Calico Beans are a hearty side dish that your family will love. They’re made with all the good stuff: beef, bacon, and a variety of beans. And they are super easy to make!
If you like baked beans, this is the perfect recipe. Calico Beans are a mixture of three beans (butter beans, kidney beans, and pork & beans), plus ground beef and bacon in a sweet and tangy sauce.
What are calico beans?
The word calico typically refers to a multicolored or mottled cat. Calico beans are baked beans made with a variety of multicolored beans.
For this recipe, we’re using butter beans, kidney beans, and pork & beans. The different sizes and colors creates a beautiful finished dish with a “calico” color.
- Ground beef and bacon make these beans extra hearty. I used 85% lean ground beef.
- A mixture of kidney beans, butter beans, and pork & beans (which are made with navy beans) vary in color and size, which makes the beans even more visually appealing (and delicious!).
- The sauce is made with ketchup, brown sugar, white sugar, and vinegar. It’s sweet and a little tangy!
- A yellow onion adds a nice savory flavor. You can use a white onion if you prefer.
How to make calico beans
Rinse and drain the kidney beans and butter beans, but leave the liquid in the can of pork & beans (we’ll add it to the dish later).
Place the beef, bacon, and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the beef is cooked through and the bacon is partially cooked.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into an oven-safe dish. I used a 13×9 inch dish which had plenty of room for everything. Bake the beans for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven until the mixture is bubbly.
Can I make baked beans in a slow cooker?
To make beans in a slow cooker, brown the beef, bacon, and onion according to the recipe. Add the mixture to a slow cooker, along with the remaining ingredients. Cook the beans for 1.5–2 hours on high, or 3–4 hours on low, or until the mixture is bubbly.
Can I use a different type of beans?
Navy beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, butter beans, great northern beans, and black beans are all delicious in baked beans. Use whatever mixture of beans that you prefer. I like to vary the types of beans (three cans, each of a different variety) so that the finished dish is visually appealing.
How do I reheat baked beans?
To reheat baked beans, place them in an oven-safe casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 20–25 minutes at 350°F, or until the beans are warmed throughout.
Freezing baked beans
To freeze baked beans, allow the dish to cool after cooking. Transfer the beans to a freezer-safe container and place a lid on top. Alternatively, you can wrap a freezer-safe dish with plastic wrap and them foil.
Freeze for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve them, defrost the beans in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30–40 minutes, or until heated through.
What to serve with calico beans
This recipe serves 8–10 people as a side dish. I love serving calico beans with grilled food, such as burgers, brats, steaks, and kabobs. The beans would also be really delicious on top of a plain baked potato!
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ lb uncooked bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can pork and beans
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place the ground beef, bacon, and onion in a large skillet. Cook until the meat is cooked through and the bacon is beginning to crisp, about 8–10 minutes. Break up the ground beef with the end of a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a 13x9 inch baking dish (or another 3 quart baking dish). Cover the dish with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately.