Baked beans get an upgrade with these Easy Baked Calico Beans with Beef and Bacon. They’re dressed in a sweet and tangy sauce, and oven baked to perfection.
If you like baked beans, this is the perfect recipe.
Easy Baked 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.
They’re the perfect side dish for a cookout, which is probably why they’re also called Cowboy Beans. And they pair nicely with Grilled Brats, burgers, Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes, or Slow Cooker Beef BBQ.
They’re also great in the fall for a football watching party or a tailgate.
And, you can make them ahead of time and warm them when you’re ready to serve. See below for more instructions on making them ahead, and how to make Calico Beans in a crockpot, too.
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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.
They’re also known as Cowboy Beans or Trucker Beans.
- 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 easy baked 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 bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until crisp.
Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Pour the grease into a heat-safe bowl and save for another use (like scrambled eggs!).
Add the beef and onion to the skillet. Cook until the beef is cooked through and the onion is soft.
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.
The baked calico beans are ready to serve!
How to make calico beans in a crockpot
To make calico beans in a crockpot, brown the beef, bacon, and onion according to the recipe. Add the mixture to a slow cooker, along with the remaining ingredients.
Cook the calico beans in the crockpot for 1.5–2 hours on high or 3–4 hours on low, or until bubbly and warm.
Serve immediately, or reduce the heat to “warm” until you’re ready to serve them. You can serve the calico beans straight from the crockpot if you’re planning a buffet.
Easy Baked Calico Beans: Frequently Asked Questions
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.
To use dried beans for this recipe, cook the dried beans according to package directions. Substitute 1.5 cups of cooked beans for each 15-ounce can of beans.
You’ll need one-half cup of dried beans to equal 1.5 cups of cooked 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 for at least 24 hours, or until defrosted. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30–40 minutes, or until heated through.
To reheat baked calico beans from the refrigerator, 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.
What to serve with baked calico beans
This recipe serves 8–10 people as a side dish. I love serving baked 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!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Easy Baked Calico Beans
- 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 bacon in a large skillet. Cook until crisp. Set aside. Pour the bacon grease into a small dish and reserve for another use.
- Place the ground beef and onion in the skillet. Cook until the beef is cooked through and the onion is soft, about 6–8 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 13×9 inch baking dish (or another 3 quart baking dish). Cover the dish with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately.