Smoky Apple Baked Beans

by on February 14, 2013
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Smoky Apple Baked Beans from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know that on this day of love, I’m supposed to offer you a rich, sugary indulgence or at least a romantic dinner for two with aphrodisiac potential, but what, dear reader, do I have in store for you instead? The lowly and much-maligned bean.

But wait, could there be any more thoughtful or loving gift of food? After all, in the words of the immortal “Ode to Beans”:

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,
The more you eat…

…the healthier you are! Or something like that. And it’s true: They’re excellent sources of soluble fiber, antioxidants, and folate. According to WHFoods, “As little as 3/4 cup of garbanzos per day can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in a one-month period of time.” And black beans, with their dark skins, are loaded with phytonutrients so they’re especially heart-protective. Moreover, beans are good for lowering blood sugar, promoting digestive health, and decreasing risk of cancer. We all want our Valentines to be healthy!

So my Valentine’s gift to you today is this sweet and spicy casserole, made with three types of heart-healthy beans. I couldn’t resist the chance to make a normally bacon-laden dish in the “pig baker” casserole dish that my sweet husband and daughter bought me for Christmas. I’d seen it in a local kitchen store and thought it was adorable, and apparently they were taking notes because they surprised me with it on Christmas day. I love his stub nose and floppy ears, and I’m happy to give him a home where he will never be forced to cook bacon or ham.

Speaking of bacon, most baked bean recipes almost cancel the health benefits of the beans by loading them down with pork and sugar, but my delicious vegan beans are sweetened only with dates and apples. And, if you’re watching your salt, you can cut the sodium in half by using unsalted beans. So cook them for someone you love today!

Smoky Apple Baked Beans

Have a lovely and loving V-Day!


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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracey February 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Love all your recipes, I have a binder full of them. Think I will add this one to it. And I love your little pig dish.


2 Claire February 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I looooove homemade baked beans, but hate how sugar-heavy they are. What a refreshing recipe! Cannot wait to try :)


3 Jessica Caneal February 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

This dish looks great and I was so happy to see someone posting a hearty and healthy dish today instead of all that junk food out there right now. Also, I would really love to know where you got your piggy dish!


4 Vienna February 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Click on “pig baker casserole dish.” She linked it to the site where you can purchase it.


5 Sara February 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

1. This recipe looks AMAZING! I made your vegan cabbage rolls the other day and they were fantastic, so I’m definitely going to give these a try 2. That pig casserole dish is the cutest thing! Thanks for sharing!


6 maryeb February 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I love baked beans. This looks like a wonderful variation. Thanks much!


7 Elisa February 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks for a great savory and healthy valentine’s day treat. My valentine will be thanking you :) Beans are his favorite meal.


8 Marian Gleason February 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm

LOVE having the photo on the printable version and I LOVE seeing your signature!! Can’t wait to make this dish – need to go shopping for a few ingredients first!! I already gave you ONE shout-out on my FB page today (Cherry Date-Nut Balls for my sweetie pie) – keep ’em coming, Susan!! <3 xxMarian


9 Tracy February 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hi Susan,
I can’t wait to make this it looks delicious!
And I love the dish 😉
Thanks for all that you do, I (and I know countless others) really appreciate it.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you too :-)


10 Terry Covington February 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Thank you, this looks really great! And I never would have thought to add apples to beans, and now I wonder where this combination has been all my life. I can’t wait to try it. Also, I have wanted to say that I SO appreciate the nutrition information you include at the end of every recipe. As a diabetic who is trying to eat mainly vegetarian, it’s hard to figure out the carb/fiber combinations in a lot of recipes — so you are doing a real service. Happy Valentine’s Day!


11 Liz February 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I am HIGHLY coveting your pig casserole dish; it is quite possibly THE most adorable thing I’ve ever set eyes on. :)
And what’s in it? Yes, please! WHY did *I* never think about using fruit to sweeten my baked beans? I exclusively use fruit and stevia to sweeten anything in my kitchen (for non-savory dishes) so how did it not occur to me to do that with the criminally sugar heavy traditional bean dish? For shame! Thanks again for being a miracle worker; I can’t wait to try this!


12 Cheryl February 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Just think how long that piggy will live with all those beans in him? hehe
Is there a kind of apple that works better than another?
This looks so good, the ingredients I lack just went on the shopping list!


13 Susan Voisin February 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Cheryl, I prefer crispy apples, such as Honeycrisp and Sweetango for this. Hope you enjoy it!


