This cowboy beans recipe is made with ground beef and bacon, all baked together in a sweet and savory sauce. A hearty side dish that pairs perfectly with grilled meats and seafood.
Have you ever tried cowboy beans? If not, you’re totally missing out! This is a twist on the classic baked beans, with the addition of ground beef for a dish that’s simple yet totally satisfying.
How do you make Cowboy beans?
First, par-cook small squares of bacon in a pan. Remove the bacon from the pan and most of the bacon grease. Use the remaining bacon grease in the pan to cook the onions and ground beef. Add canned beans, mustard, brown sugar, molasses, ketchup and apple cider vinegar to the pan and stir them to combine. Pour everything into a baking dish and place the bacon on top. Bake the beans for 2 hours until the sauce has thickened and the bacon is cooked through. Take the cowboy beans out of the oven and garnish them with a bit of fresh chopped parsley, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect side dish
- I use kitchen shears to cut the bacon into squares, it makes quick work of this task.
- Feel free to assemble your ingredients and keep them in a refrigerator for up to 8 hours before you plan to plan to cook them. You will want par-cook your bacon and cook your onions and ground beef before you store them.
- I typically use 90% lean ground beef, it has plenty of flavor without a lot of excess grease.
- These beans stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
- I like to finely crumble the ground beef so that it mixes in nicely with the beans. If you prefer larger sized pieces of meat, that’s totally fine too!
Can you freeze cowboy beans?
Cowboy beans stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. Store the beans in a resealable plastic bag or in an airtight container. Reheat your beans by thawing them in the refrigerator and pan cooking them on the stove until heated through.
While this recipe is great as-is you can absolutely add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Beans: You can use a variety of beans in addition to or in lieu of the baked beans. Some good options include white beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans or lima beans.
- Spicy: Feel free to add some hot sauce for an additional kick. You can also stir in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Sweetener: If you want a sweeter dish or you don’t have molasses on hand, you can use maple syrup instead of molasses.
- Meat: Different types of pork can be used to flavor the beans such as salt pork, smoked sausage or diced ham. You can also swap out the ground beef for sausage.
These cowboy beans are a must-make recipe for those times when you need a side dish to feed a crowd. The smoky flavor just can’t be beat!
More side dish recipes to try
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
- Corn Casserole
Cowboy Beans Video
- 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 cup onion finely diced
- 3 15 ounce cans pork and beans partially drained
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves chopped
- cooking spray
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until partially done. Remove the bacon from the pan.
- Pour some of the bacon fat out of the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Add the ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat into fine crumbles with a spoon.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Season the onions with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the beans, mustard, brown sugar, molasses, ketchup and apple cider vinegar to the pan. Stir until well combined.
- Pour the bean mixture into the prepared dish. Layer the pieces of bacon all over the top.
- Bake for 60-90 minutes or until bean mixture has thickened and bacon is browned and cooked through. Stir to combine.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve immediately.