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If you’re looking for a delicious, hearty side dish that the whole family will love, cowboy beans are the answer! A variety of beans are simmered together with applewood smoked bacon, garlic, chopped onions, and ground beef, all in a tangy barbecue sauce!

Cowboy beans are so flavorful and hearty. They’re perfect for potlucks and barbecues once summer rolls around! A few more similar recipes to try are these tried and true baked beans, bean stew, and my insanely good crockpot chili!

Hero image of cowboy beans in a blue and white pot. A white serving spoon is scooping some up.

Cowboy Beans Recipe

If you haven’t tried cowboy beans before, you’re in for a treat. This hearty side is like an elevated version of baked beans. It’s made with both kidney and cannellini beans for the perfect texture, and then loaded with applewood bacon, diced onion, garlic, ground beef, and pork. Combined with the thick, flavorful sauce, these cowboy beans are a knockout side. Your friends and family will go crazy over them!

I need to just take a minute to talk about this sauce, though. It is to die for! I used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce as a base, but then jazzed it up with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar for the perfect tangy flavor. You’re going to want to lick your bowl clean. Try these cowboy beans out for your next family get-together! I promise they won’t disappoint.

What Are Cowboy Beans Made Of?

The combination of all of these ingredients is divine. What really makes cowboy beans stand out is the savory, tangy flavor that it has, plus it’s filled with ground beef and bacon. You can’t go wrong with bacon! See the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Bacon: I used thick-cut applewood bacon. It just has the best flavor! It’s perfect for adding to a hearty side dish like cowboy beans.
  • Diced Onion: I used a yellow onion here. Yellow onions are sharp but mild, perfect for adding to savory side dishes.
  • Minced Garlic: Use fresh garlic if you can! It will give your cowboy beans the best flavor.
  • Ground Beef: I used lean ground beef. You can also swap this out for ground pork or even ground turkey if you want a leaner version of this dish.
  • Seasonings: I used a mix of chili powder and salt and pepper to add a little heat and boost the flavor of the beans.
  • Canned Pork and Beans: We usually have a lot of these in the pantry. This cowboy beans recipe is great for using them up!
  • Beans: For the best texture, I use both canned cannellini beans and kidney beans here.
  • Barbecue Sauce: I used Sweet Baby Ray’s. You can also make some from scratch to customize the flavor! Find my full recipe here.
  • Additional Sauces: What really makes these cowboy beans delicious (in my opinion) is the flavorful sauce! It’s the perfect blend of savory and tangy. In addition to barbecue sauce, I added ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar.

Let’s Get Cooking!

I love cowboy beans because it’s such an easy side to make. Once you’ve cooked up your bacon, all you have to do is combine all of your ingredients and throw them in the oven for 45 minutes! Because it’s so hands-off, you can take that time to make some tasty homemade cornbread to complete the meal!

  1. Preheat Oven, Cook Bacon: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  2. Cook Diced Onion: Leave some bacon grease in the bottom and add the onion. Cook until almost tender.
  3. Cook Ground Beef: Add in the garlic and ground beef. Cook and crumble ground beef until no longer pink. Drain excess grease.
  4. Add Remaining Ingredients: Add in cooked bacon, chili powder, salt, pepper, pork and beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and stir just until incorporated.
  5. Bake and Serve: Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Can I Make Cowboy Beans in the Slow Cooker?

Yes! It’s so easy! You’re going to love having these cowboy baked beans to come home to. Simply cook your bacon, ground beef, and diced onion, then add to a crock pot with the other ingredients and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5.

4-photo collage of all ingredients being added to a pot.

More Mix-Ins

Cowboy beans are the perfect side dish for any season. They’re warm, hearty and comforting in the winter, but also great for summer cookouts! Here are a few extra flavor additions to customize your beans with.

  • Add in Beans: The more kinds of beans, the merrier! Feel free to add in white beans, black beans, pinto beans, or garbanzo beans. They add such a great texture!
  • Make it Sweeter: Cowboy beans are absolutely delicious with a little sweetness. Feel free to add in brown sugar, honey, or molasses to taste!
  • Add Smoky Flavor: If you want your cowboy beans to have smoky flavor, try adding in a tablespoon of liquid smoke!
Closeup of cowboy beans being scooped with a large serving spoon.

Storing Leftover Cowboy Beans

Cowboy beans are great for leftovers. They make the perfect quick and easy lunch to heat up in the microwave!

  • In the Refrigerator: Store cowboy beans in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • In the Freezer: Store in an airtight freezer bag for 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Top-down view of baked beans in a black serving bowl.

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Cowboy Beans

5 from 6 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
If you’re looking for a delicious, hearty side dish that the whole family will love, cowboy beans are the answer! A variety of beans are simmered together with applewood smoked bacon, garlic, chopped onions, and ground beef, all in a tangy barbecue sauce!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  • Leave some bacon grease in the bottom and add the onion. Cook until almost tender.
  • Add in the garlic and ground beef and cook and crumble ground beef until no longer pink. Drain excess grease.
  • Add in cooked bacon, chili powder, salt, pepper, pork and beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and stir just until incorporated.
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 822kcalCarbohydrates: 91gProtein: 46gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 3179mgPotassium: 1616mgFiber: 15gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 939IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 193mgIron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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Recipe Rating




25 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Holy cow – these are good! But the recipe makes way more than 4 servings. I mean, after all, 5 cans of beans and a pound of hamburger, etc will feed a large group and then some. Luckily it freezes well.

  2. 5 stars
    Used this as my main dish and it was delicious can’t wait to make again but am I able to freeze leftovers? Made a good amount so I have plenty of leftovers.

    1. Yes! Just add all of the ingredients to your crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook it on high for 6 instead.

  3. I opted for pintos in lieu of baked beans to cut the sugar a little and it still came out absolutely delicious – a yummy savory-sweet comfort side. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. We made this according to the recipe and found it was overwhelming sweet. Next time I make I think I’ll leave out the brown sugar and the ketchup.

    1. 5 stars
      Ty for ur comment bc I have not made cowboy beans before an my hubby dislikes sweet in his meats or veggies so I’ll probably use ur idea an omit the brown sugar an ketchup. Ty

  5. 5 stars
    This was an incredible version of Cowboy Beans! I received compliments from all who had them, which most came back for seconds! I did add a little extra bacon, but other than that, I followed the recipe.

  6. Hello, I live in the UK and have never heard of a can of pork and beans. Is it those small pork sausages with beans or something different? Is there anything similar you know of I could use? Thanks