Side Dishes

May 27, 2021

Healthy Homemade Baked Beans (Sugar Free!)

Ready in one hour with just one pot, these Healthy Homemade Baked Beans are the BEST baked beans recipe because of the sweet and spicy homemade sauce with hidden pieces of savory bacon. They're also naturally gluten-free and refined sugar-free.

One of my favorite parts of being a food blogger is learning about tradition. Not only are there widely accepted traditional foods for national holidays around the world, but there are special traditional foods within individual families as well.

Sometimes those family traditions are "grandma's secret recipe" for a classic dish, and sometimes those family traditions are unique and unconventional; either way, food brings people together and builds life-long memories that are passed down through the generations.

My family enjoyed Jamaican Jerk Burgers for most summer holidays, along with my great-grandma's family recipe for guacamole and strawberry Jell-O.

My husband's family always made a batch of grandpa's homemade grape ice cream with fudgy brownies.

Two totally different traditions, but both were special family traditions.

When I was researching different ideas for Memorial Day recipes and summer barbecue recipes, I came across baked beans quite often and decided I wanted my own recipe.

Not only are these the best homemade baked beans you'll ever have (no canned stuff here!), they're also the best healthy baked beans recipe you'll ever make!

Baked beans on toast

All about baked beans

Where did baked beans come from?

Originally, baked beans come from the United Kingdom, dating back to the 16th century, and were made with white beans (like great northern beans or cannellini beans) stewed in a rich tomato sauce and sweetened with brown sugar or molasses.

Baked beans were also found in Native American cuisine using a variety of native beans (most commonly navy beans) and legumes with pure maple syrup as the primary sweetener.

Today, in the United States, baked beans are the perfect side dish for summer barbecues that can be made with either tomato sauce or barbecue sauce.

They are traditionally baked in the oven or in a slow cooker, but can also be made in a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, on the stovetop, or in a dutch oven.

What makes these "healthy baked beans?"

When writing my homemade baked bean recipe, I decided to combine traditional recipe ingredients with healthier simple ingredients to make sure this version was authentic, but also easy and healthy. My healthy baked beans include:

  • Pinto beans: a cousin of navy beans, pinto beans are similar in texture and nutrition. They are high in fiber, plant-based protein, and folate. I personally like the flavor and texture of pinto beans more than navy beans, but feel free to use whatever beans you like best. (I've seen baked bean recipes that use great northern beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, and even black beans!) You can use dry beans, but to keep things simple, we're using a can of beans.
  • Aromatics: instead of yellow or red onions, I chose to use shallots for their subtle sweetness. This recipe also calls for fresh minced garlic. To learn my secret trick for mincing garlic, click here!
  • Turkey bacon: a healthy alternative to traditional bacon, turkey bacon has less saturated fat and sodium per serving but still packs in the flavor. Don't worry, you'll still get that classic smoky flavor when you saute the shallot and garlic with the bacon in olive oil! This brand has my favorite turkey bacon (not sponsored) but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.
  • Stubb's BBQ sauce: this brand is my absolute favorite (not sponsored) because they don't use high fructose corn syrup in their products and all their sauces have much less sugar. If you want these healthy baked beans to be truly sugar free, check out this brand!
  • Sugar free maple syrup: a tribute to the Native Americans with a healthier approach. By using sugar free maple syrup, you get all the flavor without the sugar. If you want more of a caramel flavor instead of maple, use 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar to keep this recipe refined sugar free.

For the full list of ingredients and measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post. But, here are some other important ingredients you'll need:

  • Tomato sauce: also known as tomato puree. It's thinner than crushed tomatoes, so be sure to read the label.
  • Apple cider vinegar: adds a bit of tang to balance the sweet BBQ sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: more of a savory flavor than soy sauce. It was originally developed in England to marinate steak, so I thought it would go perfectly with the smoky flavor of baked beans.
  • Stevia: the sugar free version of granulated sugar. Adding a touch of Stevia helps cut through the acidity of the tomatoes and apple cider vinegar.

A pot of baked beans

How to make the best baked beans recipe

Instead of buying the canned baked beans with refined sugar, make homemade baked beans with a few pantry staples and 10 minutes of work. Below are two ways to make this recipe.

On the stove

  1. Saute the aromatics: heat a large skillet or soup pot to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Saute the bacon, shallots, and garlic for 5 minutes until fragrant, then turn off the heat and allow the bacon to continue cooking while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients: this is the step that proves these truly are easy baked beans. Pour in the drained beans, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Stevia, and spices. Give the pot a good stir (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot!), then cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes.
  3. Reduce the sauce: for the last 10 minutes of cooking, cook uncovered on low heat to reduce the sauce. This helps evaporate any excess liquid on top of the stewed beans and thicken the sauce.

