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Cowboy Calico Beans

This is a tradition at the table when my girlfriends and I go up north for a girls' weekend. The husbands and kids are left at home, but the slow cooker comes with us! —Julie Butsch, Hartland, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Cook: 4 hours
  • Makes
    8 servings


  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 can (16 ounces) butter beans, drained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pork and beans
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) lima beans, rinsed and drained


  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Combine the brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and mustard; add to meat mixture. Stir in the beans. Cover and cook on low until heated through, 4-5 hours.
Nutrition Facts
3/4 cup: 326 calories, 5g fat (2g saturated fat), 35mg cholesterol, 808mg sodium, 52g carbohydrate (22g sugars, 10g fiber), 22g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • hondapcgirl1
    Feb 13, 2021

    Good, but too sweet. I would change the amounts of ketchup & brown sugar around. Would be good on rice. 2.5 stars

  • JGa2595176
    Feb 5, 2021

    Love this recipe, a sure hit for potlucks and group gatherings. Easily doubles. Sometimes we add some cooked bacon.

  • Becky
    Jan 9, 2021

    I really liked this recipe. Next time I will cut the sugar in half. It was a little sweet for me, but very good!

  • Ella
    Nov 7, 2020

    This is my first time attempting to use your website after signing up to receive the email recipe newsletters. I cannot even read the recipe in full after closing out multiple times because you have placed “TEXT INGREDIENTS” over part of the ingredients! So I can’t tell if a recipe I was interested in is something I have on hand. I don’t need to text every recipe to determine this! I have likewise had to continually X the aggressive, continual ads on your side interrupting the page experience. I understand sponsorship but this is well over the top, no other similar subscription do I have to hunt for the content vs appearing as an ad page.

  • shereeder
    Nov 6, 2020

    I have made these for several years to bring to our Christmas potluck. The dish always comes back empty, so I always put a bit aside so I have some for later at home. Almost a meal in itself. Someone asked years ago the difference between lima beans - green in color - and butter beans - yellow in color. They are totally different in flavor. My recipe doesn't call for lima beans. Mine also calls for a tablespoon of molasses and bacon. Everything tastes better with bacon.

  • Pat
    Sep 1, 2020

    Great basic recipe, the best I've found. I added about twice the vinegar, since I like the tang, a couple teaspoons of smoked paprika and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. And, of course, BACON!

  • Anne
    Aug 31, 2020

    Wow! I normally don’t like bean things. I do eat Lima beans, sometimes Red beans in chili, but not a fan of all the others used in this recipe. But I made it following the recipe and it is great! More like a chili type meal and not a soup type. I loved eating mine with tortilla chips!

  • Len
    Jul 31, 2020

    I made this but used 1/2lb of cooked bacon and a can of Bush Honey Maple beans. Unbelievable dish!

  • Debra
    Jun 19, 2020

    My Aunt Henrietta used to make these for all our birthdays. I do put in 3 cans of pork

  • Donna
    Jun 16, 2020

    Perfect recipe. Cooked these last night , we all enjoyed them. Would be great for a potluck get together. At first , after reading one of the comments, I ommited some of the brown sugar in fear it would be to sweet. But then had to add it back into the dish. This recipe has a perfect balance with the acidity and sweet. Just try it exactly as it is.