Cowboy beans are a whole meal in themselves! Ground beef and a mixture of hearty beans are baked in an easy tomato bbq sauce with bacon.
Both sweet and savory, these beans are absolutely delish
What are Cowboy Baked Beans?
These beans are hearty and delicious. Cowboy beans are filled with bacon, beans, beef, onions, and a handful of seasonings.
The sauce is a tangy mix of ketchup, bbq sauce, brown sugar, and cider vinegar.
Whether oven-baked or slow-cooked in a crockpot, everyone will be asking for this easy recipe! We love to serve them with tortillas or cornbread. Easy corn fritters taste great alongside, too! Add a tangy classic macaroni salad and a pitcher of homemade lemonade to finish off a terrific meal.
Ingredients and Variations
We use a combination of kidney beans, pinto, and great northern beans. We also add an entire can of pork and beans! Feel free to add black beans, split peas, or even garbanzo beans for a boost of nutrition and texture!
For this recipe, we like to use ground beef and bacon, but leftover steak, cubes of ham, or even slices of Polish sausage can be tossed in! It’s thick enough to be a stew!
Experiment by adding bell peppers, diced tomatoes, or jalapenos for a real cowboy kick!
Cowboy Beans vs. Baked Beans
These beans are different than a traditional baked beans recipe.
- This recipe has ground beef added for a heartier dish.
- It has a sauce but they’re much less “saucy” than traditional baked beans.
- The sauce has a bit more of a BBQ type flavor.
How to Make Cowboy Baked Beans
Cowboy baked beans are a hearty meal but that doesn’t mean they are hard to make! It’s simple!
- Cook half of the bacon until crisp. Cool and crumble.
- Cook beef and onion in some bacon grease.
- Combine everything in a casserole dish and top with uncooked bacon.
- Bake uncovered according to the recipe below.
For Crock Pots or Slow Cookers
- Cook bacon in a pan on medium heat.
- Remove all but 1 Tbsp. of bacon grease. Cook onion and beef until no longer pink.
- Combine all ingredients into the Crockpot.
- Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours. Top with crumbled bacon and serve.
To refrigerate: keep tightly covered in the refrigerator 3-4 days.
To reheat: just give them a stir, pop them in the microwave and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
To freeze: ladle chilled beans into a zippered bag with the date on it. Lay flat in the freezer. When frozen, bags can be stacked vertically to save space. Frozen cowboy baked beans will keep their flavor for at least 3 months.
Perfect Potluck Casseroles
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole – so creamy & cheesy
- Funeral Potatoes – 5 star recipe
- Baked Jalapeño Mac & Cheese – ready in 40 minutes
- Cheesy Broccoli Casserole – a crowd favorite
- Sweet Potato Casserole – perfect for the holidays
Did you make these Cowboy Beans? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
- 1 pound bacon divided
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 cans kidney beans 16 ounces each, drained and rinsed
- 1 can pinto beans 16 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 1 can great northern beans 16 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans pork and beans 16 ounces
- 1 ⅓ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup barbecue sauce plus 2 tablespoons for topping
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each salt & pepper or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Set half of the uncooked bacon aside for topping. Cook the remaining half of the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all fat except 1 tablespoon. Crumble bacon.
- Add ground beef and onion to the same pan and cook over medium heat until no pink remains, drain any fat.
- Combine all ingredients in a 9x13 pan and mix well. Top with remaining uncooked bacon and brush bacon with remaining bbq sauce.
- Bake uncovered 45-50 minutes or until bacon is crisp.
Slow Cooker Directions
- Prepare recipe as above except cook all bacon until crisp. Set half of the crisp bacon aside for topping.
- Combine all remaining ingredients and place in a 6qt slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high 2-3 hours or on low 4-5 hours.
- Top with reserved bacon before serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Hi Holly. I was wondering, is this recipe better in the slow cooker or in the oven in your opinion? I cannot wait to make it. It looks so delicious!
Both are great options Brenda! I make either depending on how much time I have. Enjoy!
How many ounces to a serving? The recipe just says six servings.
Each serving is 1.5-2 cups Heath. Enjoy!
This is a winner every time! Super easy and a crowd pleaser. I skip the chill powder if I’m feeding alot of elderly or small children. Still fantastic!
This will be a blast from the past. My mom made this often when we were kids.
Hello. I want to make these because they look sooo good! For the 2 cans of pork & beans 16 ounces. Is that 16 ounces per can or 16 ounces total. Also, If I wanted to use dry beans & soak for the other beans, how many ounces of dried beans might one use please? Thank you.
16 ounces per can Tanya. Enjoy the beans!
Our family has made these for years at least 20 yrs. I can’t remember how the recipe came about in the family but they are a must have for any gathering we have. We know it as Bean Bake, but I like the name Cowboy beans better.
Just an FYI for people. The recipe makes a lot so if you a a smaller family, It freezes well. I mix them all up then take out what I need and before they are cooked I package them up in our serving size and freeze. Then when we want them just take that container out and bake them. Come out great.
Summer cooks outs are around the corner I better stock up on beans.
Thanks for sharing that’s great advice!
Thank you for this recipe. I love it and so does everyone I’ve ever made it for. I can add all the beans I want to because I love beans.
You’re very welcome Paul! You sure can, especially when you’re the chef!
These are excellent baked beans. I made this in the crockpot and the only modification I made was to only add 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder as my family is wimpy on spice. The sauce is outstanding and the addition of the hamburger to the recipe moves this dish to the best beans I have eaten.
Thanks for the great recipe!
You’re welcome Linda! They are very versatile!
I’ve been making this for years but I only use one can of kidney beans and one can of French-style green beans. It is delicious!
So much Yum!
Made these for a Church Potluck -they were a HUGE hit! So yummy! Lots of compliments and requests for the recipe.
Looks delicious, I can’t wait to get started!
Enjoy Aaron, let us know how it turns out for you!
Thank you Irene, I hope you love it!
Do you drain the kidney beans, pinto beans and great northern beans; the recipe doesn’t say.
Yes, the beans are drained. I’ve updated the recipe.