Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans

I had a craving for baked beans that hit me like a ton of bricks over Memorial Day Weekend.

And these are the best beans that have ever passed my lips.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

I was walking around my San Diego neighborhood, and the smells from neighborhood cookouts were wafting through the air, music was playing, people were laughing with beer bottles clanking, and the early summer evenings that stay light until 8pm reminded me of my childhood summers.

Because I grew up in Minnesota, summer was painfully short and each day was cherished. It meant as much time outdoors as possible and cookouts and grilling were an integral part. The nice thing about grilling was that it kept the mosquitoes the size of golf balls somewhat at bay.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

Baked beans were always served at picnics and barbeques, and since I was never a meat eater, I made meals out of baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon, and white grocery store-bakery sheet cakes. I’d like to get back to that diet, actually.

It’s funny how certain smells set off my cascade of memories, and I had to make baked beans. I had never made them before, but necessity was the mother of recipe development.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

This is an easy and nearly work-free recipe. The only caveat is that it takes forever. Like 16 hours or so, but it’s just waiting around, no active work. They don’t call it a slow cooker for nothing. Set it and forget it.

I kept the recipe vegan, and free from garlic, onions, or added salt. Most baked bean recipes start out with bacon, pork fat, stinky spices, and enough sodium to make me retain water until Christmas. No thanks. You won’t miss one ounce of flavor or pig fat.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

If you have another method for making beans, use it. Bean recipes are like chocolate chip cookie recipes. Everyone has one, everyone thinks their family recipe is the best, and why another recipe isn’t as good or isn’t the traditional way. I happen to love everything about these beans and wouldn’t change a thing.

After soaking the beans (overnight or for an hour, details in the recipe), and simmering them for about 45 minutes, the mostly-cooked beans go into a marinade that uses everything but the kitchen sink. Mix and match based on what you have.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) Recipe at

The key elements include maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, molasses, vinegar, and Guy Fieri Bourbon Brown Sugar Sweet & Sticky BBQ Sauce. Since I was already using brown sugar and bourbon, and because his BBQ sauce had roughly half the sodium as any others I checked,  it was an easy choice, and I loved it. Highly recommended.

Bourbon is the other key ingredient and you’ll need a cup. As I poured 1 cup of Jim Beam into my Crock-Pot, it felt so wrong. But so right.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) Recipe at

The finished beans do not taste like alcohol and all traces of alcohol are removed. There’s no way any traces survive 16 hours of simmering, and no one will get tipsy from beans. The bourbon adds wonderful richness and depth of flavor, and I can’t imagine the beans without it. Although I’m wondering how beans with tequila or scotch would be. I may have to find out.

If you have reasons to skip the bourbon, you may replace it with water; however, your beans won’t taste like mine and I loved everything about them.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

The beans simmer in their black hot tub for 12 to 16 hours. I set my slow-cooker to low and let them cook for 12 hours. I didn’t bother stirring them the entire 12 hours.

When I checked them, the marinade had reduced and thickened, but was no where thick enough. Still pretty liquidy and soupy.

So I set my Crock-Pot to high, took the lid off, and let them simmer on the hottest setting for 4 hours. Between the increased heat and the evaporation from having the lid off, they thickened up considerably and were ready. If you’re having soupy issues, remove the lid and crank up the heat. Because slow-cookers and their cooking temperatures vary greatly, tinker with the settings as you see fit.

The beans are done when they’re tender, the sauce has thickened and the flavor is rich and robust, the smell in your house is driving you nuts, and you just can’t take it any longer.

Before Simmering for 16 Hours

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) Recipe at

16 Hours Later

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) Recipe at

The beans are slightly sweet, with a touch of heat and tanginess. They’re tender, but not mushy.

The already robust flavors of molasses, maple, and bourbon become concentrated and are intense yet smooth. Although the sauce thickens, it’s still plentiful. I’m a sauce lover and made sure they stayed juicy and saucy.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

They’ll make a bean lover out of even those who say they “don’t like beans”. They’ve even begun to convert my husband, a lifelong bean hater.

In the meantime, I’ve never been so excited about beans in my life. It’s the little things.

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, GF) - The best baked beans and the easiest! Set it & forget it!

Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans (vegan, gluten-free)

These are the best baked beans I’ve ever had and the recipe is nearly work-free. If you’ve never made beans or made beans in a slow cooker, it’s so easy. You do have to have some patience, but the best things come to those who wait. The flavors of bourbon, maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, BBQ sauce and more intensify and concentrate over time, and the resulting beans have incredible depth of flavor. They’re sweet with a bit of heat, robust yet smooth, and extremely satisfying.

