Sweet and savory flavors combine with hearty ground beef and beans for the perfect combination of flavor, texture, and aroma in this easy recipe for Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans! Enjoy as a side dish for any BBQ or potluck!
Cowboy beans are a southern classic side dish that originated in the American Southwest. The dish combines ground beef, beans, onions, peppers, and a sweet and savory sauce for an unforgettable flavor!
While this easy bean dish can be made on the stovetop, using the slow cooker makes them even better! Why? Slow cooking enhances the flavors of the ingredients and lets them meld together for a delicious combination. Plus, crock pot cowboy beans are incredibly easy to make - just dump all your ingredients in the crock pot and let it do the work!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans require minimal prep time - just mix all the ingredients in your crock pot and let it do the work!
- The sweet and savory flavors of the sauce, combined with the hearty ground beef and beans, are a perfect flavor combination.
- The ingredients are simple, budget-friendly, and can be found at most grocery stores.
- This crock pot recipe is perfect for any BBQ, potluck, or when you need a hearty side dish for dinner that can easily be customized!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Beef - Adds a natural beefy flavor to the dish along with texture and lots of satisfying protein.
- Bacon - Cooked bacon gives this dish a classic smoky flavor with a touch of saltiness.
- Onion - A yellow onion adds bold onion flavor that infuses into the sauce well.
- Beans - Two types of canned beans are added to this dish to add protein and fiber and make up the main hearty texture.
- Pork and Beans - Enhances the flavor of the sauce, giving it a savory pork flavor while adding sweetness and tanginess to the sauce.
- Ketchup - Imparts a light tomato flavor that is also sweet and tangy.
- Brown Sugar - Adds a touch of sweetness to the dish, balancing out all the savory flavors.
- Mustard - Enhances the flavor with an earthy, slightly acidic taste.
- Chili Powder - Adds a hint of southwest chili flavor that pulls the dish together.
- Black Pepper - Adds a kick of spice that helps balance the sweetness.
How To Make Cowboy Beans In The Slow Cooker
Cook the ground beef: Add the ground beef to a skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Break up with a spatula and brown the meat. This should take about 5-6 minutes. Drain any excess oil, then add it to the bottom of a slow cooker.
Cook the bacon and onion: Chop the raw bacon into small pieces. In the same skillet, add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Once cooked, add it to the slow cooker leaving the drippings in the pan. Cook the chopped onions in the remaining bacon grease until they are soft and translucent. Drain off the excess grease and add them to the slow cooker along with the beef and bacon.
Add beans: Drain the canned beans but not the pork and beans. Add them to the slow cooker.
Mix the sauce: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the ketchup, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, mustard, and chili powder. Then mix until well combined and pour over ground beef and beans. Mix until evenly distributed.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours. Give it a stir before serving while hot. Enjoy!
- Drain the oil from the beef and bacon before adding them to the crock pot, as extra grease will cause the dish to become too oily.
- The canned beans need to be drained and rinse well, as the canning liquid can be too thick and throw off the texture of the dish.
- Canned pork and beans are a popular choice for crock pot cowboy beans and can be found in the canned goods section of the grocery store.
- Make sure to mix the sauce ingredients together in a separate bowl before pouring it into the crock pot, as this helps combine all of the flavors evenly and prevents clumping.
- Instead of using ground beef, feel free to use other types of ground meat, including turkey, bison, or chicken.
- Add extra vegetables such as bell peppers or celery for a crunchy component to the dish.
- If you don't have bacon on hand, feel free to use diced ham or smoked sausage for a similar flavor profile.
- Make it spicy by adding diced jalapenos or a few dashes of hot sauce.
- Use other types of beans in the dish, including navy beans, black beans, or white beans.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Once cooled, any leftover cowboy beans can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing: To freeze, allow the beans to cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheating: The best way to reheat BBQ baked beans is in the microwave or on the stovetop. If reheating in a pan on the stove, add a few tablespoons of water to help prevent sticking and drying out.
Yes, if you do not have a crock pot handy, you can make crockpot cowboy beans in a Dutch oven or large baking dish. Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for 1 hour, occasionally stirring until the beans are cooked through.
Canned pork and beans can be found in the canned goods section of most grocery stores. If you are unable to find them, feel free to substitute them with baked beans along with extra bacon or pieces of cooked pork.
Yes, if you are looking for a vegetarian option, feel free to omit the ground beef, bacon, and pork and use vegetarian meat crumbles instead. You can also add diced vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini.
More Slow Cooker Side Dishes
- Easy Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes
- Crock Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Crock Pot Cheesy Hash Browns
- Crock Pot Ranch Potatoes
- Crock Pot Creamed Corn
SHARE IT & RATE IT
Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ lb bacon (cut into bite size pieces)
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 2 (16 oz) cans of pork and beans
- 1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- ½ tsp chili powder
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add hamburger and cook until browned. It takes about 5-7 minutes, then drain and add to a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add chopped bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp. It takes about 4-5 minutes, then add bacon into the slow cooker. Add onion to the bacon drippings and cook until translucent. It takes about 5-6 minutes. Drain and add to the slow cooker.
- Add pork and beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans to the slow cooker.
- Add ketchup, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, mustard, and chili powder in a medium bowl. Mix until well combined and pour over ground beef and beans. Then, mix until well combined.
- Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
- Serve while hot, and enjoy!
- After cooling, cowboy beans can be preserved in an airtight container and refrigerated for a maximum of four days.
- Cowboy beans can be prepared in the oven, effectively turning them into "baked beans." To do this, you will need to complete the first four steps of the instructions using a Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot. Then, add all remaining ingredients, stir, and transfer to a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.