Best Calico Baked Beans Recipe (Oven or Slow Cooker)

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The best calico baked beans recipe and a family favorite for over 20 years! This hearty dish combines ground beef, bacon, and a variety of beans in a rich, flavorful sauce. Perfect for family gatherings and potlucks.

Best calico bean casserole for family gatherings and cookouts.

I could not be more excited to finally, finally have this baked beans recipe on the blog! 

One of my favorite things about being a content creator in general, is sharing ideas & recipes that my family loves and that I think you might enjoy too. 

This calico bean casserole is one of those special recipes that has been a centerpiece at family cookouts and birthday celebrations at our house for over two decades (Wow, I feel really old now!).

It’s become one of my most requested side dishes because it combines the richness of bacon, hearty ground beef, and four different beans in a sweet and tangy sauce that’s simply irresistible.

The blend of flavors and textures creates a casserole that’s both comforting and satisfying, making it the perfect side dish to any meal.

Over the years, I’ve tweaked and perfected this original recipe, and I’m thrilled that it’s on the blog and that you’ll be able to enjoy this recipe with your family too. 

Whether you’re looking for a crowd pleaser for your next family gathering or simply want to try something new for dinner, this calico beans recipe is sure to become a favorite in your home as well. 

Let’s get cooking!

Cowboy beans made with canned beans, ground beef, and bacon.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • Whether you prefer using a Dutch oven or a crock pot, this easy recipe adapts to both. You can enjoy the deep, even heat distribution of a Dutch oven or the convenience of a slow cooker for a hands off approach.
  • This dish is a superstar at cookouts, BBQs, potlucks, outdoor picnics, and family dinners. It’s hearty and comforting making it an ideal side dish or even a main course that will please and feed a crowd.
  • With just a few tweaks, this recipe can be made vegetarian. Simply omit the ground beef and bacon, and use vegetarian baked beans. You’ll still get all the delicious flavors and textures that make this dish so special.
  • The sweet and tangy sauce coats each bean perfectly, creating a mouth watering flavor that’s both rich and satisfying.
  • This dish is packed with protein and fiber from four different kinds of beans. You’ll feel full and satisfied after indulging in this bean dish.
Best baked beans recipe for family reunions, pot lucks, cookouts, and family gatherings.
Jump to Recipe

Ingredients for Mom’s Calico Beans

Here are the simple ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe…

  • Ground Beef: Adds a hearty, meaty texture and rich flavor to the dish. I prefer to use 85/15 ground chuck because I find it to be more tender and more flavorful than a leaner ground sirloin.
  • Uncooked Chopped Bacon: A smoky, savory taste and a crispy texture. And let’s be honest, doesn’t everything taste better with bacon?!
  • Finely Diced Onion: For sweetness and depth of flavor.
  • Ketchup: Brings a tangy sweetness that forms the base of the sauce.
  • Brown Sugar: A rich, molasses-like sweetness to balance the tanginess.
  • White Sugar: Enhances the sweetness and helps to create a thick sauce.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a zesty tang that brightens the flavors.
  • Yellow Mustard: Contributes a subtle, sharp tang that complements the sweetness.
  • Black Pepper: Seasons the sauce.
  • Pork & Beans: Classic, tender texture and savory flavor.
  • Cannellini Beans (drained & rinsed): Creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor.
  • Pinto Beans (drained & rinsed): Soft texture and earthy taste.
  • Black Beans (drained & rinsed): Firm texture and robust, slightly sweet flavor.

Ingredient Note: Feel free to customize the beans in this recipe to your liking! While I prefer using pork & beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, and black beans for their varied textures and flavors, you can use whichever beans you prefer. Just a heads up though, I avoid using red kidney beans due to their harder shell, which can alter the texture of the dish. 

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list at the end of this blog post.

Easy Calico Bean Recipe

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large Dutch oven brown hamburger, chopped bacon, and diced onions together over medium heat. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Cook ground hamburger, bacon, and onions in a large dutch oven.

Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked ground beef, bacon, and onions from the Dutch oven. Set aside in a bowl, leaving the drippings in the pot.

Mom's calico beans recipe with cannellini beans, pinto beans, and navy beans.

Stir the ketchup, brown sugar, granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, and black pepper into the drippings. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Ketchup, white sugar, brown sugar, mustard, and apple cider vinegar to make the calico beans sauce.

Allow it to simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until it thickens slightly and all the sugars are dissolved.

A sweet & tangy sauce for a delicious bean dish that the whole family will love.

Add the cooked ground beef, bacon, and onions back into the Dutch oven. Then, stir in all the beans (canned baked beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, and black beans). Mix thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined and evenly coated with sauce.

Mix the meat, sauce, and different beans into a large dutch oven to make a delicious bean dish.

Handy Tip: Prepare Ahead!

Follow the recipe through combining all the ingredients in the sauce, then cover and refrigerate the mixture. When you’re ready to bake, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then bake as directed.

Place the lid on the Dutch oven and transfer it to your preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the mixture is heated through and bubbly.

Once done, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving, then enjoy!

A delicious casserole recipe with different canned beans for texture and flavor.

Tips & Tricks

  • When transferring the cooked meat and onions, make sure to use a slotted spoon to leave the drippings in the pot. These drippings are essential for creating a flavorful sauce.
  • Allow the sauce ingredients to simmer for a few minutes in the drippings. This helps to combine the flavors and thicken the sauce. You’ll know your sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Taste the sauce before combining it with the beans. If you prefer a sweeter dish, add a bit more brown sugar. For extra tanginess, increase the apple cider vinegar or mustard.
  • While you can use any beans you like, combining a variety of colorful beans will add color, texture, and flavor.
  • If using a slow cooker, brown the meat and onions on the stovetop first, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
  • This dish can be prepared ahead of time. The flavors meld together even more when it sits overnight. Just reheat it in the oven or slow cooker before serving.
Serving the best baked beans with a wooden spoon as a hearty side dish.

How can I make slow cooker calico beans?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the slow cooker to make this recipe and the end result is just as delicious as cooking it in the oven!

And, the great thing about using the crock pot to make calico beans is that you can set it and forget it. Allowing you to focus your attention on other dishes or guests at your gathering. 

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Here’s what you do…

After browning the ground beef, bacon, and onions on the stovetop, transfer the cooked meat and onions to your slow cooker. Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, sugar, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, black pepper, and all the beans until well combined. 

Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 4-6 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours, until the mixture is heated through and bubbly. 

Cowboy beans made with canned beans, ground beef, and bacon.

What is the best way to store leftover calico beans?

To store calico bean leftovers, allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. 

Place the container in the refrigerator, where the leftovers will keep for up to 4-5 days. 

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If you prefer to store the beans for a longer period, you can freeze them. Simply transfer the cooled beans to a freezer safe container or a heavy duty freezer bag, for up to 3 months. 

Keep in mind that freezing and thawing can slightly alter the texture of the beans. 

When you’re ready to enjoy them again, thaw the cowboy beans in the refrigerator overnight and reheat them on the stovetop or in the oven until warmed through.

Delicious hearty side dish full of beans, ground hamburger, and bacon.


Don’t let those delicious calico bean leftovers go to waste! One of my favorite ways to use up leftover beans is as a hearty topping for hot dogs. Kind of like a chili dog but a little sweeter. Just warm the beans and spoon them over grilled hot dogs for a flavorful twist on a classic. You can add a little shredded cheese too for a chili cheese dog…yum!

How can I make this calico beans recipe vegetarian?

To make this a vegetarian dish, simply omit the ground beef and bacon, and use vegetarian baked beans.

You could also add in extra vegetables, like bell peppers or mushrooms, for added flavor and texture.