5 / 5 ()
Did you make this recipe?


1 pound dry Great Northern beans (or navy beans)
1 cup bourbon
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup water
heaping 1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard (I used yellow, if using stoneground or dijon, consider using slightly less)
1/4 cup molasses (use mild/light/medium, not dark/robust/blackstrap)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (omit if keeping vegan, or substitute with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce)


  1. Rinse and sort dry beans in a colander over the sink.
  2. Add beans to a large pot and cover with 8 cups water and let soak overnight (about 8 hours). OR to save time….
  3. …Use the 1 hour rapid soak method. Bring beans and 8 cups water to a boil. Allow beans to boil rapidly for 3 minutes, uncovered. Shut the heat off, cover the pot, and let stand for 1 hour.
  4. In either the overnight soak method or the 1 hour rapid soak method, drain soaking water and rinse beans well under running water in a colander over the sink.
  5. Return beans to pot, cover with 6 cups water, and allow to simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes, or until quite tender; cooked about 80% of the way. They’ll be transferred to a slow cooker where they’ll cook for 12+ hours so you don’t want them or need them to be totally done, but they shouldn’t be overly hard either (taste a few beans, you’ll know when you bite into them)
  6. While beans are simmering, combine all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker, and whisk to combine until smooth.
  7. After beans are done simmering, drain them, add them to the slow cooker, and stir.
  8. Cover and cook on low heat for about 12 hours (start checking at about 8 hours), or until beans are tender, the sauce has thickened and reduced dramatically, the flavor is concentrated and robust, and the smell in your house is intoxicating. If after 12 hours your sauce is still liquidy or on the soupy side, remove the lid, increase the heat to the highest setting, and cook uncovered until thickened to desired level (this took 4 hours for me; 12 hours covered on low and 4 hours uncovered on high, for 16 hours total). Note – Because slow-cookers and temperatures vary greatly, you can tinker with the temperature settings as you see fit. You could possibly cook on medium for 10 to 12 hours, or cook on high for 8 to 10 hours, or do a combination of settings until your sauce has thickened and beans are tender.
  9. Serve immediately. Beans will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and taste better on days 2 and 3 as the flavor marry even more. I would anticipate finished beans could be frozen for up to 6 months, however I have not tested it. Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs if keeping vegan and gluten-free, reading labels and selecting specific brands that meet your needs.

Recipe from Averie Cooks. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.

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Have you ever made baked beans?

Fan of beans, in general?

These beans were right up my alley because I especially love the flavors of brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, the tanginess of vinegar, and the sweet-with-heat. The depth of bourbon flavor just pushes them over the edge.

185 comments on “Bourbon Maple Slow Cooker Baked Beans”

  1. I am so excited to see this! I have been searching for a good and healthy vegetarian baked bean recipe for ages. I do have one question, do you think this would work with small red beans? My son is allergic to Navy Beans (can you believe it??? also soy, peanuts, etc) so I need a good alternative. Thanks so much!

    • Ugh that is too bad about your son having multiple food allergies. My heart goes out to you both for trying to find things that are suitable for him.

      And yes, go for it with red beans. The recipe is made for a long simmering time so the sauce reduces. If you think the red beans would cook faster than navy beans, then you may want to initially undercook them a bit in the initial step after the soaking so that they don’t turn mushy after a 12-16 hour simmer, but I don’t know how their cooking time compares to a navy bean’s cooking time. Just something to keep in mind. LMK how they turn out!

  2. I never have enough baked bean recipes being from the Boston area they are a staple! These look perfect and I’m sure they would get a double thumbs up at my next BBQ!

  3. Looks great, but I’ll be feeding 50-75 next weekend and wonder about scaling…! I’ll make two batches, one recipe with bacon and yours…

    Think this one would just doubling everything?

    • I personally would make two batches, separately, from start to finish. Yes, you’ll have to plan ahead by an extra day but the flavors actually get better in time, so no issue there. I just worry that 2 batches all at once in 1 slow cooker would be a ridiculous amount of liquid and it wouldn’t cook down and reduce properly. I’d play it safe and do it the way I wrote it, twice. Please LMK how it goes!

      • Well, unfortunately I need to cook a double of yours and then a double of another recipe with bacon, and I don’t have 4 cooking days! I need to do the veggie beans tomorrow and the bacon beans Friday for party Saturday…. So, I’m just gonna have to bite the bulleit (see what I did there?) and try 2 lbs of beans all at once. The crockpot is definitely big enough… but you’re probably right to worry about the volume of liquid.

        So I may cut back on the liquid a bit, though, figuring this could be added in as I go if needed. Maybe cut back the bourbon and water by 30% or so? Who knows.

