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Healthier Baked Beans Recipe (Vegetarian)


Believe it or not, there’s a healthier baked beans recipe that you can easily make from scratch!

Traditional baked beans are made with bacon and canned baked beans that are high in sodium, sugar and highly processed additives.

These healthier vegetarian baked beans are made from scratch, but just as easy to make and delicious! Once you taste a bite of these healthier baked beans, you won’t go back to the can. 

Healthier Baked Beans Vegetarian Recipe 5

There are a few signature dishes that were almost always guaranteed to be found on the dining table spread at my Nana’s house. Baked beans is one of them. Any time my Nana would make baked beans, the smell that welcomed us when we walked through the door was like a warm hug. It was comforting, sweet, and so fragrant that I could almost taste the baked beans before I even sat down at the table. 

Whether it’s a fish fry at my Nana’s house, or lunch at a barbeque place, give me a bowl of baked beans and I’m a happy camper. 

I figured a good baked bean recipe was one that was worth having on hand, given how much I crave them and how easy they are for entertaining. 


The thing is, I’ve never actually made those signature baked beans with my Nana and I don’t have access to her recipe. This means that I’m going in blind to create my own, healthier version. 

Simple Swaps for Healthier Baked Beans

As I was researching traditional baked beans recipes, I noticed a few common themes. 

One, most of the recipes called for bacon to give the beans a smokey, rich flavor. Two, I realized that most baked beans aren’t actually made from scratch. They are made with the help of canned baked beans, then have even more sugar and flavorings added to them. 

I might not have the exact recipe for my Nana’s baked beans, but I do know that she put green bell pepper in them. Instead of starting with a base of bacon, I wanted to make my version vegetarian, so I added smoked paprika – one of my favorite spices for a smokey, barbeque flavor.

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Most recipes call for brown sugar, so I used a combination of maple syrup and coconut sugar for the familiar maple taste and hint of nuttiness. Add in some onion, tomato sauce, garlic powder and a few other ingredients and you’ve got yourself a healthier side dish! 

The freshness of the onion and bell pepper, sweetness from the maple syrup and tomato sauce, tang from the apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard, all unified by the smoked paprika makes every bite taste out of this world. 

The smell that was taking over my house as these healthier vegetarian baked beans were in the oven smelled just like my Nana’s did, and that’s when I knew I had a winner. 

I chose great northern beans for this recipe because they are soft and buttery. You could substitute for any kind of beans you have on hand. The flavor is in the sauce! 


By omitting the bacon and canned baked beans, and relying on a few healthy swaps, the nutritional difference is shocking. 

  • Traditional Baked Beans = 640 calories, 24g Total Fat (8g Saturated Fat), 67g Net Carbohydrates, 28g Sugars, 32g Protein
  • Healthier Vegetarian Baked Beans = 218 Calories , 5g Total Fat (1g Saturated Fat), 29g Net Carbohydrates, 14g Sugars, 8g Protein 

Plus, the sodium is reduced by over half. 

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Healthier Baked Beans Recipe (Vegetarian)

  • Author: FitLiving Eats by Carly Paige
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


The smell of baked beans overtaking the house brings me back to my Nana’s kitchen. Instead of using bacon and canned baked beans, this lightened up version is made from scratch using a few healthy swaps. These Healthier Vegetarian Baked Beans are about to become your new family recipe. One that you can actually feel good about enjoying!


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 15ounce cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onion and green pepper once hot. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coconut sugar, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
  3.  Transfer the beans to a square baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the coconut sugar on top. Bake in the oven covered for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 30 minutes, until bubbly and thickened.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 11g
  • Sodium: 296mg
  • Fat: 4g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: baked beans, healthy baked beans, vegetarian baked beans, bean side dish, bbq side dish, healthy barbeque, vegan baked beans, healthy casserole, side dish, barbeque side dish, healthy side dish, healthy southern food

Looking for more comfort foods with a healthier twist? Find some favorites on my Plant-Based Comfort Foods Pinterest Board.

-Carly Paige

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6 Responses

  1. Great reCipe!! I made these last night for the fourth of jUly and theY were so good. I didnt have any tomato sauce on hand so I blended fresh tomatoes and added one Cup instead of 3/4. I also added cane sugar insteaD of coconut sugAr (thats what i had on hand) and halfed the amount. They were great!! They were much lighter than traDitional baked beans which is exActly What i was going for. The flavor was amazing. Will definitely make again. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Izzy, I’m so glad to hear that you loved the recipe and shared it with loved ones for the holiday! Baked beans are one of my favorite summer side dishes. Great job with the modifications – I’m glad you were able to use what you had on hand. Thanks for the coming back and commenting!

  2. Hi, I am planning on going camping and would love to try this recipe. Would you happen to know what the serving size is? I know it says for 6 just wondering if that is like a 1/2 cup per person? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sandy, great question! This is the perfect camping recipe (you can even make it ahead of time and heat at the campsite grounds). A typically serving size of starches, including beans, is 1/2 cup. Not everyone follows this, but that will give you a good idea!

    1. Hi Sandy, great question! I personally have not tried freezing them, but I don’t see why not! Anytime you freeze food, you always run the risk of a slight texture change but I could imagine that these would hold up okay. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

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Hi! I’m Carly Paige, a culinary nutrition expert and chef who believes that healthy doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring or restrictive. I’m here to show you how through my Simply Swapped Method so that you can feel more energized and confident from within. You’ll find tips for focusing on nutrition in the kitchen, along with plant-powered, gluten-free recipes that proves healthy can be delicious.

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