Vegetarian Crock Pot Spicy Barbecue Baked Beans for the Slow Cooker with Bourbon


Vegetarian Crock Pot Spicy Barbecue Baked Beans for the Slow Cooker


1 LB dry Great Northern Beans (or canned equivalent - likely about 2 lbs or more) 

1 TBS butter (olive oil if you are vegan)

1 large sweet onion - diced (reserve the butt ends of the onion - unpeeled)

3 cloves garlic - minced

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1/2 cup good quality maple syrup

2 TBS Worcestershire sauce (use vegetarian if anchovies are off your diet)

1 TBS Dijon mustard

2 TBS ground mustard

1/4 cup molasses

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 TBS Kosher salt

10 whole cloves

Hot sauce (like Tabasco) to taste (I used a LOT & my beans are SPICY!)

1 cup Bourbon (optional) OR Jack Daniels Whiskey with Tennessee Honey (optional)

Honey (optional)

Ketchup (optional)

Barbecue Sauce (optional - but not recommended - as I want you to create a BBQ sauce truly from scratch)

S&P to taste


If using dry beans - cover them in water two or three inches over the beans.  Soak overnight - at least.  A day or more - if you can.  This helps them cook more evenly & - it seems - helps break down something called phytic acid which (it also seems) is the culprit behind "Beans, beans - good for your heart.  The more you eat the more you fart."    Read more HERE.  I only soaked mine overnight but I cooked them for so long - I think I achieved a maximized fart-free recipe!  Of course - I never fart.  No women do.  Just that nasty dog - and the boys in the house.  Right, ladies?  :-)

Pick out any stones or other debris & rinse the beans well when you are ready to start cooking them.  Set aside.

Take the butt end of your onion & spice 5 whole cloves into each one - from the outside (thru the onion paper).  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan & saute the onions until they become caramely and soft.  Add garlic for thirty seconds & remove from heat scrape into your slow cooker.  

In a large bowl - whisk together every other ingredient except the bourbon or whiskey (if using) & the beans.  Taste this barbecue sauce.   Play with the flavor by adding a little more of this or that.  Try to avoid the cheat of using pre-made BBQ sauce - but if you love a smokier flavor (for example) and you have a smokey BBQ sauce on hand - feel free to dump some in there.  Once you think this flavor is about right - put the beans in the slow cooker over the onions.  Stir in your sauce & the bourbon/whiskey (if using) & blend it all well.  Add enough water so that the beans have about 1/2 inch cover or more.  Drop the two cloved onion butts on top. Cover & cook.  And cook & cook & cook.  I cooked on high 12 hours & then left it on warm overnight & repeated this the next day.  If I left the house during the day - I lowered it to low & put it back on high when I returned.  Stir these beans often.  They should thicken very nicely over time.  The longer they cook - the better they will be.  If they get too thick - just add a little water & mix it in.  The flavor can continually be adjusted as these beans cook - so - if you want them sweeter - add more brown sugar.  Or add more spice.  Whatever you want.  When you are ready to serve them - toss the two onion ends.

I found that the al dente point on the beans was reached after 36 hours of cooking & that they did not soften measurably with an additional 36 hours of stewing in the sauce.  

If you are using canned beans - this can all be done stove top in a heavy bottomed stock pot & the beans could be done in a few hours.  I haven't tried this shortcut yet - but I imagine the beans will retain their paler color unless you give them a day or two in the sauce.

Also know - these can be made way in advance & reheated or frozen for another time.  Feel free to double, triple or quadruple the recipe & freeze a whole bunch.  I know I did!

Serve as a side or with hotdogs or over cornbread - whatever!  ENJOY!