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Calico Beans: a delicious slow cooker recipe

Total time: 4H20
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
Ground beef
1 pound
bacon, diced
1/2 pound
yellow onion, chopped
pork and beans, drained
2 16-ounce cans
butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can
kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can
Brown sugar
3/4 cup
3/4 cup
White vinegar
2 tsp
Yellow Mustard
1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste

Hearty, wholesome, and comforting, calico beans are an amazing dish you can enjoy as a main meal or side. This easy slow cooker recipe gets its name from the many beans which go into it and it makes a great-tasting side dish you can serve at barbecues and potlucks. It also doubles as a wonderful, mouthwatering savory, slightly tangy, and sweet dinner that even picky eaters will love. If you don't have a slow cooker, don't worry. You can make calico beans on the stovetop or in the oven. It's sure to become a quick favorite in your household!

What are Calico Beans?

Calico beans (aka cowboy beans) are a scrumptious one-pot dish that gets its name from the various beans that go into it. Beef and bacon add plenty of flavor to this hearty meal, while ketchup, sugar (or molasses), vinegar, and mustard bring extra nuance.

How to make Calico Beans

Making calico beans is easier than you may think and you can cook this recipe in many different ways. First saute the beef and bacon in a skillet, drain excess fat and pour it into a baking dish. Next, if you want to use your slow cooker, add in onion, beans, sugar, ketchup, vinegar and mustard, cover with a lid and set it to high for 4 hours.

If you don't have a slow cooker, you can cook the mixture in your oven for up 1 hour at 350°F. Otherwise, simmer all ingredients on the stovetop for 20 minutes, and remember to stir occasionally.


Tips for Making the Best Calico Beans

– For a smokier flavor, substitute pancetta for bacon or add a dash of liquid smoke.

– Use lean ground beef in this recipe.

– Don't have any ketchup? You can add in barbecue sauce instead.

– For the best tasting calico beans, used canned beans instead of dried ones.

– To make a meat-free vegetarian version of calico beans, simply leave out the beef and bacon or use a vegetarian meat substitute in their place.

What to Serve with Calico Beans

Enjoy calico beans as a main meal or serve it up as a side dish. As a side, this recipe is amazing with barbecue and grilled meats. Try it with burgers, ribs, or grilled sausages, and be sure to have some dinner rolls out – calico beans are so tasty you'll want to mop up your bowl.

How to Store Calico Beans

Place leftover calico beans in an airtight container in the fridge. They'll last for 3 to 4 days. In the freezer, calico beans stay good for about 1 month.


Saute the beef and bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Drain off excess fat, then pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Add onion, beans, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and mustard. Stir to combine, place the lid on the slow cooker, and set it to high. Cook for 4 hours.


You can use any kind of beans for calico beans. Lima beans, pinto beans, cannellini, and black beans are all great in this recipe.

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