Holiday Cuisine Main Courses

Clean Beans

The goal for Memorial Day extending to the Fourth of July this year was a recipe for baked beans tasting as I remember Mom opening a can or two and heating them, but also vegan and zero to low oil.

The baked beans of yesterday not to mention today had bacon or shreds of regular pork, preservatives and natural flavors.” Oddly, it can be cheaper to buy cans of baked beans — even vegetarian and/or no-salt varieties — than plain beans and the pantry add-ins like below.

After some trial and error, I found online “Easy Tasty Baked Beans – Plant Based Recipe” (video) by Plant Based Bistro. It was close, so I pulled and pushed a bit for the following.

It’s simple to throw together, not just for an all-American holiday but during a busy work week. It might be quicker to build this in a saucepan on a cooktop, but the nature of that directed heat could make clean-up take a while, due to the sugar. The oven, lidding the pot, intensifies the moist heat resulting in no sticking.

Rather than adding a liquid, simmer in the juice from the cans of beans, a good use of that aquafaba.

  • 2 15 oz. cans beans such as black, pinto, cannelloni or a mixture, undrained and unrinsed
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (1 small to medium onion)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
  • 1 Tbs prepared mustard, any style
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce or similar
  • 1 Tbs cider vinegar OR any vinegar
  • 1 tea smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tea curry powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tea ground black pepper
  • Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The cooking vessel should be a 2-quart pot with lid ideally is a Dutch oven (a little one), casserole or oven-safe saucepan.
  2. Stir together in the pot all ingredients except the beans and salt. Add in the bean liquid and combine. Now add the beans, stirring carefully to avoid mashing.
  3. Cover and bake 30-45 minutes. Stir gently again. Taste for adding salt or another spice and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.


  • This recipe won’t be particularly tomatoey in color, but neither are most prepared canned baked beans.
  • If using no-salt-added canned beans, add 1/2 tea salt with the spices. After baking, you might want to add a little more.
  • Molasses can substitute for the brown sugar. It may not be that childhood taste but more complex and less sweet. You might like that better. Replace the brown sugar with 2 Tbs molasses. After baking when tasting for adding salt, you might want to stir in 1-2 Tbs more molasses.
  • You can use beans that you cooked. That’s 3 cups of cooked beans, adding its own aquafaba and/or water to cover them and the other ingredients in the pot.
  • By not sautéing the onions first, sometimes they will be crunchy at the end. I like the texture contrasting with the soft beans, but others may be nonplussed. For consistent softness, either finely mince the onion or parboil the chopped onions by simmering them with 2 Tablespoons water for 2-3 minutes then adding the other ingredients and baking as indicated. Or microwave.
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