Baked-beans-from-scratch options?

The recipe is still in the oven, but I’m trying to do home-baked vegetarian baked beans from scratch for the first time. My basic recipe is the one at, with the addition of about 1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, and replacing two of the cans of tomato sauce with 1 6-oz can tomato paste, 3 oz bourbon, an extra ounce of vinegar (replacing the cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar).

While I like the sweet taste of baked beans, I’m uncertain about how this sort of recipe will work with non-nutritive sweeteners rather than brown sugar and molasses. Has anyone tried this with Splenda brown sugar blend, or replacing the molasses with blue agave syrup, or using less sweetener altogether? If so, how did it come out?

I’ve made a really good BBQ sauce with diet coke, believe it or not. I bet it would work for baked beans too: here are the ingredients-
2 strips of thick bacon, chopped fine (optional)
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (12 oz) diet (sugar-free) cola - Splenda-sweetened preferred
1/4 cup low carb (sugar-free) catsup,
3 T mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cloves

I’ve heard about using Coca-Cola… I haven’t tried it, though. I don’t eat any pork products, mostly for religious reasons. One reason I went with this particular recipe is that I didn’t have to worry about the high-fructose corn syrup in the no-salt-added ketchup, or the sodium in the low-carb ketchup… I used no-salt-added tomato sauce and no-salt-added tomato paste, bringing the per-serving (based on the original recipe’s 45-grams dry beans/100-gram cooked beans serving size) in at 30 mg sodium instead of the original 570 mg (or the more usual 900+ mg for the canned stuff).

So far, it looks as if this should work OK with less sweetener, less tomato product, and more bourbon – I should probably be able to halve, or eliminate, the brown sugar, and replace one can of tomato sauce with a mixture of vinegar and bourbon the next time I try this. Currently, the stated serving size, as I reworked it, comes in at 50 g carb, of which 12 g are fiber and a whopping 16.28 g are sugar. Removing the brown sugar would remove about 5 g sugar per serving. The swap of tomato sauce for vinegar and bourbon would be sugar-neutral.

At least, this first effort is aimed at a picnic tomorrow, where not everyone will be watching carbs and sugars. And experimentation is always fun :slight_smile: