Calico Beans

published Feb 27, 2022
Calico Beans Recipe

These rich and thick beans pair perfectly with grilled foods and backyard barbecues.

Serves10 to 12

Makes about 2 quarts

Prep10 minutes

Cook1 hour 5 minutes

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Calico beans (Pork and beans, kidney beans, butter beans, and lima beans mixed with browned ground beef and bacon)
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

This recipe for calico beans is one you want to keep in your back pocket once summer rolls around. The rich and thick beans pair perfectly with grilled foods and backyard barbecues. Calico beans are sometimes called “cowboy beans” or “trucker beans.” The dish is a colorful combination of canned pork and beans, kidney beans, and butter beans, along with ground beef and crisp bacon. The wide variety of colors is what led to the name “calico beans” because the dish resembles the multi-colored fur on calico cats.

While typically served as a side dish, calico beans are so hearty that it can easily be positioned as a main as well. Simply treat a bowl as you would a serving of chili and garnish it with all your favorite chili toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, or jalapeño slices.

How Long Do Calico Beans Last in the Fridge?

When stored in an airtight container, calico beans last in the fridge for about 3 days. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

Can You Freeze Calico Beans?

Calico beans can also be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, allow the beans to defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat on the stovetop until heated through.

Can I Make This Ahead?

Yes, calico beans can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve.

Calico Beans Recipe

These rich and thick beans pair perfectly with grilled foods and backyard barbecues.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes

Makes about 2 quarts

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 8 ounces

    sliced bacon (about 8 slices)

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef (90% lean)

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    kidney beans

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    butter beans

  • 2 (11- to 15-ounce) cans

    pork and beans

  • 1/2 cup

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    prepared yellow mustard

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

  2. Dice 1/2 medium yellow onion (abouto 1 cup). Cut 8 ounces sliced bacon crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

  3. Place the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.

  4. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the onion and 1 pound lean ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until the beef is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and drain 1 (about 15-ounce) can kidney beans and 1 (about 15-ounce) can butter beans. Open 2 (11- to 15-ounce) cans pork and beans but do not drain.

  5. When the beef is ready, drain off any excess liquid. Add the kidney beans, butter beans, pork and beans, and bacon to the skillet and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir unil combined.

  6. Transfer to a 9x13-inch or other 2-quart baking dish. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.