        I’ll wing it. Hopefully not a disaster :)

      • Ok I would reduce the water then if I were you. The regular batch is 1 c water and 1 c bourbon. I would do 1 c water and 2 c bourbon. I mean, you could reduce the bourbon rather than the water, but…I wouldn’t :) And if for some reason they’re getting dry, you can always add more water. I think you will be fine honestly though! Please LMK how things turn out!!

  4. Actually, as another alternative, both Annie’s Naturals and The Wizard’s brands make excellent vegan Worcestershire sauces. As a convert to vegetarianism, one of the my earliest missions was to find one for my veggie burgers. I’ve seen them in natural/organic sections of chain groceries or near the bbq sauces in Whole Foods, etc. As a former Lea & Perrins junkie, believe me when I say these will not disappoint.

    • Oh wow, very good to know about those 2 brands. I’m sure if I would have googled it, something would have popped up, but I didn’t even think to – and it’s great to have a first hand account and for someone to actually vouch for things. Thank you!

  5. Wow does these beans look fabulous Averie! I just love slow cooker recipes!

  6. Another field report–these beans taste great (and are husband approved too)! I did a half batch because there are only 2 of us, and my crockpot is a taller, cylinder shape so I was worried about it being too full and not reducing enough. I thought about cooking them overnight, but knew I’d have a hard time staying asleep with yummy smells wafting into the bedroom! The sauce was thick, rich, and well balanced (neither too tomatoe-y or sugar-y per my husband)!

    • That’s awesome, Paula, that the hubs approves (I know you said he’s a bourbon fan!) and yes, I thought I was going to have trouble sleeping with the crockpot going (that’s why I can never dehydrate things – that thing is so loud and then the food smells!) but with the crockpot, there was SO much liquid in mine, I knew I’d be safe for 4 hours. That’s about as much sleep as I can fit in :) Anyway though, thanks for the field report and that the half batch worked perfectly and that the sauce was balanced. Thanks for trying these!

  7. I’m not much of a beans person but Jason is so I definitely need to make this for him. Plus, my slow cooker has not been used all year!

  8. LOVING these. Seriously, OMG. BAked beans are probably my favorite summer side dish ever. And they are SO much better homemade! The ketchup, the maple, the molasses, the brown sugar… you know the way to a girls heart! And yes, that girl is me… and yes, the way to my heart is beans. Pinning these too as I drool all over the screen. I want cosmic brownies for breakfast with a side of these, please and thank you. Great photography too – I could never shoot… beans. ;)

    • Knowing I had BEANS to shoot the day I made these, well, let’s just say I was a little nervous. My hat it off to ethnic food blogger who shoot beans, lentils, soft, dark, brown and often times mushy food…lol. Not easy! These actually weren’t horrible. I’ve had cakes that were worse.

      And the sauce/marinade, Sally, it’s heavenly!! Best beans of my life, not kidding! Thanks for pinning!

  9. Oh my, this looks fabulous :)

  10. Ummm recipe pinned! I love beans and any slow cooker recipes. Definitely trying this next week.

    • Thanks for pinning and I just went to your website (love your URL) :) And those pics of you with the bike. And the blue water/backdrop…stunning! And you are one strong, tough cookie…whoa! Love it!

  11. I made these baked beans today for family. They were delisious! I doubled the recipe and all the ingredients with no problems. The only thing I did different was I omited the bourbon altogether. Wich meant i didnt need to take the lid of my crockpot to thicken the sauce. Still delicious!!

    • That is awesome that you made them and loved them. And you skipped the best part :) But I understand, it’s not for everyone. But good to know that doubling the recipe worked just fine and that because you omitted the bourbon, you didn’t need to bother with un-lidding your slow cooker. Thanks so much for the feedback and trying this recipe! I love field reports, but especially on recipes like this it’s extra helpful! :)

  12. Suggestions for a different brand of barbecue sauce? I’ve access to only the most basic brands at this way-out-in-sticks small town grocery store, don’t have time to order any shipped in, and need to start cooking tomorrow. Look for one with half the usual salt?? Thanks.

    • Just use a basic brand or whatever is available to you or your favorite. I simply used that one because I could as it was right there at my usual groc store; but I wouldn’t have gone out of my way for it, i.e. a special order. Just use what you have. And please LMK how your beans turn out!

  13. These are cooking in my kitchen right now! The smell is unbelievable…and the whole family is so excited to try them out!