14 Trish February 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I have been looking for a good bean recipe, without loads of sugar, bacon, molasses etc. Thank you. I will try this recipe ASAP and post a review.


15 Debbie February 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Thank you for the delicious recipe! I definately will be making this. I also love your pig dish – what store did you get that at?



16 Susan Voisin February 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I got it here in Jackson at The Everyday Gourmet. They don’t seem to have it on their site, but you might be able to find it in another kitchen store.


17 Emma February 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

This looks so good, and ridiculously easy! Love the 3 Legume combo too.


18 Bookwerme February 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Made this for lunch…as closely as I could since I didn’t have precisely the same ingredients…but it was DELICIOUS and will surely become a regular addition to the menus at my house!!! THANKS!


19 janet @ the taste space February 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

YES!! Beans are the way into my heart, too. :) I am continually impressed by their versatility… the recipes are never ending. Can’t wait to try this out.


20 Tikva February 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm

This Recipe looks SO delicious, but there are a couple of ingredients that I am unsure of as I live in New Zealand, those being the Tomato Sauce (which is a condiment over here, aka Ketchup) and the Great Northern Beans (which I haven’t been able to find here). Would Tomato Puree with a few seasonings and Cannellini Beans be good substitutes for the above? Many thanks for any help you can give!


21 Susan Voisin February 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Yes, to both your questions! Those sound like excellent substitutions.


22 Nancye February 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi Tikva…

I am from Australia, and I just used the bottled tomato sauce, the type one would use for the sauce when making Pasta. I used the white cannelloni beans, and they were fine. I used tinned beans rinsed thoroughly, perfect…

Thanks Nancye…


23 Connie Smith February 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Oh that sounds amazing. And lucky me I have all the ingredients on hand too. Going to make those this weekend for sure. I love beans! Thanks for sharing with us.


24 Theresa February 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

OMG, the pig dish is out of stock! I need it! I have a collection of pigs… :)
Oh, and I am so tryingt his bean recipe!


25 judy426 February 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Hi Susan, I have enjoyed your site for a very long time now and E’s opinions and suggestions!! Can you please clarify what it is I am to click on to save a recipe to my “Recipe Box”? Thank you for your help with this and with all the wonderful, healthful recipes and info. you share with us. Blessing to you and your family.


26 Susan Voisin February 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Thanks for your kind words, Judy! To add a recipe to your box, look all the way up at the top of the post, just above “Pin It” and below my name. You should see “Add to Recipe Box” there. Just click that, and the recipe should be added. Let me know if you have any problems with it.


27 Susan February 14, 2013 at 11:43 pm

You inspire me…I love your recipes and have tried some…and bookmarked many more! Thank you!


28 Em February 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

Yum! and making this soon and I also have some serious pig casserole dish envy! Thanks for the link- it is out of stick but I will put it on my wish list.
I might add a bit of red miso instead of or along with the tamari… but I am certainly going to making this! Thanks!!!


29 The Vegan Cookie Fairy February 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

WOW. I have GOT to try this. It looks like the ideal meal to come home to… can you make this in advance on re-heat later? Does it freeze well? I wish this kind of stuff was available in supermarkets for quick comfort food, it’d be amazing!


30 Susan Voisin February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

I haven’t frozen it, but I have reheated and it does well as long as you keep it covered and add a little water if it seems like it might get dried out. I agree about supermarkets–it’s a shame there’re no truly healthy options.


31 Laura February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe! This is my first trip to your site and it looks great! Love your pig dish….any hints at where you found such a clever dish for a vegan?


32 Laura February 15, 2013 at 11:19 am

Found the link to the pig dish :)


33 Lacey February 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm

We made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! The flavors melded so nicely together and we love using dates in lieu of sugar. Our 2 year old gobbled it right up. This is definitely going to be a staple in our home :)


34 rahrahxer February 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Beans are in the oven and the smell is amazing. Can’t wait to get them out and dig in!!!


35 Jacqueline February 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm

They look wonderful Susan and I do love your casserole dish. I like that the meal in the dish is one pig would enjoy, rather than him being the main ingredient.


36 Melissa Post February 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I just made the Smokey Apple Baked Beans. Amazing!! So absolutely delicious! I made a couple of tweeks. My husband isn’t a huge fan of onions so I only used one onion and used two apples and added a few slivered almonds. I also doubled the incredibly wonderful sauce! Thank you for such an outstanding recipe!


