With a cornbread crust made with whole grain cornmeal, this surprisingly easy vegan bean casserole is comfort food at its most nourishing. Serve it with a crunchy slaw whenever you’re in the mood for a little barbecue flavor.

Shopping tip: When choosing cornmeal, look for the words "whole grain" on the package. Avoid "degermed" or "degerminated" cornmeal because once the germ has been removed, it's no longer a whole grain.

By Carla Christian, RD, LD,


  • 2 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz. cans no-salt-added cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup low-sugar barbecue sauce
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pure cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened plant milk, such as almond, soy, cashew, or rice
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large nonstick skillet cook the first five ingredients (through garlic) over medium 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  • In a 2-qt. baking dish combine cooked vegetables, beans, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, and 3 tsp. of the vinegar. Bake, covered, 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, for topping, in a small bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl combine milk, applesauce, and the remaining 1 tsp. vinegar. Add milk mixture all at once to cornmeal mixture; stir just until combined. Spoon batter into four mounds on top of hot bean mixture.
  • Bake 20 minutes more or until filling is bubbly and a toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with green onions.

Comments (67)

(5 from 27 votes)

Recipe Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Monica Riley

This was very easy to make and amazingly delicious! Even non-vegan guests loved it. Definitely a keeper, will be making this again and again!

Judith Caffrey

It would be nice to have bbq sauce recommendations to assure it’s vegan. I am going to cook this as soon as I get home from vacation. Does the recipe have a nutritional values chart?

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Judith, We're happy to say that many store-bought barbecue sauces are vegan these days, just be sure to read the label and avoid any that contain ingredients such as honey, beef stock, fish sauce, or Worcestershire sauce (which is often flavored with fish sauce). Another option is to make your own using this recipe, which is sweetened with dates: https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-sauces-condiments/easy-date-barbecue-sauce/ We are currently working on adding nutritional information to all our recipes and anticipate this feature to be live on the website within the next few months. Please stay tuned for updates!


I also used less sugar. To give it a southern flair, I used collard greens instead of the Swiss chard.


What is the “slaw?”


This was very good. I made it as written and froze it as individual portions. Thawed and ate one serving tonight and it was very good!


FAB recipe. A winner. Reduced sugar to 1/2 T. Used a spicy low sugar barbecue sauce. Yum!


Very good. I reduced the sugar to 3/4 tablespoon.


This has become a family staple. Everyone loves the cornbread topping! Yum! Thank you so much for all your inspiration Forks Over Knives


Such a nice recipe! For everyone asking for nutritional info, the fact is that whole foods like beans cannot, and should not, be reduced to carbohydrates. Every other food blog on the internet provides the info--you might consider Minimalist Baker or Chocolate Covered Katie if Forks bothers you so much.


Made as directed except added 1/2 tsp. of chipotle chili powder to give it some heat and a bit of smokiness! My non vegan partner enjoyed it as much as I did. Follow cooking times exactly as I did not and I think some of the delicious sauce boiled away (while covered) before I added the cornbread topper. Definitely a keeper!

Michelle Provencal

This was great! Easy to prepare with items I usually have on hand & tastes great!


This was amazing! Even my husband liked it! I suubed kale for Swiss Chard since we like that better, and added black pepper and red pepper flakes because we like it spicy.


Wow! That was a pretty insulting comment! Hopefully no one is judging you by your weight. I'm sure it would be pretty hurtful. Especially if you had some health issue or it was just the shape you were made into. Not cool.

mrs pierce

made this meal two days and everyone who tasted liked it. it will be made again!!


The WFPB community is not about shaming others, including body shaming. It's not up to you, Rachel, to publicly name whether someone is at a healthy weight. I imagine your comment was probably highly damaging to the author of the recipe. We are all on this journey, trying to do the best we can and nourish our bodies in a culture that makes that very difficult. I hope you will retract your comment.


That was such a mean, unkind comment! As vegans, we're supposed to be kinder and that should extend to people, not just animals. There are plenty of sites where you can get your calorie count, if that's what you're looking for, or you can calculate it for yourself using one of the many tools available to you. You can ask nicely, and if the owners of this FREE site decide to make changes, great! If not, you can always unsubscribe if you don't get what you need. Not sure what the intent of that comment was, but that attitude will never win you any fans...


Rachel-How do you know by looking at a profile picture that a person would not reflect a healthy weight? That was not a nice comment to make!!

Rebecca Sullivan

I like the concept, but this is not very flavorful. I think I'd add more seasonings and some smoke to the bbq beans next time. The cornbread was bland too. Maybe partially because it has no fat in it. I might try adding some cashew butter to it... Maybe some jalapenos.


When you are eating a variety of plant based meals. You do not have to have nutritional information on the meals you eat. You are eating enough of the right nutrients.


I am anxious to try this recipe. It sounds very good. My question is about the pure cane sugar. Is that the sugar that we have always used or something different? I buy raw sugar thinking that might be better than the regular pure cane sugar that we have always used. Please clarify which sugar is best for WFPB eating.

Jennifer Moffitt

Used kale instead of swiss chard & left out the celery because that's what I had/didn't have on hand. We thought this was delicious & a really good cozy meal. Took little time to throw together. I reheated the next day in the microwave & found the biscuit topping not nearly as good (no surprise). It's worth the time if you are able to reheat the oven for your leftovers. This is a winner!


This was delicious! Enjoyed by both me and my toddler who ate EVERY bite! I didn’t have chard but used collard greens and still yummy!

Gay Gibson

A great and tasty recipe thank you. Keep up the good work as you’ll never please everyone!

Robyn Laing

I have made corn bread for this dish and didn’t see any need to add the sugar as corn is naturally sweet and apple sauce is sweet as well. It tastes pretty good too me.


I really need the sodium content in recipes. I have chronic kidney disease which is not reversible, and must not consume too much sodium. Only acute kidney disease can be reversed!

Alicia Mullins

I want to offer some hope. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 CKD. My kidneys are now functioning normally. I’m happy to share screenshots of my labs. You can reverse it with diet.


Use an app like My Fitness Pal! Add this recipe by copying the link and pasting into the app. It will transfer the recipe to your foods and calculate everything per serving for you. It’s pretty awesome.

Judith Caffrey

Thanks to Cathy below for suggestion to use My Fitness Pal to get nutritional values. I’m doin’ it.

Andrew T Morris

Looks very tasty


Sounds great! Can't wait to try.


Many people, including myself, would appreciate if you provided nutritional info. You get many requests for that, & your answers are dismissive. People who are investing their time & energy & efforts into eating healthier fare would be greatly helped if they were given the nutritional info along with your recipes. Please listen to the people instead of giving convoluted reasons why you don't give nutritional info.


Exactly. Saying “if you eat a whole foods plant based diet then you don’t need to worry about calories (carbs, fat………)” is not at all helpful. It is insulting. This has come up on multiple sites, not just FOK. Okay, I’m finished for the day.


I agree! I would like the nutritional information also. But I have heard this before if you eat plant based you don’t need the nutritional facts. But I still need to know.


Totally agree. I’m diabetic and try hard to stick to plant based but my A1C is not reflecting that. I need to know my carbs. Very frustrating.

Rosanne E Friedlander

Agree 100% nutrition info would be really helpful.


I have to agree with what Mary just posted a few seconds ago. I hopped on to eating WFPBNO in late Dec 2021. Prior to that I had lost a substantial amount of weight in 2018. I always logged my foods and I was about 70 to 80% WFPB. I would allow myself a fat free greek yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast with berries and lunch was always 100% compliant. My dinner was typciallyy baked fish or baked chicken or a turkey burger....with roasted veggiees and salads. I tried to make sure to get 10 to 12 servings of veggies per day and about 2 -3 servings of fruit. I lost the weight. However, I am and have been consuming a lot more carbs eating this way...I ate veggies and fruits that were less calorie dense and now this past year, i made compliant meals, I even entered the recipe into my app to get a idea of the calories, fat, carbs, salt, etcc... all this last year I was always over in my carbs...and I have gained a lot of weight back....GRRRRR so frustrating

Rosanne E Friedlander

Same issue, so many carbs. I try to balance with emphasis on veggies, smaller portion of the carbs. What app do you use?

Tiffany R.

If you have their Meal Planner it gives you the nutritional info. Or you can put the ingredients in a food app like Cronometer & it will give you the total nutritional info. I have to do that everyday to keep my eating in check.


I so understand about your weight issues. I've struggled my entire life. Dr. Michael Greger has an app called Daily Dozen which is WFPB. He recommends no salt or oil. It helped me.

Rose Morris

I would use maple syrup instead of pure cane sugar in this recipe.


Very good! We loved this recipe! We really do wish that FOKs would make the nutritional value available for each recipe. That would be so helpful!!!


Okay, I have to say this. I get so irritated when I see the response from whole food plant based people to this question. Most WFPB people are resistant to posting nutritional value and often make others feel like it’s absurd to want this information. Almost to the level of being arrogant. To those people I say this: Many who are new to this way of eating and have metabolic disorders need the nutritional value so they can ease into a new way of eating. You are asking them to make the food equivalent of jumping out a building without a net below. I don’t think they want detailed information, just the basics! Carb count, fat count, etc. If you want to include new people into the WFPB world then please do not dismiss their requests. Is it really so difficult to provide this information?

Greg Krakow

Most people who have been eating WFPB for many years begin to realize that scrutinizing the nutritional content of food is not necessary to be with the program. Read some WFPB books such as John Mc Dougall's "The Starch Solution" and T. Collin Campbell's "Whole" to get a sense of why these WFPB people are dismissive of scrutinizing nutrition in food. You really don't need to and the vast majority of people who keep this up soon start to see the futility and stop after a short while. When eating WFPB one easily gets the nutrition you need. One very simple way to get started is to follow Dr. Michael Greger's 12 foods to eat daily. Much simpler that scrutinizing every nutrient you consume.


We really love this recipe. I usually just put a pile of each vegi in and often use kale rather than Swiss chard. It's my wife's favorite recipe.

Christine Tovey

There are lots of apps for that -just put “nutrition calculator” in an app search. It’s not difficult

Theresa Kurtinaitis

Made this according to directions, after adding corn meal mixture baked uncovered. Result was a DELICIOUS meal. Exceptional balance of flavors and textures. Served with Trader Joes Corn Salsa. Would not change a thing. Thank you for this great recipe, will be adding it to my favorites.


Thank you for mentioning UNCOVERED. I came here hoping someone clarified!! :)


Loved it and will be making again

Hope Bretana

Fabulous recipe sweet and savory. Yum!


Delicious & my toddler loved it! However #4 should state to bake uncovered once the cornbread topping is added, I should've read the comments prior. Otherwise great flavor! I made this today; used garlic powder because I forgot to saute the minced garlic, unsweetened coconut milk as that was all I had on hand, gluten free flour, stevia & bok choy/spinach mix as I couldn't find any swiss chard. Thank you!


Is nutritional info available for this recipe? It's delicious.


I didn’t enjoy this recipe that much because it was too sweet. It took a really long time to prepare too. I’ll take the sugar out of the corn meal next time.

Hope Bretana

This recipe was fantastic. Sweet and savory. So good. I will definitely make this again. Thank you!


Can millet be substituted for corn meal?


Fabulous recipe. Thanks!! I made this last night, just happened to have all ingredients. Just needed to alter recipe slightly. I omitted the salt completely. Added more unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Once corn bread was added I baked without the cover. Turned out great.

Nicola Clark

How is this healthy if you are adding salt and sugar? I thought FOK was all about no SOS


Use substitutes and see how that works for you.


Just need too alter recipe slightly. I omitted the salt completely. Added more unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Turned out great.


Do you really think 1/8 tsp salt in the whole recipe is going to hurt you? Unless you are going to eat the whole recipe yourself, I don't think 1 tablespoon of sugar is going to hurt you either.


You can use pure cane sugar if it’s vegan. Regular sugar uses bone char to make the granules fine so it then contains an animal product. Even vegan recipes will call for organic cane sugar.


Most of the sodium from this recipe will come from the canned beans and tomato sauce. You can shave that down a bit by rinsing the beans and using a low-sodium tomato sauce.

Amber McAlister

This looks So good! I want to try it but does anyone know if when you add the scoops of corm meal and cook for another 20 minutes, do I put the lid back on for cooking the last 20 minutes with the corn meal? Ordinarily when we bake, we bake with no top/lid so this is why I am checking. I am concerned if the cornbread will be damp or too moist with the top on. Thanks to anyone who knows!

Julia D Bates

use monk fruit instead if you are having an issue with cane sugar.


I made this last night, happened top have all ingredients. Once corn bread was added I baked without the cover. Turned out fabulous.

Katie J

Hi, I just made this and it was really good. I baked the cornmeal uncovered and it was Perfect and crisp on the outside and soft inside.

cindy page

I love your recipes. took the course. it was great

About the Author

Headshot of Carla Christian, RD, LD

About the Author

Carla Christian, RD, LD

Carla Christian received her associate’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 and her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 2009. She finished her dietetic internship from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2010 and is a former chef in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn. Photo by Jason Donnelly.

See More from this Author

Join our mailing list

Get free recipes and the latest info on living a happy, healthy plant-based lifestyle.

By providing your email address, you consent to receive newsletter emails from Forks Over Knives. We value your privacy and will keep your email address safe. You may unsubscribe from our emails at any time.