Slow-Cooker Cowboy Stew With Beef and Beans

Cowboy stew
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  • Total: 5 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 hrs
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
981 Calories
29g Fat
93g Carbs
88g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 981
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 38%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 193mg 64%
Sodium 412mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 93g 34%
Dietary Fiber 24g 86%
Protein 88g
Calcium 246mg 19%
*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.)

The name of this beef and bean stew makes it all the more appealing to kids. Who wouldn't want to sit down to a big bowl of "cowboy" stew? It's an excellent lunch or a quick and easy supper with cornbread muffins or crusty rolls.

The slow cooker makes this especially easy, perfect for a busy day when you have a thousand other things to do. While it's not quite a "dump and go" slow-cooker meal, it requires just a few minutes of prep and dirties only one skillet.

This recipe is a cinch to adapt. Using the base of beef and beans, you can take it in more of a south-of-the-border direction by browning the ground beef with a packet of taco seasoning, up the spice ante by adding a chopped jalapeno when you sauté the onion, or even give it gaucho style with steak sauce and garlicky chimichurri.



  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground chuck
  • 1 can (15 ounces) prepared chili beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pork and beans
  • 1 can (12 to 15 ounces) cream-style corn
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • Optional: 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • Garnish: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped avocado

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.

  2. Add the onion and bell pepper, if desired. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.

  3. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring often and breaking up any large clumps of meat, until no pink remains. Drain well.

  4. Combine the beef mixture in the slow cooker with the beans, cream-style corn, and tomato sauce; cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours.

Recipe Variations

  • Add some mild green chili peppers instead of or in addition to the red or green bell peppers.
  • Replace the cream-style corn with whole kernel corn or a can of hominy, rinsed and drained. Add water or broth a tablespoon at a time if the stew seems too thick.
  • Substitute for prepared chili beans with 1/4 cup of broth, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, and one can of pinto beans, small red beans, navy beans, or great northern beans.
  • Swap the ground beef for diced steak and smoked sausage; skip the browning step and just throw everything into the slow cooker.
  • Add 2 slices thick bacon, browned, drained, and chopped, to the slow cooker when you combine all of the ingredients. For even more flavor, sauté the vegetables in the rendered bacon fat instead of oil.
  • Give it gaucho style by swapping up to 1/4 cup of your favorite steak sauce for an equal measure of tomato sauce, then topping each bowl with a dollop of garlicky chimichurri sauce before you serve.