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?
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- Add the undrained pork and beans to the slow cooker along with the rest of the drained and rinsed beans.
- 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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