Cowboy Beans

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Cowboy Beans are a hearty side dish made with four types of beans, ground beef, bacon, sausage, and onions simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce.

Cowboy Beans in a baking dish

What Are Cowboy Beans?

This popular dish is most likely named from the days when pioneers traveled long distances needing a easy, flavorful and a filling meal. More than likely, the term “cowboy beans” originated from cowboys describing this hearty meal that was economical and also loved.

What You’ll Love These Cowboy Beans

  • Easy Recipe – Do not be intimidated with the long list of ingredients. There is only a 15-minute prep with amazing results. Make in the Crock pot or bake in the oven!
  • Simple Ingredients – I love that this recipe uses canned beans and other ingredients that I always have on hand.
  • Easy to alter to your preference – With the different variety of beans and meats, you can always leave one out of replace something without altering the flavor that much.
  • Family Favorite – Cowboy beans are always such a huge hit with everyone. Kids and adults love it.
Cowboy Beans in a bowl

Ingredients You’ll Need:

This cowboy beans recipe is made with simple ingredients like spices, 3 types of meat, and 4 types of beans slow-cooked to perfection with a yummy BBQ sauce.

  • Hamburger meat – You will need ground beef.
  • Bacon- Chopped and make sure to save the grease.
  • Smoked sausage link- Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Pork and beans- Do not need to drain these beans.
  • Other beans- You will need to drain Pinto, Kidney, and Great Northern Beans for the other 3 beans.
  • Onion – Diced and sauteed.
  • Ketchup – Adds a bit of sweetness to your recipe.
  • Brown sugar – This will add sweetness and richness to this recipe.
  • Molasses – This will add a mildly sweet taste.
  • Chili powder – Adds a slightly spicy flavor.
  • Salt and Pepper – This will bring out the flavors.
  • Mustard – Provides a slightly tangy flavor.
  • Shredded cheese – Added on top of the beans (optional).
Cowboy Beans ingredients

How To Make Crock Pot Cowboy Beans

  • Cook the ground beef and bacon in a skillet and add to the crock pot.
  • In the same skillet, sautee the onions. Place the onions and grease in the crockpot, along with the beans.
  • Mix the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, chili powder, salt, pepper, and mustard in a small bowl and pour into the slow cooker.
bacon, beans and other ingredients in the crock pot for cowboy beans
  • Seal the lid and cook for 4 to 6 hours on low or 2 to 4 hours on high.
  • Serve hot as we side dish or main meal.

How To Make Cowboy Beans in the Oven

  • Proceed with crockpot directions. Add the ingredients into a dutch oven or 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1 ½ hours. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions

We love to serve this as a side dish with recipes like homemade corn dogs, sloppy joes, BBQ beef sandwiches or BBQ chicken thighs.

This is the perfect recipe for cookouts and potlucks. Serve as a main dish with a side of biscuits of cornbread. A few other side dishes that compliment these cowboy beans are coleslaw, corn on the cobb, mac and cheese and macaroni salad.

Cowboy Beans in a baking dish

Tips and Variations

  • Storing – These beans stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container. You can freeze for up 3 months. Store the beans in a large zip-lock bag (or in an airtight container). When ready to use, take out of the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator. Cook in a pan on the stove until heated through.
  • Cutting the Bacon – I use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon into squares and this speeds up the process.
  • Ground Beef – Feel free to use 90% lean ground beef, this will cut down on some calories without losing any flavor. Ground turkey or ground chicken can also be used.
  • Beans – the variety of beans can be switched. Black beans or lima beans are a great option. Dry beans can also be used. Just prepare to add on additional time for prep.
  • Add ins – feel free to add in any veggies like chopped green bell peppers, carrots or any other veggies you prefer.

Baked Cowboy Beans

More Baked Bean Recipes

Cowboy Beans feature
5 from 2 votes

Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Beans are a hearty side dish made with four types of beans, ground beef, bacon, sausage, and onions simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce.
Servings: 6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • ½ pound bacon chopped save the grease
  • 1 pound smoked sausage links cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14.5 ounce can pork and beans do not drain
  • 1 14.5 ounce can pinto beans drained
  • 1 can 14.5 ounces kidney beans drained
  • 1 14.5 ounce can great northern beans drained
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheese


Crock Pot Directions

  • Cook hamburger until done in a skillet, remove, and place in the crockpot.
  • Cook the bacon thoroughly in the same pan, then remove and place it with the hamburger in the crockpot.  Add the sausage to the crockpot.
  • Add the onions to the bacon grease and cook till translucent. Add the onions and any bacon grease to the crockpot and stir.
  • Add all the cans of beans into the crock pot.
  • In a small bowl mix the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, chili powder, salt, pepper, and mustard together.  Pour over the meat mixture.
  • Place lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or high for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Top with grated cheese and serve with your favorite bread or salad.

Baking in the Oven

  • Prepare as listed above, but add your ingredients into a dutch oven or 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake 350 degrees for 1 – 1 ½ hours until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

Last Step:

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Serving: 6g | Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1112mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 410IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 2mg


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3 comments on “Cowboy Beans”

  1. 5 stars
    Really good, I put some additional ingredients that I put in mine. Thanks for the recipe. I lost mine, so now I have yours. I made scratched honey cornbread. Great combination.

  2. 5 stars
    OMGosh this was amazing. I had no idea it made so much so I ate a bowl with crackers the first night and over a bed of rice the next time. The rest spent time in freezer bags for future meals. Waiting until I can get all 3 long legged grandsons together at once to make again. And I WILL make again.