Not all baked beans you’ll find at the grocery store are safe on a gluten-free diet. You might wonder how gluten—a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye—can make its way into baked beans. The beans themselves should be gluten-free (assuming they’ve been protected from gluten cross-contamination in processing). However, problematic recipe additives range from Worcestershire sauce (only some Worcestershire sauces are gluten-free) to liquid smoke flavoring (which often includes barley).
Therefore, when you’re shopping for gluten-free baked beans, stick with these four brands:
- Amy’s Kitchen (one variety available and it’s gluten-free)
- B&M (all varieties are gluten-free)
- Bush’s Best (all varieties are gluten-free)
- Heinz (some varieties are gluten-free; see below for which ones to buy)
Here are the details on which baked beans you can trust when you’re following the gluten-free diet.
Amy’s Kitchen Vegetarian/Vegan Baked Beans
Amy’s Kitchen offers organic vegetarian/vegan baked beans that also appear on Amy’s extensive gluten-free list. The baked beans recipe starts with organic white beans and mixes in tomato puree, mustard seed, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup.
The company meets legal gluten-free standards of less than 20 parts per million of gluten in its products. The baked beans also are dairy-free, lactose-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, and kosher. Note that the recipe does include grain-based vinegar, so if you’re sensitive to that (some people react to vinegar derived from gluten grains), you might want to steer clear.
B&M Baked Beans
B&M makes seven different types of baked beans: Original, Boston’s Best, Vegetarian, Country Style, Maple, Bacon & Onion, and Homestyle. All are available in cans, and some also come in more traditional glass jars. All include navy beans.
All of B&M’s baked bean flavors are considered gluten-free to the legal standard of less than 20 parts per million, according to the company, a division of B&G Foods, Inc.
Bush’s Best Baked Beans
Bush’s baked beans are available in most mainstream grocery stores nationwide, and offer an easy choice for gluten-free baked beans since all varieties are gluten-free. You can choose from Original, Vegetarian, Barbecue, Brown Sugar Hickory, Country Style, Homestyle, Maple & Cured Bacon, Honey Sweet, Onion, Bold & Spicy, and Boston Recipe.
According to Bush’s frequently asked questions, even the vinegar used in the company’s products is free from gluten grains: “All Bush’s canned bean products are gluten-free. We do use cornstarch in some of our products, but it does not contain gliadin gluten from wheat, barley, oats or rye grains, which may cause adverse responses in people suffering from Celiac Sprue. In addition, any vinegar used in our canned bean products is corn-based and distilled.”
Heinz Baked Beans
Heinz, makers of the most popular gluten-free ketchup brand, also markets baked beans in numerous different varieties, including Original, Bourbon & Molasses, Bacon & Brown Sugar, Bold & Spicy, Hickory Smoke, Molasses & Pork, and Sweet & Spicy.
However, only three of these varieties are considered gluten-free by the company: Original, Hickory Smoke, and Molasses & Pork. None of these three flavors are vegetarian.
Note that all three gluten-free Heinz baked bean flavors contain distilled vinegar, but Heinz uses vinegar that’s derived from corn. Also note that the Hickory Smoke baked beans contain smoke flavoring, but that ingredient does not include barley (most smoke flavoring does include barley as an ingredient).
Baked Bean Brands That Aren’t Gluten-Free
None of these products are recommended on a gluten-free diet:
Campbell’s Chunky Original Baked Beans
Campbell’s, best known for its soups, also makes one variety of baked beans: Campbell’s Chunky Original Baked Beans. However, the product does not appear on Campbell’s gluten-free list.
Grandma Brown’s Home Baked Beans
This brand, made in New York, is a regional favorite. Unfortunately, the company is notoriously close-lipped about the recipe and ingredients, so you’re better off choosing another brand.
Pacific Foods Baked Beans
Pacific Foods, which makes a variety of gluten-free soups, also makes two different types of baked beans: Traditional Baked Beans with Pork and Organic Vegetarian Baked Beans. However, neither of these is considered gluten-free by the company.
Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Beans
The grocery chain does offer store-brand baked beans, but they don’t appear on Trader Joe’s gluten-free list.
Van Camp’s Baked Beans
Billed as “America’s Original Beans,” Van Camp’s baked beans are available in Original, Hickory, and Bacon flavors. Van Camp’s also makes port and beans, plus Beanee Weenie, which is baked beans with sliced hot dogs added. Van Camp’s is owned by Conagra Brands, Inc., which does label some foods gluten-free. Unfortunately, none of Van Camp’s bean-based products appear on Conagra’s gluten-free list.
A Word From Tips For Healthy Living
Beans are a great source of fiber, which is a bonus because fiber frequently is lacking in the gluten-free diet. Plus, baked beans are the perfect addition to a summer barbecue or a casual winter meal.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find gluten-free baked beans at most supermarkets—most of the safe brands are widely distributed. But if you’d prefer to make your own, recipes for baked beans are simple to follow and generally turn out well. Just make sure to use safe ingredients like gluten-free Worcestershire sauce and gluten-free barbecue sauce.