If you’re looking for a delicious, hearty side dish that the whole family will love, cowboy beans are the answer! A variety of beans are simmered together with applewood smoked bacon, garlic, chopped onions, and ground beef, all in a tangy barbecue sauce!
Cowboy beans are so flavorful and hearty. They’re perfect for potlucks and barbecues once summer rolls around! A few more similar recipes to try are these tried and true baked beans, bean stew, and my insanely good crockpot chili!
Cowboy Beans Recipe
If you haven’t tried cowboy beans before, you’re in for a treat. This hearty side is like an elevated version of baked beans. It’s made with both kidney and cannellini beans for the perfect texture, and then loaded with applewood bacon, diced onion, garlic, ground beef, and pork. Combined with the thick, flavorful sauce, these cowboy beans are a knockout side. Your friends and family will go crazy over them!
I need to just take a minute to talk about this sauce, though. It is to die for! I used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce as a base, but then jazzed it up with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar for the perfect tangy flavor. You’re going to want to lick your bowl clean. Try these cowboy beans out for your next family get-together! I promise they won’t disappoint.
What Are Cowboy Beans Made Of?
The combination of all of these ingredients is divine. What really makes cowboy beans stand out is the savory, tangy flavor that it has, plus it’s filled with ground beef and bacon. You can’t go wrong with bacon! See the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- Bacon: I used thick-cut applewood bacon. It just has the best flavor! It’s perfect for adding to a hearty side dish like cowboy beans.
- Diced Onion: I used a yellow onion here. Yellow onions are sharp but mild, perfect for adding to savory side dishes.
- Minced Garlic: Use fresh garlic if you can! It will give your cowboy beans the best flavor.
- Ground Beef: I used lean ground beef. You can also swap this out for ground pork or even ground turkey if you want a leaner version of this dish.
- Seasonings: I used a mix of chili powder and salt and pepper to add a little heat and boost the flavor of the beans.
- Canned Pork and Beans: We usually have a lot of these in the pantry. This cowboy beans recipe is great for using them up!
- Beans: For the best texture, I use both canned cannellini beans and kidney beans here.
- Barbecue Sauce: I used Sweet Baby Ray’s. You can also make some from scratch to customize the flavor! Find my full recipe here.
- Additional Sauces: What really makes these cowboy beans delicious (in my opinion) is the flavorful sauce! It’s the perfect blend of savory and tangy. In addition to barbecue sauce, I added ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar.
Let’s Get Cooking!
I love cowboy beans because it’s such an easy side to make. Once you’ve cooked up your bacon, all you have to do is combine all of your ingredients and throw them in the oven for 45 minutes! Because it’s so hands-off, you can take that time to make some tasty homemade cornbread to complete the meal!
- Preheat Oven, Cook Bacon: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Cook Diced Onion: Leave some bacon grease in the bottom and add the onion. Cook until almost tender.
- Cook Ground Beef: Add in the garlic and ground beef. Cook and crumble ground beef until no longer pink. Drain excess grease.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Add in chili powder, salt, pepper, pork and beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and stir just until incorporated.
- Bake and Serve: Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Can I Make Cowboy Beans in the Slow Cooker?
Yes! It’s so easy! You’re going to love having these cowboy baked beans to come home to. Simply cook your bacon, ground beef, and diced onion, then add to a crock pot with the other ingredients and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5.
Cowboy beans are the perfect side dish for any season. They’re warm, hearty and comforting in the winter, but also great for summer cookouts! Here are a few extra flavor additions to customize your beans with.
- Add in Beans: The more kinds of beans, the merrier! Feel free to add in white beans, black beans, pinto beans, or garbanzo beans. They add such a great texture!
- Make it Sweeter: Cowboy beans are absolutely delicious with a little sweetness. Feel free to add in brown sugar, honey, or molasses to taste!
- Add Smoky Flavor: If you want your cowboy beans to have smoky flavor, try adding in a tablespoon of liquid smoke!
Storing Leftover Cowboy Beans
Cowboy beans are great for leftovers. They make the perfect quick and easy lunch to heat up in the microwave!
- In the Refrigerator: Store cowboy beans in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- In the Freezer: Store in an airtight freezer bag for 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- 1/2 pound bacon I used thick but applewood bacon, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 15 ounce can Pork and beans (not drained)
- 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
- 1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained
- 1 cup barbecue sauce I used Sweet Baby Rays
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Leave some bacon grease in the bottom and add the onion. Cook until almost tender.
Add in the garlic and ground beef and cook and crumble ground beef until no longer pink. Drain excess grease.
Add in chili powder, salt, pepper, pork and beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and stir just until incorporated.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.