In the crock pot

  1. Saute the aromatics: heat a skillet to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Saute the bacon, shallots, and garlic for 5 minutes until fragrant, then turn off the heat and allow the bacon to continue cooking as the pan cools.
  2. Add to the slow cooker: transfer the sauteed aromatics to your crock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Cook on LOW heat for 7-8 hours or HIGH heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. Reduce the sauce: allow the baked beans to cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes before serving to allow any excess liquid to evaporate.

A quick side note

If you'd like to use dried beans instead of canned pinto beans, here's a quick soak method to prepare your beans before making the recipe:

  1. Add boiling hot water to a large baking dish, then stir in your dry beans.
  2. Let the beans soak for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, then proceed with the recipe.

Baked beans

Frequently asked questions

Can I make baked beans in the Instant Pot?

Yes, but after testing this recipe multiple times, I found that using the Instant Pot didn't save any time or dishes. It wasn't any more convenient than a stovetop! If you're looking for an easy baked beans recipe specifically for the Instant Pot, check out Lauren's recipe at Zestful Kitchen!

Can I make these homemade baked beans ahead of time?

Of course! However, I recommend making these no more than 24 hours in advance so they taste as fresh as possible. You'll also want to reheat them all at once (if serving to a large crowd) for at least an hour before serving.

How do I store baked beans?

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. If you're serving these baked beans at an event, avoid leaving them at room temperature for more than two hours.

Can I make a vegetarian version of this recipe?

Yes! Just omit the turkey bacon from the recipe.

Can I make these baked beans vegan?

Yes! Omit the turkey bacon and ensure your BBQ sauce is certified vegan. You could even substitute chopped vegan sausages in place of the turkey bacon.

A half eaten plate of baked beans with toast and eggs

What to serve with baked beans

I love mixing in this peach mango salsa for a "Hawaiian baked beans" vibe. Some of my favorite main dishes that go well with baked beans are this Bacon Wrapped Hawaiian Chicken with coconut rice, my homemade Turkey Sloppy Joes, or the BEST Oven Baked Mac and Cheese you'll ever eat.

F‍or 50 more recipe ideas to serve with baked beans, check out this blog post!

More healthy side dishes

Simple and Delicious Healthy Potato Salad (No Mayo!)

Easy White Cheddar Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Healthy Mini Pigs in a Blanket Blossom

Healthy Instant Pot Sweet and Spicy Meatballs

Fresh and Healthy Mexican 7-Layer Dip

The Best Healthy Southwestern Cobb Salad

Why you'll love this recipe

  1. It's healthy: with complex carbs, 10 grams of protein, and no added sugar, these beans won't spike your blood sugar levels as much as traditional baked beans would.
  2. It's homemade: you can feel good knowing your food is made with real, wholesome, and healthy ingredients
  3. It's easy to make: all you need is one pot (no separate pan for sauteing!), pantry staples, and some turkey bacon!
  4. It's perfect for summer: nothing says "backyard BBQ" like baked beans! It's one of my favorite healthy recipes to bring.
  5. It's versatile: enjoy with a savory breakfast, a hearty main dish, or on its own as a comforting side dish.

A plate of baked beans with sunny side up eggs and toast

There you have it! The easiest, healthy, homemade baked beans that will quite literally blow your mind. My father-in-law special requested these for his birthday in July because they're THAT good!

The next time you need a sugar free baked beans recipe, I hope you choose this one! Be sure to leave a star rating and review below so I and other readers know how you liked them! You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram. I love seeing my recipes in your home!

Ready in one hour with just one pot, these Healthy Homemade Baked Beans are the BEST baked beans recipe because of the sweet and spicy homemade sauce with hidden pieces of savory bacon. They're also naturally gluten-free and refined sugar-free.


Brooke Harmer













  • 2 cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3 strips Jennie-O turkey bacon, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • ¼ C Stubb's Spicy BBQ Sauce
  • ¼ C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar-free maple syrup
  • 1½ Tbsp dijon
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 Tbsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  1. Heat a large skillet or pot to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Saute the bacon, shallots, and garlic for 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Turn down the heat to low.
  2. Add in all the remaining ingredients to the pot and mix until well combined. Cover with a lid and cook for 40 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes to reduce the sauce. Serve warm with your favorite dish.
  4. Leave a star rating and review for this recipe so other readers know how you liked it!


Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/2 cup of baked beans.


Serving: 1/2 cup / Calories: 171 / Fat: 1.3g / Saturated Fat: 0.3g / Sodium: 570mg / Carbohydrates: 32.1g / Fiber: 6.8g / Sugar: 5.4g / Protein: 10.1g