Healthy-ish Instant Pot Baked Beans! These vegetarian baked beans from scratch are sweet, tangy, saucy, and SO easy to make. The Instant Pot does all the heavy lifting, plus you don’t need to turn on the oven!
Baked beans—a must-have side dish at any BBQ or potluck. I grew up on baked beans and to this day, I can’t seem to get enough of them (all that starchy goodness is hard to say no to). Even though we weren’t vegetarian growing up, my mom always got the vegetarian canned baked beans. We devoured them. Because of that, I’ve never known baked beans to have meat in them which is why I opted to keep this recipe meat-free as well.
However, it was an internal debate, because smoky bits of bacon are never a bad idea. If you’re a bacon family, check out my notes in the recipe for how to add bacon to these baked beans.
Healthy Baked Beans
Aside from the vegetarian aspect, I wanted to create a baked bean recipe that was overall healthier than most other recipes or canned options. I’m all about decreasing the amount of sugar AND using natural sweeteners whenever I can. So, instead of brown sugar I opted to use a combination of honey and maple syrup. The combination of the two to create an ideal balance of flavor and syrupy-ness. But you can certainly use one or the other if you prefer.
I do want to note, these are not low in sugar, they are just lower than most. If you're watching your sugar in take, skip the optional ¼ cup maple syrup and consider decreasing the honey a bit.
These beans are:
- Vegetarian (use low-sodium soy sauce instead of Worcestershire if you're strictly vegetarian)
- Naturally sweetened
HOW TO MAKE BAKED BEANS IN THE INSTANT POT (no soaking required!)
- Cook the dried beans in an Instant Pot until nearly cooked through, 25 minutes on high pressure. Release the pressure naturally for 20 minutes.
- Drain the beans (reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid). Set Instant Pot to sauté function, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the paprika and black pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the saucy stuff, aka the honey, molasses, and tomato paste; cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in cooked beans, reserved cooking liquid, and 1 cup water. Cook baked beans in the Instant Pot on high pressure for 10 minutes. Quick release the pressure.
- Stir in vinegar, maple syrup (if using), Dijon and Worcestershire (or soy sauce); bring to a simmer and cook until thickened and syrupy, 20–25 minutes. Have patience, I promise these beans will thicken up! Stir them about every 5 minutes to make sure nothing it sticking to the bottom. Also keep in mind, these will also thicken as they cool. They are piping hot in the IP, but the moment they come off the heat they'll start to thicken even more.
This recipe was developed using the Duo Plus60 6-quart Instant Pot. If you’re using a different Instant Pot or pressure cooker, check out this article for info on adapting recipes for your instant pot.
What type of beans do I use for baked beans?
I like using a combination of beans for homemade baked beans. This recipe uses black beans and pinto beans because they have similar cooking times in an Instant Pot. If you don’t want to buy two types of beans, go ahead and use all of one type. If you go the one-bean route, use pinto beans.
Maybe two types of beans isn't enough variety, in that case use a mixture of beans that have similar cooking times such as black beans, black-eyed peas, great northern, and/or pinto. Use the general cooking times below for reference.
- Black beans: 20–25 minutes
- Black-eyed peas : 20–25 minutes
- Great Northern beans: 25–30 minutes
- Navy beans: 25–30 minutes
- Pinto beans: 25–30 minutes
- Cannellini beans: 35–40 minutes
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): 35–40 minutes
- Red kidney beans: 25–30 minutes (boil for 10 minutes before pressure cooking)
But wait! There are more options! Let’s say you want to make this recipe as written but you want to add in cannellini beans. Because they require a longer cooking time than black beans and pinto beans, I would just toss in a can of cannellini beans (drained) at the same time you add the cooked beans back into the pot with the veggies and sauce. This way you get the added texture of a third type of bean without messing around with the cook time (and risk over- or under-cooking some beans).
DO I NEED TO SOAK DRY BEANS?
The short answer is no, you don’t need to soak dry beans prior to cooking them in an Instant Pot. Cooking dry beans in an Instant Pot results in creamy home cooked beans without all of the work or pre-planning. The process is quick and hands-off and can be done on a weeknight without any heads up. For these baked beans I cook the dried beans in the Instant Pot in two phases, the first in water and the second in all of the saucy goodness.
You don’t have to soak the beans—but you may want to
By skipping the soaking process, some of the beans will split or “blow out” of their skins. This isn’t a big deal with baked beans. But if you’re going for perfect appearance, soak them overnight covered in cold water at room temperature. Doing this will cut down on total cooking time and will create more uniform beans.
If you do end up soaking the beans overnight, decrease the first cooking stint in the Instant Pot by about half the time.
CAN I use CANNED BEANS INSTEAD OF DRY BEANS?
Of course! Instead of cooking the dry beans (the first step of the recipe), simply skip that step and add canned beans (and 1 cup of their juices) to the Instant Pot after adding the molasses, honey, and tomato paste. Follow the rest of the recipe instructions as written.
Instead of 1 pound (about 2 ½ cups) of dried beans, use 58-ounces of canned beans. Reserve one cup of the bean liquid, then drain the beans. Add the reserved liquid and beans to the Instant Pot.
Make these baked beans vegan and/or gluten-free
As long as you use soy sauce instead of Worcestershire, these baked beans are vegetarian. If you need them to be vegan you’ll also need to swap the honey our for maple syrup.
Written as is and made with Worcestershire sauce, these beans are gluten-free.
What to serve these baked beans with:
- Pan-Seared Lamb Chops
- Grilled Pork Chops
- Grilled Chicken Skewers
- Vegan BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- Juicy Turkey Burgers
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Smoky and saucy, these homemade vegetarian baked beans are the ultimate side dish for anything grilled. Made in the Instant Pot, this recipe makes cooking dried beans easy!
- 8 ounces dried black beans (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 8 ounces dried pinto beans (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ⅓ cup honey or pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup mild molasses
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup (optional, if you want them sweeter and saucier)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon or brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire (or soy sauce if vegetarian)*
- Kosher salt
Sort and pick through the beans, discarding any pebbles or dirt. Rinse the beans then add to the Instant Pot with 6 cups of water. Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off Instant Pot and naturally release pressure for 20 minutes; quick release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain beans. Wipe out Instant Pot.
Set Instant Pot to sauté function, add oil and heat just until shimmering. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add paprika and black pepper and cook 30 seconds. Stir in honey, molasses, and tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Add cooked beans, 1 cup reserved cooking liquid, and 1 cup water.
Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 10 minutes. Quick-release pressure then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
Set Instant Pot to sauté function and stir in vinegar, maple syrup (if using), Dijon, Worcestershire (or soy sauce) and 1 teaspoon salt; simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 20–25 minutes. Have patience, it will thicken! Keep in mind these will also thicken as they cool.
Turn Instant Pot off and let beans cool slightly; season with additional salt and vinegar to taste (you’ll likely need quite a bit more salt).
MAKE THESE BEANS VEGAN: use soy sauce in place of the Worcestershire (make sure it’s gluten-free if needed) and use maple syrup in place of the honey.
MAKE THESE BEANS VEGAN AND GLUTEN-FREE: use gluten-free soy sauce, liquid aminos or coconut aminos in place of the Worcestershire.
ADD BACON: use two to four strips of bacon, dice it up, and cook it in a tablespoon of oil prior to adding the veggies to cook (decrease the oil and supplement the remaining tablespoon with the bacon grease left in the pot).
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Calories: 223
- Sugar: 14g
- Sodium: 294mg
- Fat: 3g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 41g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 9g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: instant pot baked beans, baked beans, vegetarian baked beans, homemade baked beans