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Slow Cooker Calico Beans

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Calico beans. Cowboy beans. Baked beans with beef and bacon. These deliciously easy beans go by many names, but they’re all basically the same thing, a variety of colorful beans slow simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce with ground beef and bacon.

As a food blogger, a lot of people ask me questions about food in real life. Things like, what side dishes go well with this main dish? What’s something good to make for a crowd? What’s a dessert that looks impressive, but is super easy?

Personally my most frequent question, the Google search term I use on a near weekly basis is “easy ground beef recipe ideas.” So if that’s a question you have too, you’ll appreciate this slow cooker calico beans recipe.

 I love this slow cooker I bought on Amazon because it’s got neat chalkboard inserts to you can write on it what’s inside! Perfect for potlucks. 

Slow Cooker Calico Beans are:

  • Sweet and Smoky
  • Tangy and Saucy
  • Cheap and filling
  • Work as a main dish or a side dish
  • Customisable to whatever beans you have on hand!

How do you make slow cooker calico beans?

  1. You start by frying up bacon nice and crisp. Then a pound of hamburger, chopped onion, and diced green pepper are added to the pan. Once the ground beef is browned, the fat is drained off and into the slow cooker it goes.

 2.  Add one can of undrained pork and beans and 3 cans of drained and rinsed beans to the slow cooker.

Note:  I like black beans, butter beans and kidney beans because I like the way those colors look. But you can also use: garbanzo beans, lima beans, green beans, Great Northern beans, cannelini beans, pinto beans… the varieties are pretty vast.

3. The sauce for these beans can be measured and mixed right into the slow cooker. You’ll need ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and liquid smoke. Once it’s all mixed together, simply turn it on low for 4-5 hours. Easy peasy.

In my house we like to eat this as a main dish alongside my favorite version of cornbread , which is an easy Jiffy cornbread hack, or  with molasses skillet cake. This country classic definitely meets the easy ground beef recipe category and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!


A bowl of Slow Cooker Calico Beans sitting on a napkin with a spoon.

Slow Cooker Calico Beans

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

A variety of colorful beans slow simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce with ground beef and bacon.


  • 6 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pork and beans
  • 1  (15 ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring


  1. In a medium sized skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Then add the ground beef, onion and green pepper and cook until the ground beef is well browned. Drain off the fat and add the meat mixture to a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
  2. Add the undrained pork and beans to the slow cooker along with the rest of the drained and rinsed beans. 
  3. Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and liquid smoke. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.


To make these beans on the stove top, simply prepare in the same way, adding the ingredients instead to a large pot and simmering for 25-30 minutes. 

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low Cooker Calico Beans have a variety of colorful beans slow simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce with ground beef and bacon. #groundbeefrecipe #groundbeef #slowcooker #bakedbeans

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Monday 8th of August 2022

I made these for our family and they loved them. Substituted some of the catsup with my husbands BBQ sauce. They sure were a hit. Now I have to make them for our Grandsons graduation party for around 150 people. Trying to figure out how much to make. I’ve tried other recipes but like yours the best. Thanks.


Monday 6th of June 2022

YES!! Been eating tgese since I was a kid. My original recipe came from taste of home. Over the years, I stopped using a recipe and just eyeballed everything. They started straying from the taste of the original recipe, so I went back to find it on TOH. There are ALOT of recipes for the same dish but none were the one that I originally had. This is it!!! I had been forgetting tge liquid smoke for years!!🙃 THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Amy Jo

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

My family always called them, "Bets In the West BBQ Bean Bake". No green peppers in our recipe but very similar otherwise and so delish. We always served with cornbread as well. I am adding this to my menu soon as I have everything for it. Yum.


Saturday 27th of April 2019

I have been making these beans since the early 1970's. My whole family love these baked beans. I have never put bell pepper or liquid smoke in them. Bu I am going to give it a try

Amy D

Monday 29th of April 2019

Sharyn, I know that calico beans are good without both of those ingredients because I've had them that way too. But I think that they add a little something special. You'll have to tell me if you agree.

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