If you're looking for a quicker baked beans recipe that doesn't involve an overnight soak, or hours in the oven, my Healthy Baked Beans recipe is for you! We use lentils instead of dry beans to shave hours off the usual homemade baked beans cooking time. These homemade baked beans are tender, smoky, and saucy, while still being a much healthier version - no added sugars, low sodium, low saturated fat, while still high in protein and fiber!
What to Serve with Baked Beans
Here are some of my favorite things to serve with these sugar free baked beans:
- Mediterranean Black Bean Burger
- Over Brown Rice
- Garlic Potato Wedges
- Whole Grain Toast
- Grilled Broccoli and Onions
- Baked Potato (white or sweet!)
- Sweet Potato Cornbread
- On a Tossed Salad
Are Baked Beans Good For Your Heart?
Canned baked beans have some redeeming qualities - especially depending on the variety - but canned baked beans do tend to not be a great heart healthy choice. While high in protein and fiber, they also tend to be high in sodium, added sugar, and often, saturated fat and cholesterol.
These sugar free baked beans are much healthier than your typical canned baked beans. For one, I'm using pureed dates instead of brown sugar or molasses (read about why I love dates so much here: Heart Healthy Date Sauce). This allows us to forgo added sugar completely, while still enjoying a bit of caramel-like sweetness.
Another swap to make these low sodium baked beans, is using liquid smoke instead of bacon. This allows us to keep the smokey deliciousness of bacon without all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and other preservatives. Real talk here: bacon is delicious, but putting it on and in literally everything is very likely to harm your health - or at least contribute to health problems. A slice on your burger once in a while is probably fine, but daily bacon isn't such a good idea.
But that doesn't mean we can't have flavor! Another option here is smoked paprika if you can't find liquid smoke.
FAQs and Substitutions
I wouldn't recommend red lentils for this particular recipe. Red lentils cook up very quickly, and then start to break down, so you wouldn't have much texture left and mostly mush.
Technically, yes. For navy beans, I would recommend an overnight soak in water before cooking. Your cooking time on the stove will be around an hour to an hour and a half. Otherwise, you can follow this recipe as written.
Yes! To freeze, portion the beans into the amount you want, in freezer safe containers. Allow to cool completely. Then put the lid on the containers, and freeze completely for up to 6 months or more (quality may start to deteriorate after 6 months, but will still be safe to eat at long as it's been frozen solid the whole time).
Lentil Baked Beans can pull double duty, too! Since they're so healthy, you can use the leftovers (if there even are any!), to pile on top of toast for a quick breakfast or dinner, or eat right out of a bowl! They even go great on a big green salad - no dressing required!
This Healthy Homemade Baked Beans recipe is bound to be a hit at your next picnic! Let me know in the comments if you make them. I love hearing from you!
Healthy Baked Beans (with lentils)
Using lentils makes this version of baked beans a snap. No soaking required! These are smoky and sweet, and go perfect with your summer BBQ, without undoing all your healthy goals!
- 1 pound Dry, green (or brown) lentils
- 1 Bay leaf
- 5 cups Homemade vegetable broth, or low/no sodium vegetable broth
- 1 ¾ cup Water
- ½ cup whole, pitted Dates
- 1 tablespoon Low sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard Powder
- ½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ½ Large Onion, chopped
- ½ cup Low Sugar Ketchup, or BBQ Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven, or other large, ovenproof pot, combine lentils, bay leaf, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes, until liquid is completely absorbed. Discard bay leaf.
In the meantime, in a small pot, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add dates.
When lentils are done, add the date/water mixture to a high-speed blender, and add soy sauce, dry mustard, liquid smoke, and ginger. Process on high speed until smooth.
Add date mixture, chopped onion, and ketchup or BBQ sauce to lentils, and stir. Bake, covered, for 45-60 minutes. Uncover the last 15 minutes.
Note that the lentils will absorb liquid as they sit. If you like your baked beans saucier, add 1-2 cups of vegetable broth or water, stirring to combine.
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