37 Susan Feeny February 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm

We really liked the Valentine Suprise Special (that beanny meanny thing you sent for valentines day!). It is a keeper! I never completely follow a recepe so ours is a bit hotter than yours but we like it that way. Keep up the good work? I trust the things you post. You must test drive them all. Right?


38 bunsofaluminum February 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

This is the rhyme I like:

Beans! Beans! the musical fruit!
the more you eat, the more you toot!
The more you toot, the better you feel
So let’s eat beans for EVERY meal!


and yes, I’m gonna give that there recipe a try right soon. It looks completely decadent yummy.


39 Trish February 16, 2013 at 11:51 am

This is another great recipe! Thank you again Susan. I didn’t have any Liquid Smoke but I did have the smoked paprika. Other than that, I just used a can of diced tomatoes instead of the tomato sauce, which I did’t have in stock. I will be making this dish regularly.


40 Karen Wechner February 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

LOVE the pig dish!


41 Daniela February 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I made this tonight and it was so very good! I think next time I’ll double to sauce because I love my beans soaking in it, but either way it was very yummy! Thanks!


42 moonwatcher February 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Hi Susan,

I am just catching up after getting back. This looks fantastic–what a great idea to use fruit t sweeten baked beans! I am in! And the pig dish is splendid. Beautiful photos, too.




43 Amy February 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I made this tonight for dinner, but it seemed dry…I think I put in too many beans. When using cooked beans instead of canned ( for lower sodium), how many beans equal the contents of a can? I weighed out 15 oz, but is that too much? Thanks,


44 Susan Voisin February 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I usually use 1 1/2 cups of beans to equal 1 can. Often canned beans are softer than cooked beans, so that might have been part of the problem.


45 Abra February 18, 2013 at 11:25 am

I made this last week and thought it was delicious. I gave some to a friend who really loved it and so did my husband :). For me it was like eating BBQ baked beans. Can’t wait to make this again as part of a summertime BBQ!


46 Shani_Boc February 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

I made the Smokey Apple Baked Beans dish last night and it was FABULOUS! I just had it for lunch and the left overs were even better. Instead of tomato sauce, I used a 15 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes and just increased the other ingredients then blended. I also used real smokes chipotle peppers instead of a powder. It packed a spicy-hot-sweet punch, but it was oh so lovely.

Six Weeks Vegan Today


47 Michele Martin February 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

This is my new favorite baked bean dish. I used a large green pepper and 1/2 of a lg. red pepper. I added an extra 6 or so ounces of black beans. I then doubled all the sauce ingredients, as I like saucier beans. (I used 1/2 cup brown sugar in
place of the dates) . I left out the black and chipolte peppers. My family and I loved it. It’s a keeper. Thanks very much!


48 Lisa H February 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

Made these last night and they were awesome!!! My husband is not a big apple fan but he did not even realize thhey were in there and had a second helping. Would be a great dish for a reunion or potluck!


49 Julie February 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Dear Susan- I love your website. Your recipes are always wonderful. They are so easy to use. You have made losing weight a real pleasure. I have lost 55 Lbs. to date. Thank you for your work in devoloping these recipes and for being so kind in sharing your wonderful talent with others. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. It looks really good.


50 Valerie February 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thanks; I’m going to make this today. Baked beans always taste so good on a very cold winter day. I’ll probably skip the dates and add 1/4 c. maple syrup to make Canadian-style baked beans.


51 Jessica T February 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

Delicious. I paired it with some honey roasted butternut squash and it was the perfect lunch for this cold winter day!


52 NBMaggie February 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Dear Susan,
I use so many recipes from your lovely website and never even write back a thank you – says volumes about my manners, eh? This past week I’ve made two ‘Absolute Keepers’ of yours and so simply must tell you how happy these recipes make me. Earlier I made your Hearty Split Pea Soup (you know, the recipe which also adds diced potato – soooo good!)

I get so excited as I see the elements of the recipe come together…I know, I need a life. I’ve just finished setting the luscious pot of Smoky Apple Baked Beans into the oven to finish. Oh, they smell so yummy! Not a word of a lie, my mouth is watering even as I keyboard this comment. Now, I’m guessing it probably drives you crazy when posters say how they modified your recipe, but all I changed was the volume of sauce. It is so scrumptious that I knew that I’d want more so I doubled it just so I’d have enough to sop up my plate with some good whole grain bread. I know this is the kind of recipe that is better the second day but there’s no way I can wait.

