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Cowboy Baked Beans

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This Southwestern-inspired cowboy baked beans recipe is a must-try! You will feel just like a cowboy chowing down on this easy recipe made from a variety of beans and baked in a tangy BBQ sauce. Pinto beans, which are featured in this dish, were a common choice amongst cowboys. These protein-packed beans and ground beef have a unique combination of flavors. Top this all off with crispy bacon and enjoy.

I love to serve this recipe at barbeques as a hearty side dish or at a family gathering as a main dish. It is easy to prepare and is a family favorite in my home. These savory baked beans are such a comfort food, and they really hit the spot when you are craving a hearty recipe. This really is the best cowboy baked beans recipe to bring to your next party!

Why this recipe works

Here are a few reasons why this original recipe is worth a try.

  • Very simple to make
  • Super flavorful and filling
  • A super hearty recipe
  • It uses staple ingredients that you likely have in your pantry already
Cowboy baked beans fresh out of the oven with bacon on top.

Varieties of beans in this recipe

These legumes are great to have stored in your kitchen. Beans are packed with protein and fiber that make a nutritious addition to a myriad of meals. Just about any type of bean works well in this dish. Feel free to mix and match these ingredients to what fits your preference. The type of beans that I recommend adding to your shopping list for these cowboy baked beans are:

  • Butter beans – This type, also known as lima beans, are typically white or pale green. These low-calorie beans are full of antioxidants.
  • Navy beans – They are a bit milder in flavor than other types of beans. These beans contain a lot of fiber and will leave you full for hours on end.
  • Black beans – Black beans are often incorporated in many South American cuisines, especially when paired with rice. They are also a great source of fiber to help fill up your stomach.
  • Kidney beans – One of the sweeter varieties, kidney beans are super tasty and healthy. They are known as kidney beans because they resemble a human kidney in both shape and color. In this recipe, I use red kidney beans, also known as a common kidney bean.
  • Pinto beans – These popular beans have a slightly creamy consistency and nutty taste.
  • Red beans – these beans are lighter in color than red kidney beans.

Remaining ingredients

These cowboy baked beans are so delicious because of these amazing ingredients. I can assure you that they are well worth the grocery store trip if you don’t already have these staples in your pantry.  Along with your beans, you will need:

  • Bacon
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Barbecue sauce – try a tangy sauce like this Kansas City-style BBQ sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dry ground mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Six different bean varieties that are in cowboy baked beans.

Instructions

This recipe is quite simple and only requires a few easy steps.

Step 1: prepare

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish, or a large Dutch oven, with non-stick spray.

Step 2: cook bacon

Heat a deep, large skillet or stockpot over medium-high heat. Set half of the bacon aside for later. Add the other half of the bacon to the hot skillet and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside. Drain the fat from the skillet.

Step 3: brown ground beef

Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, breaking it up along the way. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until it is no longer pink.

Step 4: add the onion and garlic

Push the ground beef to the edges of the skillet and add the onion. Cook until transparent. Stir in the garlic and the cooked bacon.

Step 5: combine the rest of the ingredients

Open the cans of beans and drain them of all the liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Spread the mixture into a 13×9 inch baking pan. Top with the remaining uncooked bacon and bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350°F.

Process photos showing how to make cowboy baked beans.

Tips for success

  • Be sure to drain the liquid from the canned beans
  • Top with cheddar or pepper jack cheese for some added saltiness and flavor in this dish.
  • Dollop on some sour cream to add a creamy twist to the cowboy baked beans.
  • You can also make these cowboy baked beans in the slow cooker or crock pot. This is an excellent alternative for those who want an easy, fulfilling meal after a long day at work.
  • Use lean ground beef for this recipe for a healthier version. It is much higher in protein, minerals, and iron than traditional ground beef.
  • For a more rustic vibe, bake these cowboy beans in a large cast iron skillet.

FAQ

What should I serve with cowboy baked beans?

            These hearty baked beans can quickly be served on their own as an entree. They also taste great paired with rice or even scrambled eggs. Baked beans are a great dish to serve at barbeques as well for a nice variety.

Can I substitute bacon in this recipe?

            The bacon in this dish provides some delicious fat and crispy texture. Turkey bacon, pancetta, or crumbled sausage are all possible alternatives. The best part about this recipe is that it combines so many different flavors. Thus, substituting or skipping out on the bacon will still leave you with a yummy result.

What else is cooking?

One of my favorite recipes is this super tender Traeger smoked beef back ribs. These cowboy baked beans are the perfect recipe to accompany some juicy smoked ribs.

During your next barbecue or summer time hangout, you have got to try this guacamole with tomatoes and pepperoncini. It is the perfect guacamole salsa and great for sharing!

A serving spoon scooping up baked beans.

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Cowboy baked beans fresh out of the oven with bacon on top.

Cowboy Baked Beans

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Cowboy baked beans are loaded with bacon, ground beef, and a smoky, sweet barbecue sauce. This is a great dish to add to any cookout or potluck. This recipe uses various beans, but if you can't find them all, substitute them with beans available in your store.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) butter beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) navy beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) red beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dry ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with non-stick spray. 
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet or stockpot over medium-high heat. Set half of the bacon aside for later. Add the other half of the bacon to the hot skillet and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside. Drain the fat from the skillet. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, breaking it up along the way. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until it is no longer pink. 
  3. Push the ground beef to the edges of the skillet and add the onion. Cook until transparent. Stir in the garlic and the cooked bacon.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, along with the barbecue sauce, and stir to combine. Spread the mixture into a 13x9 inch baking pan. Top with the remaining uncooked bacon and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. 

Notes

  • Use a tangy barbecue sauce like my Kansas City-style BBQ Sauce. It really makes a world of difference when you use a quality sauce in this recipe.
  • For a healthier version, substitute ground turkey and turkey bacon.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 561Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 90mgSodium 1668mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 6gSugar 28gProtein 34g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Terri

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

Am I supposed to drain the canned beans or use the packing juices?

Thank you.

Joshua Boquist

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

Hi Terri, yes you will want to drain the beans before using them! Thank you for the comment.