Bowl of hearty baked beans that can be eaten as a side dish or as a main course.

FAQs: Calico Beans

Yes, feel free to customize the recipe with your favorite beans. While I prefer using pork & beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, and black beans, you can experiment with other varieties of canned beans. 

Absolutely! After browning the ground beef, bacon, and onions on the stovetop, transfer everything to your slow cooker. Stir in the sauce ingredients and beans, then cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.

It’s easy to adjust the serving size of this recipe to suit your needs. Whether you’re cooking for a small family dinner or a large gathering, you can scale the ingredients up or down. Halve the ingredients for a smaller batch or double them for a larger crowd. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time as needed to make sure everything is cooked through and flavors are well blended.

What to Serve With Calico Beans

Calico baked beans are a hearty dish that pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides, which is why I think it’s such a classic recipe for a cookout or pot luck

Mini pulled pork sandwiches make an excellent match, with their tender, smoky meat complementing the sweet and tangy beans. These bite-sized sandwiches add a fun but satisfying element to your meal, making it perfect for gatherings or casual dinners.

Another great option is corn muffins, which have a slightly sweet and crumbly texture. They are perfect for soaking up the rich sauce of the beans and add a comforting, homemade touch to the meal. 

To balance the heartiness of the beans, a fresh fruit salad is always a fantastic choice. The natural sweetness and juiciness of the fruit provide a refreshing contrast.

Best baked beans recipe for family reunions, pot lucks, cookouts, and family gatherings.

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Best baked beans recipe for family reunions, pot lucks, cookouts, and family gatherings.
5 from 2 votes

Calico Baked Beans

This family favorite calico beans recipe is full of flavors and textures, featuring ground beef, bacon, and a medley of four different beans, all bathed in a sweet & tangy sauce that will have you coming back for seconds.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour
Total Time:1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 lb Bacon chopped
  • 1/2 cup Onion finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsps Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 16 oz can Pork & Beans
  • 16 oz can Cannellini Beans drained & rinsed
  • 16 oz can Pinto Beans drained & rinsed
  • 16 oz can Black Beans drained & rinsed

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a dutch oven brown ground beef, bacon, and onions together in a skillet.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked ground beef, bacon, & onions and put off to the side.
  • Stir the ketchup, brown sugar, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and black pepper into the drippings. Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes to create a thick sauce.
  • Mix the ground beef, bacon, onions, and all the beans into the sauce and combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on the dutch oven and place in the oven for about 1 hour or until heated through and bubbly.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

    • I prefer to use 85/15 ground chuck because I find it to be more tender and more flavorful than a leaner ground sirloin, however feel free to use whatever ground hamburger you like.
    • When transferring the cooked meat and onions, make sure to use a slotted spoon to leave the drippings in the pot. These drippings are essential for creating a flavorful sauce.
    • Allow the sauce ingredients to simmer for a few minutes in the drippings. This helps to meld the flavors and thicken the sauce. You’ll know your sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
    • Taste the sauce before combining it with the beans. If you prefer a sweeter dish, add a bit more brown sugar. For extra tanginess, increase the apple cider vinegar or mustard.
    • While you can use any beans you like, combining a variety of colorful beans will add color, texture, and flavor. 
    • If using a slow cooker, brown the meat and onions on the stovetop first, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
    • This dish can be prepared ahead of time. The flavors meld together even more when it sits overnight. Just reheat it in the oven or slow cooker before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 694mg | Potassium: 798mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bacon, Beans, Calico Beans, Casserole, Ground Hamburger
Servings: 10
Calories: 430kcal

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Best baked beans with ground beef, bacon, and a variety of beans.
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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe! It is delicious and the perfect one pot meal for a weeknight dinner or to bring to a summer gathering!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is such a great side dish for summer cookouts, BBQ’s, or picnics. It pairs so well with grilled hamburger or hot dogs and everyone will love how hearty & filling these calico beans are! Yum!!!

5 from 2 votes

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