Thank you so much for all the work you put into your recipes. It is appreciated by this old vegan who loves to cook.


53 Sharon Seymour February 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I could live on the sauce for this dish! Didn’t have liquid smoke, so put in a bit of vegan Worcestershire and a little extra smoked paprika.


54 Julie February 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I made this recipe on Valentine’s Day, the day it was posted! It turned out great, and the only changes I might make next time is to just use one kind of bean and 2 peppers instead of just one. The sauce was perfection, loved the addition of the dates for thickening and sweetness. None of the ingredients were hard to come by, I had everything in my cupboards already. Thanks!


55 lindsay February 25, 2013 at 3:31 am

I made this last night as an all-in-one casserole with bulghar wheat – it’s lovely!


56 Heather February 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Absolutely delicious! I doubled the sauce because I like a lot of sauce, and it turned out great. Not soupy at all. I love this recipe, but to me it is very spicy. Next time (I will definitely be making these again!), I will cut down the chipotle a bit. Thanks for another great creation!


57 Renard Moreau February 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

[ Smiles ] Smoky apple and baked beans; who else would have thought about that one?

Thanks for sharing another wonderful vegan recipe!


58 Esther J February 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I have been eyeing this recipe for the two weeks you’ve had it up, and finally was able to make it last night. Very yummy! I even got my stepfather, who generally doesn’t like my vegan fat-free cooking, but loves, loves (did I say he loves?!) traditionally cooked baked beans to eat a nice hearty serving.

I definitely will be making these for summertime BBQs!

Thanks, Susan!


59 Esther J March 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Also, I should’ve added that the cold leftover beans made a very delicious addition to a nice, big eat-to-live salad.


60 Janna March 1, 2013 at 11:42 am

This was delicious! I ended up using double the amount of recommended dates but everything else was the same. Normally I don’t look forward to leftovers however that was not the case with this recipe. I literally was eating this (and loving it) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Am already planning on making again. :-) Thank you for a fantastic recipe!


61 Dawn March 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I thought these turned out great, and the leftovers only get better and more flavorful. Some of said leftovers have gone into burritos – with rocket, chopped tomatoes, black olives, avocado and salsa. Pretty tasty!


62 maryeb March 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I made this the last week and it was wonderful, the best baked beans ever! Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be making it again very soon.


63 Sandy March 8, 2013 at 10:16 am

I just made these! I didn’t have dates so I used agave and I didn’t have the liquid smoke but they were still delicious…. and this is coming from a non-vegan. :)


64 SouthernBelle March 27, 2013 at 7:39 am

Love, love, love this recipe! It may be the best one you’ve ever made, but then I say that about all of them. I took it to a family party last weekend and it was a hit. The apple, dates and liquid smoke create the most incredible blend of flavors. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into making your blog and your recipes so family friendly and delicious.



65 Cindy White April 11, 2013 at 8:00 am

This was a wonderful recipe and proves that I can still have rich and savory dishes. The use of the date was brilliant. I also tried the curried cauliflower and it also rocked. You are a rock star! I have not been disappointed by any of your recipes yet!


66 j l koz April 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I’m not totally Vegan yet,but I’m diabetic & count & watch carbs.
I love all vegetables except okra & artichokes,yet I love spinach artichoke dip.
I’m sure to find many recipes on your site.


67 Chris June 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

recipe looks great- love the dish, although it looks cast iron and your instructions say to use a non metal dish.. so I am kinda of entertained by that!! lol


68 Susan Voisin June 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Thanks, Chris. The baking dish is made of clay.


69 Stacy June 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I love your recipes, Susan! Inspirational! Do you think I could cook this recipe in a crockpot?


70 Susan Voisin June 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Yes, you’ll have to experiment with the timing, but I’m sure it would work great.


71 Emma M July 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

I made this recipe last night, and I think the only alterations I made was the addition of 7-grain tempeh as well as omitting the ground chipotle pepper (only because I didn’t have it). It turned out absolutely delicious! I usually have to change recipes a bit to ‘healthify’ them (or adjust to flavor preference), but thankfully I didn’t have to for yours :). The combination of the sweet apple and smoky beans paired beautifully. Thanks for the recipe, I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon!!