  14. I made these with Dewar’s scotch. They were fabulous!

  15. FANTASTIC!!!!!!!! I made 1/2 the recipe & used 2 cans of kidney beans instead of the dried navy beans, and Irish whiskey instead of bourbon – both cuz that’s what I had. These are really really good & I will be making them often. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Wow, these sound so good and so easy, can’t wait to try them

  17. I’m about to add the beans to the sauce. Oh my gosh, I cannot wait to eat these! Baked beans are definitely one of my favorite dishes. My husband likes to eat them over rice, so I will be making rice tomorrow for him to eat them over. Thank you so much for the recipe. As I type hubby just walked in with the bourbon ;)

  18. I LOVE your blue bowl in this post, every time I see this post I covet that dish wear. It’s beautiful! Where’d you get it?

    • I try to get as many of my blog dishes from secondhand and thrift stores b/c I can really only use them once or twice before they look boring and same-old thing. So…I got it at a San Diego thrift store and knowing their prices, I probably paid $1 dollar. 99% of what they have is junk but the 1% is worth going for :)

  19. Ok, this may seem like a silly question, but seeing as how these are vegetarian are you serving these as a main course? It seems like the picture would suggest this but maybe I just need more coffee. ;)

    • I personally could make a meal out of these but they’re the type of thing you would probably serve as a side if you’re serving it for a party. After they’ve been cooking for 18+ hours and your house is just so delicious smelling, you’ll probably want to make a meal out of them though :)

  20. This is the first time I ever made baked beans at all. I tried the slow cooker recipe for maple baked beans and it was wonderful! I left out the Bourbon & used water. I used a little mix of flour & cold water to thicken it up an hour before eating and it didn’t ruin the taste at all. Thumbs up for this one!

    • Congrats on your first baked beans experience! That’s nice to know you can make them now, right! And they’re even better with the bourbon but some people have reason to leave it out, but it adds so much depth of flavor. Sounds like yours turned out just fine though!

  21. Loved these beans and will make them again. I added one onion and some veggie bacon. Next time, I’ll leave out the bourbon or only use half the amount. May also put “bacon” in a cheese cloth so I get flavor but eliminate the mushy chunks which didn’t please my sense of texture.


  22. I love the idea of this recipe. However, I wanted to educate you on the suggested gluten-free quality of this recipe. Bourbons, especially Jim Beam, is NOT gluten free. Most are about 50% corn, 50% rye, and sometimes wheat. There are gluten free bourbons (all corn bourbons) available, but they are more difficult to find. For those of us with true Celiac disease, we cannot handle liquor with any gluten containing ingredients. Please suggest this in your recipe, as there are many who are just beginning their path to healthy gluten free living and do not know the dangers within alcohols yet.

    • I have Celiac disease and I handle most bourbons just fine. You see, liquors are distilled and because of that process the amount of gluten in them are usually negligible. If hard liquors made with gluten containing ingredients set off a reaction in you it might be a placebo effect. Each person with a desire to try recipes containing distilled grain alcohols will have to see for themselves.

  23. This recipe is fabulous!!! Used quick soak method and slow cooked overnight. I didn’t have bourbon (my hubby’s favorite, so often lacking in supply) so I used Crown Royal. Also, subbed honey for brown sugar and added garlic. Cooked for an additional hour with lid off before our party and the amount of liquid was perfect. Served with Jackfruit BBQ sandwiches and our Hungarian coleslaw. Everything was loved by all! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for the awesome comment and for LMK what you did! Crown sounds fabulous and Crown, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, it all works, right :) I love the sounds of the Jackfruit BBQ sandwiches and our Hungarian coleslaw – wow, wish I was at a party at your house! I bet your house smelled AMAZING! Thanks for the great info and feedback!

      • The first comment from each of the guests coming over last was some version of, “Wow it smells great in here!” Gotta love that! I’m going to make up a big batch of the sauce without the beans to use for BBQ sauce on my black bean “meat”balls and tempeh “chicken” wings. Thanks again and keep posting deliciousness please!

  24. I was so excited to find this recipe on the 4th of July, as our family needed a meat-free baked bean recipe today! We pre-soaked our beans last night, and cooked for 45 minutes like you’d suggested….I just wondered how you’d modify the recipe if it wasn’t going into a crock pot, but just a regular All-Clad large soup pan on the stovetop? I assumed I just needed to cook it on low heat, stir often, and maybe it would take fewer hours. Any suggestions on other ways to make sure stove-top cooking is successful?

    • I assumed I just needed to cook it on low heat, stir often, and maybe it would take fewer hours. = I think that’s a good starting point. I haven’t done it that way so not sure what exact tips to give. Happy Fourth!

  25. Made this for our july 4th barbecue. Everyone loved it! It was bursting with smoky sweet tangy goodness and got many compliments. Thanks!

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