June 29, 2017

Cowboy beans

I hope everyone is enjoying #CookoutWeek 2017 and finding tons of amazing recipes for your summer cookouts and picnics! Don't forget to enter to win our awesome giveaways for your summer cookout needs and more. Today, I'm sharing an over-the-top bean recipe for your next cookout. It's over-the-top because it contains not only four different types of beans*, but also beef and bacon. These beans are a hearty, sweet, stick-to-your-ribs side dish that feeds a crowd and is always a win! There are a lot of different versions of these types of bean dishes with many different names, but I like the name cowboy beans as they remind me of something one would eat while sitting around a campfire. They go perfectly with barbeque chicken, burgers, hot dogs (pro-tip: spoon some on top of your hot dog with a bit of mustard), and more! 

Cowboy beans
1/2 lb bacon
1 lb ground beef
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 (15.5 oz) cans of navy beans
1 (15.5 oz) can of pinto beans
1 (15.5 oz) can of red beans
1 (15.5 oz) can of butter (large lima) beans
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tastea few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, optional

*Feel free to substitute other beans. I like the color, texture, and size variety of these four, but if you can't find one or don't like one, use more of another or other beans like kidney or black would work as well.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Drain the bacon fat from the pot, leaving about 1 tablespoon.

Add the ground beef, onion, garlic powder, and a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is cooked through. Drain the fat from the pot and return the ground beef mixture. Stir in the ketchup through molasses.

Add the beans to the pot, leaving the juice in 1 can** and draining the rest. Stir carefully. Let the mixture heat through, stirring often (carefully so as to not mush up too many beans). Crumble the bacon and return it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper (and hot sauce, if desired). Adjust the other sauce ingredients as needed, too.

Serve immediately, or transfer to a slow cooker on low to keep warm until serving. You can also prepare a day ahead of time and then place in a slow cooker on low to reheat and stay warm until serving. If you find your beans are too dry, add a little water as needed.

**If you want soupier beans, feel free to add the bean liquid from more cans.

What was I cooking one year ago?: lemon-glazed strawberry poppy seed bread
Two years ago?: fresh strawberry pie
Three years ago?: stovetop kettle corn
Four years ago?: seared scallops over pearled couscous w/ peas & garlic scape sauce
Five?: farfelle w/ summer squash & garlic scape pesto
Six?: five bean salad
7?: ricotta cheese

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Let me know your favorite cookout side dish in the comments below for a bonus entry!


  1. Bacon and beans are amazing together! This looks soul comforting and delicious, Amy.

  2. I absolutely love cowboy beans - but I have to say that my recipe is completely different! I'll need to remember this and give your version a try.

  3. what a fun side dish! growing up i honestly wasn't a fan of baked beans but i need to try a homemade version...and yours look great (though i guess i don't know if they qualify as baked beans...ha!).

  4. I love these beans....we add beer and call them drunken beans.

  5. Wow, that is a hearty dish. I could make a meal of just these beans.

  6. Yum! I have eaten similar beans, but never made them myself. I'll definitely try them. They look so hearty and filling! P~

  7. I love any kind of pasta salad as a side dish. There are so many different kinds of pasta salad it can make it hard to choose.

  8. I am sure the addition of bacon makes these perfect! I did not have the same thought as you when I read the term cowboy beans, but I do love what you named them :)

  9. These beans look delicious. Love the flavors. :)

  10. These definitely sound like a win-win! love a good cookout and this mix of beef and beans sounds delicious. A perfect cowboy dinner along with some good BBQ chicken and corn on the cob! And the bacon is a great bonus :D


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