Slow Cooker Calico Beans

Slow Cooker Calico Beans have beef, bacon, and three kinds of beans. They are the ultimate party side dish or an easy weeknight meal option!

Looking for a hearty dinner option or an easy potluck side? Slow Cooker Calico Beans are the answer and your champion of simple, delicious dishes.

Calico Beans are my go-to recipe when I want something tasty and filling.

Falling somewhere between sloppy joes and baked beans, Calico Beans have – get ready for this – ground beef, bacon, and 3 kinds of beans.

Looking for a hearty dinner option or an easy potluck side? Slow Cooker Calico Beans are the answer and your champion of simple, delicious dishes.

Yeah, no one is going home hungry.

I also love that they work interchangeably as a main dish OR a side dish depending on your situation.

I love making a huge batch of Calico Beans on a Friday and then having them all weekend long in case anyone is peckish. They truly make you happy from the inside out.

Looking for a hearty dinner option or an easy potluck side? Slow Cooker Calico Beans are the answer and your champion of simple, delicious dishes.

Beef and Bacon

You can go as lean as you want on the ground beef since you’ll be frying it in bacon fat.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Beans

The kidney beans and the pork & beans** are pretty self-explanatory, but it’s that third kind of bean that might trip you up.

The original recipe (from my friend Sandy) calls for canned Lima beans. Over the years I’ve found that many stores don’t carry canned Lima beans, so sometimes I substitute butter beans. Other times I substitute any bean I can find.

Lima, butter, Cannelini, pinto, great northern, more kidney, whatever. Use any beans you can find. It doesn’t matter.

** For those of you that wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering the difference between baked beans and pork & beans, find all your answers here.

Looking for a hearty dinner option or an easy potluck side? Slow Cooker Calico Beans are the answer and your champion of simple, delicious dishes.

Oven-Baked Option

If you’d rather heat your Calico Beans in the oven, preheat your oven to 350°F, pour your meat and bean mixture into a casserole dish, cover, and bake 45 minutes to an hour.  Everything is already cooked so you just have to get it piping hot.

This is a great make-ahead dish! Cook your meats and pour everything together the night before. Leave overnight in the refrigerator, then heat in your slow cooker in the morning.

It’s almost too easy.

Looking for a hearty dinner option or an easy potluck side? Slow Cooker Calico Beans are the answer and your champion of simple, delicious dishes.

Save this Slow Cooker Calico Beans to your “Slow Cooker” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

Slow Cooker Calico Beans

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time:5 min

Cook Time:4 hours 10 min

Total Time:4 hours 15 min

Slow Cooker Calico Beans have beef, bacon, and three kinds of beans. They are the ultimate party side dish or an easy weeknight meal option!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans pork and beans, undrained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed (see notes)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and bacon; drain well and transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Add onion, all beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Mix well, cover, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or until heated through.
  3. To bake in the oven, preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the beef and bacon as in step 1, then transfer to a casserole dish with a cover. Add remaining ingredients and cover. Bake 45 minutes to an hour. Everything is already cooked, so you just have to get it piping hot.
Notes:
  1. Any other canned bean can be substituted for the butter beans (Cannelini, great northern, pinto, more kidney, etc.).

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24 comments

  1. Make-ahead dishes are the best. This is real comfort food to me. I could devour that entire bowl in no time – I’d probably make a double batch since I can already tell how tasty they must be ;).

  2. These look incredible Meggan! This looks really similar to a recipe my uncle makes and I can attest that it is just FABULOUS! Pinned!

  3. I’ve never had calico beans, so I should make these because they sound and look amazing.

  4. Such a beautiful comfort dish ! Never tried Calico beans, but will definitely get a can of these. Slow cooker is the perfect option for cooking beans, as they normally ( especially not canned ones ) take a while to cook. Pinning!

  5. Oh I need to try these beans! I LOVE baked beans and sloppy joes so you won me over by describing these beans as a cross between the two!

  6. This is slow cooker shortcut central! I love it! Canned pork and beans are horrendous in Australia but they are so good in the US! So I would never have created a recipe like this. Legendary! I am obsessed with my slow cooker! I might try this with just ordinary canned beans. I highly approve that you have used ketchup and vinegar – SO RIGHT. Gotta balance the sweet and sour!!

  7. I’ve never cooked beans in the slow cooker. . but I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’m all about using my slow cooker in the fall and winter. . in fact, I’m slow cooking pork shoulder right now! Pinned!!

  8. Pingback: 10 Memorial Day simple side dishes - Culinary Ginger

  9. it’s a wonderful cold day fix along with some sweet cornbread and ice tea… we sub pork and beans with ranch style pintos with jalapenos.. adds just a tiny kick..

  10. I have made these for years and they are one of my favorites. I was wondering what you would think about putting chopped cabbage in with it?

    • Hi Tim, I say why not! That sounds pretty good to me. Cabbage is a good choice because it won’t get too soggy (at least not right away). If you try it, please let me know. I’ll do the same!

  11. Great easy meal suggestion! It reminds me of a dish my mom used to make for us every Halloween! (She was determined to get some protein in us before trick or treating! It worked! lol!) 

  12. I remember eating this as a kid, but I have forgotten all about it!  Thanks for reminding me!  Don’t remember my mom making it in the slow cooker, so this is an awesome option!!

  13. Made the slow cooker calico beans yesterday. Two things I would do differently:
    Fry bacon separately from ground beef – don’t care for floppy, rubbery pork.
    Sauté onion in bacon fat – onions were still crunchy even after 6 hours.
    Prep time will be longer but 5 minutes is inaccurate anyway!

    • Hi Sally! I’ve also thought about the bacon thing. It’s a good call, I’ll probably make the recipe again and change it to that. I also agree about the onions, but I guess I always kind of like the crunch. But yeah, again something to experiment with. You are also right about the prep time (3 for 3!), that should probably be at least 10 minutes, possibly 15. I’ll have to time it next time I make these. Thanks for your insights, they are appreciated! And will likely be incorporated. :)

    • I should also say, there is no point in making a “dump and pour” slow cooker recipe if the results aren’t good. Sometimes I give in to the trends and move in that direction, but you have reminded me to just focus on the best food, even if it takes a little longer. Thanks.

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