By Chef Sara
Baked beans are a staple for summertime barbecues and cookouts. And while it's easy to crack open a can of ready-made beans, have you tried making them yourself? These Smoky Maple Baked Beans are inexpensive, incredibly delicious, and oh-so-easy: your oven does all the work!
Navy beans are my bean of choice here. They cook to a tender consistency, but don't lose their shape during the long, slow baking. And because this recipe is completely homemade, you have control over how sweet the finished beans will be. Prefer a little extra sweetness? Add a touch more maple syrup. Like your beans a little more on the savory side? Cut back on the syrup, and add a little extra water.
“But what about the smokiness?” you might be thinking. It's true, traditional recipes for baked beans often include copious amounts of bacon, which lends that time-honored smoky quality. Luckily for us (and our pig friends!), liquid smoke does the trick just as well, with all the smoky flavor and none of the cruelty. It's a great ingredient to keep in your pantry for adding a subtle smokiness to your favorite recipes.
I hope you enjoy our compassionate vegan recipe for Smoky Maple Baked Beans!
Smoky Maple Baked Beans
1 pound dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed
1 cup tomato sauce (one 8-ounce can)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons un-sulphured molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
Place the beans in a large bowl or saucepan, cover with water, and allow to soak overnight at room temperature. After soaking, drain the beans, place them in a large oven-safe lidded saucepan or Dutch oven, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the beans are tender but still holding their shape.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Drain the cooked beans, place back in the saucepan, and stir in the tomato sauce, maple syrup, molasses, mustard, thyme, ginger, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Add the chopped onion, then tuck in the whole garlic cloves and bay leaves. Add enough water to just cover the beans, roughly 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Bring the bean mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then cover and transfer to the preheated oven.
Bake the beans for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. If the beans start to dry out, add a little water. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve. The beans can also be made well in advance and reheated on the stovetop, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.