72 Robin July 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Tried this tonight. Accidentally opened kidney beans instead of black beans. Also had some leftover lentils I tossed in. This recipe is a keeper! My husband and I really enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing!


73 Jessica July 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I love this recipe! I have wanted to make baked beans for such a long time and with this recipe it couldnt be easier. I added a 1/4 C of raisins instead of dates without blending and added coconut sugar for sweetness and they are seriously yum :)


74 Allison July 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm

I’ve looked at many of your recipes. I’m finally ready to review one. My fiance and I are vegan are truly appreciated this thicker, heartier, vegan approach to baked beans. We added a little more tomato sauce, some lapsang souchong dry tea, white miso paste instead of soy sauce, maple syrup to the roasting vegetables, more garlic cloves, a whole dried chipotle pepper, a splash of bourbon whiskey and 1.5 apples total. We probably used less liquid smoke but the tea really added another flavor to it. We used braeburn apples and the flavor wasn’t there at all aside from some extra sweetness, and texture. This recipe was simply amazing, much better than any other generic recipe we have found. Next time I’d love to try a more flavorful apple. Thank you for this amazing recipe. The two of us at it all in one sitting. If you’re looking for saucy side dish, this is not it (double the sauce if that’s what you want). If you’re looking for a sweet/spicy baked beans that-could be chili-could be sloppy joes-could be gourmet-could be rustic-ultimately, heaven on earth. Right here.


75 Robin August 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Susan do you think this recipe can be made in a crock pot?


76 Jenn August 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

This was so good. I had been wanting to try this and we were wanting a filling warm comfort food meal. These were of course the main hit of the meal. The little that were left were just as delicious cold the next day. We had this with your easy Mac and cheeze, your confetti cornbread, and some steamed collard greens.


77 Alex October 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for the recipe. It sounds really delicious. Instead of dates, I’m using a combo of molasses and a homemade apple BBQ sauce. Should be yummy!


78 Leiah October 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Is there a reason why you recommend a non-metal baking dish? I don’t have any non-metal baking dishes… Is it just for presentation’s sake, or does metal somehow affect the taste of the food? Thanks!


79 Susan Voisin October 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I recommend non-metal for two reasons. First, I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but I always think I can taste the difference when acidic foods are cooked in metal. But more importantly, metal cooks faster, so if you change the dish you’ll need to watch it closely to figure out the correct timing since I haven’t cooked it in a metal dish.


80 Patricia Maddox February 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Read many times how good these beans are. Indeed, absolutely delicious.!


81 Susie February 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

I made these wonderful beans over the weekend, and they will definitely be in regular rotation for our meals! The flavor was wonderful. I doubled the sauce, since we like our beans a bit on the soupy side, and used a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, since I didn’t have tomato sauce, but otherwise made according to the recipe. We loved it! Thank you, Susan, for your pkethora of truly tasty vegan recipes that make my life so much easier. You rock!


82 Carrie February 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

This is an amazing baked bean recipe with a delicious complex group of flavors that work so well together. A week ago I made this for our dinner group. It was a huge hit and many wanted the recipe! Everyone joked how it was that I hid bacon in a vegan bean dish because of the smoke flavor. This was the first time using ground chipotle pepper. It’s my new favorite!


83 Judeen January 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Delicious deluxe! I have made many of your recipes and all top notch. Great job.


84 Sara April 25, 2015 at 9:09 pm

Can these beans be made in a crockpot? If so, how long would you suggest?


85 Marlene July 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Hi. I live in New Zealand. I like your fat free recipes, mainly the types that I can freeze in meal size containers. This suits my work/life style. The two recipes of yours that I have tried to date have black-eyed peas in them. Very tasty! I have lost a large amount of weight over last year. 44 kgs. I have learnt to plan my meals by putting food values on the recipe ingredients. Your low fat recipes are great for this. So glad that I have stumbled across your site. Thank you. Marlene


86 Carol October 9, 2015 at 10:12 pm


I find your recipes very reliable and I’ve made a few and have more in the “que.”

This oen is delicious; I’ve made it twice within about eight days–and the first time I ate the whole thing by myself (not all at once).

BUT, you must add an addendum to this recipe. If you put some of the leftovers in a food processor, you will have the most absolutely wonderful, flavorful, delicious spread for crackers or a sandwich or even to just eat with a fork. I cannot think of any spreads which I’ve made (including some pretty good hummus) which is as good as this. It is definitely worth making the casserole just for the resulting yummy spread!

Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing it.


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