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!
Calico Beans are my go-to recipe when I want something tasty and filling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slow Cooker Calico Beans
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound bacon diced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 (16 ounce) cans pork and beans drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can butter beans drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and bacon; drain well and transfer to the slow cooker.
- 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.
- 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.
Any other canned bean can be substituted for the butter beans (Cannelini, great northern, pinto, more kidney, etc.).