Calico Beans is a hearty dish made in a Crockpot with several cans of beans, bacon, ground beef, and brown sugar tomato sauce. It is very easy to put together dinner. This recipe doesn’t take a long time to prepare and you can keep this dish warm in a slow cooker.
Cowboy Calico Beans
It truly is a shame that beans get such a bad rap. Well-prepared bean dishes are nutritious, inexpensive, and, most of all, delicious. This Calico Beans recipe showcases a huge variety of beans in a sweet and tangy mild sauce that, when combined, delivers a one-of-a-kind taste. With the addition of bacon and ground beef, you can easily serve Calico Beans as a complete one-pot meal or pair it with your favorite starch for an even more satisfying supper.
The Beans Count!
Don’t even think about making this recipe using only two or three kinds of beans. It deserves much more variety than that! After all, its name comes from the mottled appearance of the calico cat. Although having different beans adds a wide range of colors and shapes to the dish, the diverse flavors and textures are most important.
This quick recipe uses canned beans to reduce prep time and to make it as easy as possible. Since fewer varieties of beans come in cans, your choices are more limited than using dried beans. Of course, you can always use any cooked beans you happen to have on hand as well.
There are four types of beans in the recipe, not including the beans used to make the baked beans and prepared three-bean salad. Depending on the brands of baked beans and three-bean salad you use, you may see a lot of overlap. Therefore, feel free to choose other varieties of beans if you prefer.
Meat Makes It a Meal
The ground beef and bacon turn this side dish into something that is hearty to serve as the main course. When selecting the meat for this recipe, look for something that brings a lot of flavor to the pot.
Buy thick-cut or, better yet, slab bacon and cut it into medium-sized chunks. Big pieces not only hold up to long and slow simmering but offer diners substantial bites of smoky goodness.
You don’t have to stick with ground beef. Pork, chicken, turkey, or wild game wouldn’t be out of place in this recipe. A particularly good substitution is Cajun-style bulk sausage meat for those who want an extra spicy kick.
Making This Calico Beans Recipe Range-Worthy
Calico beans are sometimes referred to as cowboy beans because they were a staple on long cattle drives. Since water was sometimes scarce on the plains, cooks started using leftover coffee to boil their beans. This waste-not-want-not approach not only solved the problem at hand but imparted a complex taste to the recipe.
You can recreate this flavor by using instant coffee. Add half the amount of instant coffee necessary to make one cup of coffee to the beans when they go into the crockpot. Stir to combine.
Tips for Making, Serving, and Storing Calico Beans
- Yes, you can freeze this recipe! Put leftover beans in a freezer-safe container. Make sure to leave a little extra room to allow for the food to expand when frozen. Don’t forget to label the container with the date. Beans should last for about three months.
- Reheat the beans in the oven. Let the beans thaw in the fridge overnight. Put thawed beans in an oven-safe container, cover with aluminum foil and reheat in a 250-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
- Don’t forget your favorite toppings and sides. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, chopped onions, pickled jalapeno slices, or sliced green onions. Serve with a piece of cornbread, collard greens, coleslaw, white rice, or corn on the cob.
Calico Beans Crockpot Recipe
A colorful medley of tasty beans is smothered in an easy, made-from-scratch BBQ-ish sauce and cooked to flavorful perfection in a crockpot.
I prefer to cook my beans in a crockpot, so they don’t burn. The texture seems to be better as well this way.
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Ground beef
- Canned baked beans
- Canned kidney beans
- Canned pinto beans
- Canned butter beans
- Canned navy beans
- Canned three bean salad
- Brown sugar
- White vinegar
- Dry mustard
How to Make Calico Beans
Calico beans don’t take much time to prep. They can also be made ahead of time and taste even better the next day. Pass me the hot sauce and a big plate of these beans!
- In a skillet over medium heat, sauté ground beef, chopped bacon, chopped onion, and minced garlic until the ground beef has browned. Drain if desired.
- Add all the beans to the crockpot.
- Add brown sugar, ketchup, honey, vinegar, and dry mustard to the crockpot. Stir well.
- Cook on low heat for 2 hours.
Recipe Tips and Variations
You can add Ranch Style Beans with jalapeno peppers for a nice kick of heat.
You can omit the ketchup and honey if desired.
You can substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef.
You can substitute chorizo for the ground beef. Just be sure to use fresh, raw chorizo (Mexican style).
If you’ve tried this slow cooker calico beans recipe, please rate it below in the comments and let me know how it went – I love hearing from you!
Hungry for more bean recipes? Give these a try!
- Baked Beans with Sausage
- BBQ Baked Beans Recipe
- How to Prepare Dried Black Beans
- Senate Bean Soup
- Restaurant Style Refried Beans
- Three Bean Salad
- Vegetarian Black Bean Soup
Favorite Crockpot Slow Cooker Recipes
- Crockpot Cheese Potatoes
- Crockpot Chicken Tacos
- Crockpot Queso
- Crockpot Sweet Potatoes
- Mexican Carne Guisada
- Slow Cooker Beef Tips
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound bacon sliced into small pieces
- 1 cup chopped
- 3 teaspoons garlic
- 14 ounces baked beans
- 14 ounces kidney beans
- 14 ounces pinto beans
- 14 ounces butter beans
- 14 ounces navy beans
- 14 ounces three bean salad use half the juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté ground beef, chopped bacon, chopped onion, and minced garlic until the ground beef has browned. Drain if desired.
Add all the beans to the crockpot.
Add brown sugar, ketchup, honey, vinegar, and dry mustard to the crockpot. Stir well.
Cook on low heat for 2 hours.
- You can add Ranch Style Beans with jalapeno peppers this will add a nice bit of heat to the recipe.
- You can omit the ketchup and honey if desire.
- Switch the ground beef for Italian sausage.