Cowboy Beans With Ground Beef

Cowboy Beans With Ground Beef

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 10 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
594 Calories
18g Fat
69g Carbs
41g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 594
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 79mg 26%
Sodium 1396mg 61%
Total Carbohydrate 69g 25%
Dietary Fiber 13g 46%
Total Sugars 30g
Protein 41g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 6mg 36%
Potassium 1295mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cowboy beans is a hearty Southwestern dish consisting of beans and ground beef in a sweet and tangy sauce. This recipe is made with four different kinds of beans, along with bacon, ground beef, bottled barbecue sauce, and plenty of flavoring, making the dish even more complex and filling. Cowboy beans are perfect alongside barbecue at a cookout, when tailgating, or as the main dish for an everyday family meal.

These cowboy beans cook in the oven, saving you stovetop space for other cookout side dishes. Finish them off with some shredded cheddar cheese, if you like, and serve with cornbread or crusty rolls and a green salad or roasted Brussels sprouts.


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“Cowboy Beans with Ground Beef is a hearty, savory, one pot meal that’s sure to satisfy. The combination of beans of different sizes and textures, along with lean ground beef gives the dish its hearty structure. Sauces, sweeteners and spices give the dish an irresistible tangy flavor.“ —Joan Velush

Cowboy Beans with Ground Beef/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion

  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 1 tablespoon ​​chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons mustard

  • 1 (16-ounce) can baked beans

  • 1 (16-ounce) can butter beans, drained

  • 1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained

  • 1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained​

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cowboy Beans With Ground Beef ingredients

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Put the diced bacon in a large Dutch oven or other oven-proof, heavy-duty pot over medium heat.

    bacon in a skillet

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp.

    bacon cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

    bacon pieces on a paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Pour off the bacon drippings.

    Pour off the bacon drippings

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. In the same pot over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it is browned, breaking it up and stirring as it cooks. Add the onion and cook until tender. Drain off any excess fat.

    beef and onions cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  7. Add the ketchup, barbecue sauce, granulated and brown sugars, molasses, chili powder, salt, pepper, and mustard. Add all the beans and stir to combine.

    Add the ketchup, barbecue sauce, white and brown sugars, molasses, chili powder, salt, pepper, and mustard to the beef mixture

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  8. Sprinkle the bacon over the top of the bean-beef mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake, covered, until warmed through, about 45 minutes.

    beef and bean mixture in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  9. Top the bean mixture with the shredded cheese, if using. Return the beans to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

    Cowboy Beans With Ground Beef

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the ground beef with sliced smoked sausage or hot dogs.
  • Sauté about 1/2 cup of chopped green or multicolored bell peppers along with the ground beef and onions.
  • Feel free to vary the beans in this dish. Black beans could replace the butter beans or kidney beans, or use Great Northern beans or navy beans.

How to Store and Freeze Cowboy Beans

Cowboy beans, like most chili dishes, taste better the longer they sit. They'll be good for up to three to four days in the fridge. If you'd like to freeze them, you can. It's often a good idea to freeze chili in containers that are sized appropriately for your crew, so you don't have to guess when you're defrosting.

Cowboy beans can be defrosted in the microwave and reheated that way, or on the stovetop over medium-low heat until heated through.