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Make our delicious vegan Boston baked beans with jackfruit. My vegan baked beans are adapted from my boyfriend’s great-grandmother’s recipe.
What else do you have going on anyway?
We’re all still spending a lot of time at home, right? Making bread isn’t the only all-day activity I’ve been up to… I’ve also been making beans from scratch. Falafel, refried beans, hummus… you name it. I think I’ve officially converted from canned beans to dried for almost every single recipe under the sun. They’re just so much better tasting than I ever thought they would be.
A few months ago, my boyfriend sent me a text with a photo of a recipe for his great grandmother’s Boston baked beans recipe. We chatted back and forth about how it would be super easy to make vegan by simply removing the pork, but I wanted to add a meat-ish element in its place… jackfruit!
This Boston baked beans recipe is perfect for anyone who is still spending most of their time at home. Similarly to bread, you can set it and forget it once it’s in the oven and return occasionally to stir. These beans are full of flavor and are stupid delicious. You’d be a dummy not to give them a shot!
What ingredients do you need to make vegan Boston baked beans?
To make Boston baked beans, I stuck to Nannie’s original recipe and added a few more ingredients to bring a meaty flavor since there’s obviously no meat in this version. Nannie’s OG recipe calls for dried navy beans, baking soda, mustard powder, brown sugar, molasses, and a whole onion.
Now for my “meaty” additions! I picked jackfruit for this recipe because if you cook it for a really long time, it naturally falls apart and forms these nice shreds similar to pork. In addition to the jackfruit, you’ll need a handful of condiments and spices to bring forward a pork-like flavor. For the condiments, you’ll need some olive oil, ketchup, yellow mustard, miso, soy sauce or tamari, vegan Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. Since the molasses is the star of the dish, if you’re missing one or two of the smaller ingredients like liquid smoke or yellow mustard, don’t sweat it. I’m sure the beans will still be delicious!
Next, you’ll need some meaty seasonings to tie it all together. Portion out some onion powder, garlic powder, and some smoked paprika and you’ll be good to go.
How do you make Boston baked beans with jackfruit?
While these Boston baked beans take a long time to make, they’re extremely low maintenance. For cooking equipment, you’ll need a large bowl, a knife, a cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, and a large oven-safe pot such as a dutch oven.
This recipe follows the same instructions as Nannie’s but I called to get clarification on a few items from my boyfriend’s mom, so those are explained both in this section and in the recipe card. So Just like the recipe says, soak one pound of navy beans overnight. You might want to check on the beans after they’ve been soaking for a few hours. They tend to absorb a lot of water during that initial soaking period and may need a little more.
The next day, drain the beans and rinse them. Then, add to a dutch oven, cover, and boil for about a half-hour. I found that my bean water was pretty cloudy so I chose to actually drain and rinse the beans before putting them in the oven. You can do this if you experience the same thing or you can keep the water if it doesn’t appear to be too cloudy.
One important thing to note is that Nannie’s OG recipe doesn’t specify how much water should be in the pot when it goes into the oven. It only says that you’ll probably have to add more water as the day goes on. This was definitely not the case for me and I found myself cooking the beans until 2 AM the first time I made them.
With that in mind, a good rule of thumb is to fill the water about ½ inch to an inch higher than the beans. If needed, you can always add more water later in the day as the original recipe indicates.
Next, you’ll preheat the oven to 250 degrees while you toss the rest of the ingredients into the dutch oven. You’ll add the rest of Nannie’s ingredients – the baking soda, mustard powder, brown sugar, molasses, and of course a whole onion.
Then, you’ll add my “meaty” additions – a can of jackfruit in brine or water (drained), soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup, ketchup, vegan Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir the beans gently with a spatula until all of the ingredients are combined.
Ok so all of the ingredients are in… what’s next? Gettin’ lazy. That’s what’s next. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Let the beans cook all day at 250. Return every other hour or so to stir the pot and to check your water levels.
After most of the water has evaporated and your beans reach a nice soupy consistency, remove them from the oven. Fish out the onion and discard. Then, using your spatula, gently stab the jackfruit. It should fall apart very easily. Give the beans a nice stir and they’re ready for serving!
Substitution ideas and more
These Boston baked beans with jackfruit are so good. I challenge you to try the recipe as written, but if you have additional dietary restrictions or need to change things up, here are some suggestions.
Make it WFPB (oil-free): The oil in Boston baked beans is simply used to bring some fat into the forefront since there you lose some fat without meat. If you’re WFPB and want to make this recipe oil-free, simply omit the oil.
Make it gluten-free: The only non-gluten-free ingredient in Boston baked beans with jackfruit is soy sauce. Simply substitute the soy sauce for tamari if you have a gluten allergy.
Try it without my meaty additions: Jackfruit got you down? NBD. If you’d like to try a simpler side of Nannie’s Boston baked beans, try making her recipe as-written but without the salt pork. You will probably have to add salt or soy sauce to the beans, but this is how my boyfriend grew up eating them and he vouches for this approach.
Make them faster: If you’re short on time, remove the cover from the pot and increase your oven temp to 350 degrees. You will need to return to the beans more often with this approach to ensure they don’t burn and that you don’t run out of water, but this will definitely speed up the process by a few hours if you’re in a hurry.
Liked Boston baked beans with jackfruit?
If you liked my version of Nannie’s Boston baked beans, you might like some of my other sides. Check out
- Sesame miso green beans
- Maple dijon brussels sprouts
- Citrus asparagus
- Roasted beet salad
- Chipotle sweet corn
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make Boston baked beans with jackfruit! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is Hit the North by The Fall.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Boston Baked Beans with Jackfruit
- large bowl
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- dutch oven
- silicone spatula
Nannie's Boston baked beans
- Add dried beans to a large bowl and fill with water. Soak overnight. You may need to revisit the bowl and add more water 2-3 hours into the soak to ensure the beans stay emerged.
- Drain the beans and rinse. Add to a large dutch oven, cover, and bring the beans to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain beans until ½ inch to an inch of water remains on top.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Add the rest of the ingredients to the dutch oven and use a silicone spatula to gently stir until incorporated. Cover the beans and bake all-day returning every other hour with the spatula to stir. If needed, add more water to the beans to keep them hydrated.
- Let your beans bake until the liquid reaches your desired thickness. Then, remove the pot from the oven. Discard the onion and use the silicone spatula to gently break apart the jackfruit. Stir to combine and serve.