky Baked Beans were made with fun and flavor in mind, more so than fitness. However, beans are still an excellent way to start the day! Are you ever asked, “so where do you get your protein?” Well, here’s the answer! If you divide this recipe into 8 servings, each one has 5 grams of protein. That’s already about 10% of the recommended daily intake. You’ll also get 7.3 g of fiber, which is about 20% of your daily dose. Not bad huh? There’s also 15% of your daily iron intake, which is very handy in a baked bean recipe for vegans.

Sauce pan full of baked beans with a scoop being taken out

Is it Smoky in Here?

Baked beans are especially delicious if they’re smoky. However, lots of canned and restaurant versions get this flavor using bacon – which is obviously not cool! But never fear, we’ve found the perfect solution for smoky vegan baked beans – it’s smoked paprika! This adds such a great flavor to the beans you’ll think you’re at a barbecue! We get our smoked paprika from Trader Joe’s. However, if you can’t find it, other good options are liquid smoke, or chipotle chili (either dried or in a hot sauce). But if you can’t find a smoky ingredient, don’t let it stop you – your homemade baked beans will be super-duper tasty all the same!

Full of Beans!

This recipe makes tons of baked beans. OK, maybe not tons – but at least 6-8 servings! This means you can feed a crowd (or yourself for days and days) on the cheap! The best ways to store your beans are:

  • Put them in the fridge: where they’ll last for 3 to 4 days.
  • Freeze them: just let them cool to room temperature. You can then seal them in an airtight container and put them in the freezer.

And reheating them is simple:

  • Put the beans in an oven-proof container, cover with foil, then bake at 350 F for 18-20 minutes.
  • Transfer the beans into a pot and heat them on the stovetop with medium heat. Stir now and then until it’s piping hot throughout.
  • Or if you’re in a hurry, microwave them for 3 minutes, stir, and then heat for another 2 minutes. Keep stirring at heating until it’s warmed all through.
Bowl of smoky baked beans topped with grated vegan cheese, green onions and toast

So, how will you eat your smoky baked beans? Breakfast, lunch, dinner – or maybe a snack? Anything goes! If you try them please let us know what you think with a comment and a rating. Every bit of feedback helps make The Plant Riot even better!

Would you like some more vegan breakfast food to go with your Smoky Baked Beans? Well, check out our Vegan Egg Bites and Tofu Scramble! Or if you’d rather go the BBQ route, why not pair homemade baked beans with our Tempeh Chickpea and Blackbean burgers?

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Smoky Baked Beans

Bowl of smoky baked beans topped with grated vegan cheese, green onions and toast

It’s time for some awesome homemade smoky baked beans! We love these baked beans as part of a vegan breakfast, or as the perfect side dish at a plant-based BBQ!

  • Author: Rachel Steenland | The Plant Riot
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 to 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion (8 ounces / 225 grams), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika (see note)
  • 2 cans navy beans, drained and rinses (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup black strap molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil and onion to a large sauce pan, and sauté until onions soften. Next add the garlic and smoked paprika, stir and sauté for a further  1-2 minutes.
  2. Into the sauce pan, pour in drained beans, stir to combine. Then add the ketchup, black strap molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard and pepper, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture has reduced and a thick sauce is achieved. You want the beans to have a thick smoky sauce, but not too soupy.
  4. Divide your smoky baked beans into six servings. Serve warm.

 

Serve your smoky baked beans with toast, as part of a delicious cooked breakfast alongside scrambled tofu or as a side dish at a plant-based BBQ! Enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t have access to smoked paprika, feel free to use smoky chipotle chili (which will also give the beans a spicy kick!) or liquid smoke. Start with a small amount either and adjust to suit your taste. But if you can’t find a smoky ingredient, don’t let it stop you – your homemade baked beans will be super-duper tasty all the same!
  • We normally use navy beans or pinto beans, but you could use just about any bean of choice. Navy, pinto, cannel, pink or kidney beans will all work well for this recipe!
Two cast iron skillets filled with smoky baKed beans, tofu scramble and cooke vegetables.