This easy and quick recipe for vegan Boston baked beans can be prepared on the stove-top and ready in less than 30 minutes.
Traditional Boston baked beans require at least a few hours of baking in an oven so a quick-cook on the stove-top saves valuable energy without sacrificing any of the irresistible sweet, smoky and rich molasses flavours.
Serve as a side-dish, or scooped over tasty toasted bread for a delicious lunch or light dinner. These tasty beans can be easily adapted for gluten-free diets.
Quick origin of Boston Baked Beans
Boston baked beans are essentially haricot or navy beans baked in an oven-safe pot with a lid, and flavoured with molasses with the addition of bacon, or more traditionally salt pork.
The origins of Boston baked beans date way back to the English settlers residing in the Massachusetts Bay Colony [1630-1691]. The settlers cooked beans over an open fire, within a sauce enriched with molasses and chucked in any salt pork or bacon they may have had available.
The colonists were influenced by the diet of the Native Americans and indeed it is claimed that the settlers got the idea to bake beans from the Indigenous Americans.
As the climate of the Americas differed from England, the settlers had to change their traditional recipes and adapt to the new crops that flourished within the new environment.
New England cuisine developed through the blending of Indigenous American diet and methods of cooking with the traditions and food the English brought over.
A New England tradition arose of cooking beans on a Saturday, often the beans baked all night long and was ready to enjoy on the Sunday Sabbath along with a slice or two of brown bread.
Nowadays, Boston, which is the largest city in the New England area is often affectionately given the nickname Beantown!
How to prepare vegan quick Boston baked beans
This recipe uses a few rashers of vegan bacon sliced into small pieces for flavour and texture. The vegan bacon used was This isn't bacon plant based rashers purchased from Asda [UK].
However any sliced cooked vegan bacon, sausages or burgers, smoked tofu or tempeh pieces, can replace the veggie bacon.
Or omit the vegan bacon and add a few teaspoons of liquid smoke at the end of cooking for that tasty smoky flavour.
Alternatively if preferred, instead of meat alternatives or liquid smoke, use a few teaspoons of smoked paprika and add along with the rest of the seasonings during cooking.
Saute the onion, garlic and vegan bacon pieces for 5-8 minutes.
Stir through the tomato paste.
Mix through the cooked haricot beans [navy beans].
Next tip in the brown sugar, molasses, mustard powder, and soy sauce. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Pour in the hot veggie stock and bring to a simmer.
Cook for 12-15 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.
Check the seasoning and enjoy with a few slices of Boston brown bread.
Recipe notes and FAQs
Storage, freezing and reheating
Boston baked beans can be stored within the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Or freeze for 3-4 months. Place the beans in the refrigerator to defrost completely before reheating.
To reheat Boston baked beans, place the beans into a non-stick pan and bring the beans to a simmer. Stir and reheat for a few minutes until piping hot throughout. A few tablespoons of water or broth can be added to loosen up the sauce if necessary.
Alternatively, reheat until piping hot using a microwave. Give the beans a stir half-way through reheating. Reheating in a microwave should only take a few minutes.
Absolutely. With a few changes Boston baked beans are perfect for gluten-free diets.
First ensure that the veggie stock is certified gluten-free, and use a gluten-free soy sauce such as Tamari.
If using vegan bacon or an alternative such as sliced veggie sausages then select a gluten-free variety.
Of course not.
Haricot beans, or if your in the US these beans are known as navy beans, are the traditional bean used for Boston baked beans but any white bean can be used.
Such as cannellini, white kidney beans, butter beans [lima beans], white pea beans, Great Northern beans, etc.
Traditional recipes for Boston baked beans tend to precook dry beans before baking in flavoured stock for a least 2-3 hours.
As this particular recipe is a quick one, I have chosen to use canned beans rather than cook the dried beans on the stove top.
Although dry beans generally are more cost effective, I was also wanting to reduce the cooking time required so as to save cooking energy.
However, if preferred do cook your own beans. After pre-soaking, haricot beans usually need about 1-1 ½ hours of simmering, just follow the cooking instructions on the packet. Any cooked beans that don't get used can be frozen for future quick meals, so it may be worthwhile cooking the whole packet.
If time is an issue and you would like to use dried beans then a pressure cooker is a good way to quickly cook dried beans.
