Cowboy Beans Recipe

Cowboy Beans

The Spruce

Ratings (66)
  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1063 Calories
21g Fat
151g Carbs
71g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These gussied-up beans, known as cowboy beans, are perfect for a big cookout, tailgating, or an everyday family meal.

Lean ground beef makes this a hearty meal on its own, or you might want to serve this along with your barbecue.

The dish is made with four different kinds of beans, along with bacon, ground beef, and a number of sauces and flavorings. Your family and friends will love them.

You could vary the beans in this dish. Black beans could replace the butter beans or kidney beans, or use great northern beans, navy beans, or chili beans in the recipe.


  • 1/2 pound bacon (diced)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 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 salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 (16-ounce) can pork and beans
  • 1 (16-ounce) can butter beans (drained)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans (drained​)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cowboy bean recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Preparing the Beans

  1. Put the diced bacon in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.

  2. Cook, stirring, until the bacon is crisp.

  3. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and reserve.

  4. Remove the excess bacon drippings.

  5. In the same skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned, breaking up and stirring as it cooks. Add the chopped onion and cook until tender. Drain off excess fat.

  6. Add the ketchup, barbecue sauce, white and brown sugars, the molasses, chili powder, salt, pepper, and mustard. Add pork and beans, butter beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, and stir to blend ingredients.

Oven Cooking Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas 4.

  2. If the Dutch oven isn't ovenproof, transfer the bean mixture to a casserole or baking dish and sprinkle the bacon over the top.

  3. Bake in the heated oven for 1 hour.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. Transfer the bean mixture to the crockery insert of a slow cooker. 

  2. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour, then reduce heat to LOW and cook for 2 to 4 hours longer.

Tips and 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.

  • Finish the beans with a topping of about 1 cup of shredded cheese. Continue baking or slow cooking for a few minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Or, top each serving with 1 or 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.