Molasses are produced during the sugar cane or sugar beet refining processes. First the juice is squeezed out of the sugar cane or beet, before boiling the juice and removing the sugar crystals that are formed.
This process can be done many times and the thick syrup that is leftover minus the sugar crystals is called molasses.
There are different types of molasses available depending on how many times the sugar cane was boiled. The main varieties are light, dark, and black-strap.
Although most molasses have some health benefits, black-strap molasses are much more condensed as they have been boiled three times!
Black-strap molasses can be a useful source of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese and magnesium, as well as a source of antioxidants. Also, molasses is a traditional remedy for digestive problems.
A nice wedge of freshly baked bread or a slice of toasted bread and a big spoon is all that is required to enjoy a batch of Boston baked beans!
Boston brown bread is the perfect accompaniment.
A few more ideas:
* home-made chips/wedges/fries/baked potatoes/mashed potatoes
* a nice big fresh salad
* a scoop of Boston baked beans are the perfect side for your BBQ or cook-out
* American biscuits and gravy
* Irish soda bread toasted and Boston baked beans ladled over
* old-fashioned cornbread muffins
* Quick cheesy pasta
* Vegan carrot dogs [an amazing tasty healthy hot-dog alternative!]
* Green lentil and bean mashed potato pie
* Easy veggie hotpot
* a vegan cheese toastie
* a vegan pot pie or pasty
* a few vegan sausages and a big pile of peas!
More delicious vegan bean recipes:
Family favourite sausage pasta [with pinto beans and bell peppers]
Cowboy pie [cheesy bean pie]
Butterbean [lima bean] 'chicke*n supreme' [creamy beans in a classic French sauce]
Vegan Boston Baked Beans
- 1 Large nonstick saucepan/skillet or Dutch oven or similar
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil or olive oil or your choice of oil/ or replace with ½ cup of veggie stock
- 1 medium onion fine diced [can use frozen]
- 4 cloves garlic fine diced/minced [or replace with 1-2 teaspoons dried garlic powder]
- 60 grams vegan bacon rashers [about 2-3 veggie bacon slices diced/can replace with sliced veggie sausages/burgers or perhaps a few juicy mushrooms]
- 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon molasses [or black treacle/maple syrup/date or rice syrup]
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce [use tamari if gluten-free is required]
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste [puree]
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder [such as Colemans]
- 510 grams haricot beans [navy beans] about 2 x 400gram/15oz cans of beans, drained
- 500 mililitres hot vegan stock [broth]
- Heat the oil or ½ cup of veggie stock, and over a medium heat saute the onions, garlic and vegan bacon pieces for 5-8 minutes. Stir frequently. If it begins to stick just add a few tablespoons of water, but not too much. A little browning on the pan just adds to the flavour!1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, 1 medium onion, 60 grams vegan bacon rashers, 4 cloves garlic
- Add the tomato paste and stir for about 60 seconds.1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Turn the heat to low-medium.
- Add the beans and mix.510 grams haricot beans
- Next add the brown sugar, molasses, mustard powder, soy sauce, and season with a little salt and pepper.2 tablespoon light brown sugar, 2 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon mustard powder, 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Pour in the hot vegan stock and stir well.500 mililitres hot vegan stock
- Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the sauce thickens up. The sauce will continue to thicken when the heat is turned off.
- Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. A sprinkle of red pepper or paprika flakes is a tasty additional seasoning.
- If vegan bacon was omitted, 1-2 teaspoons of liquid smoke can be stirred through the beans at the end of cooking to achieve the smoky flavour.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Store leftover Boston baked beans in a covered container within the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Or freeze for 3-4 months.
- Defrost completely before reheating.
- Reheat in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until piping hot throughout.
- Or microwave until nice and hot.
- Add a small amount of water if necessary to loosen up the bean sauce, but not too much water as the sauce will loose thickness as it reheats.
- If you cooked your own beans from dried, then the bean cooking water can be reserved and used to make up the vegan broth/stock.
- For gluten-free baked beans use gluten-free vegan stock, tamari soy sauce and gluten-free vegan bacon if using.
- Vegan bacon can be replaced with a few vegan sausages or burgers, or diced mushrooms. Or omitted altogether. The vegan bacon adds texture and smoky flavours so if not using then perhaps add 1-2 teaspoons of liquid smoke at the end of cooking, or add 1-2 teaspoons of smoked paprika along with the sugar, molasses, mustard powder, etc.
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