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Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans (with Instant Pot version)

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This slow cooker cowboy beans recipe is a super hearty and filling side or main dish that will be loved by all the family!

Cowboy Beans
Cowboy Beans

A Bean by Any Other Name…

Slow cooker cowboy beans are a super popular dish in the Southeast US and the perfect option for a BBQ or a family meal. You may also have heard this recipe referred to as Texas Cowboy Beans, Chuck Wagon Beans, Campfire Beans. I’ve also included an Instant Pot variation here for a little more convenience.

These are the Southern version of Calico beans, with chili powder, BBQ sauce, liquid smoke and a completely different flavor, so if you love my calico beans recipe, think of those with a BBQ spice tang = heaven!

This recipe often reminds me of a pot of chili since it’s basically a big pot of meat and beans drenched in a deliciously tangy sauce! 

Regardless of what you decide to call it, this definitely falls into the camp of comfort foods. It’s a hearty, warming side dish to serve at a summer cookout or BBQ (maybe alongside my dry rub smoked brisket recipe) and also works as a main meal for the family dinner. I personally love a good pork and beans cowboy casserole! 

This Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans recipe is extremely versatile too and you can really put your own mark on the flavor depending on what spices you use.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef: 1 pound will do the trick!
  • 4 slices of thick-cut smoky bacon
  • Medium white onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Kidney beans
  • White beans
  • Molasses flavored pork and beans
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet based BBQ sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Chili powder
  • Liquid smoke

How to Make Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans  

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the beef and onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink, then drain.
  • Combine the beef mixture, bacon and all other ingredients in a slow cooker. For the liquid smoke you can add to taste, some people like it smokier!
  • For the slow cooker, place the lid on top and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.
  • If you want to cook in the oven you can also spoon the mixture into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 45-60 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

How to Make Instant Pot Cowboy Beans

To cook in an Instant Pot, you’ll need to do the following:

  • In the bottom of your Instant Pot using the “saute” button, cook the bacon for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add in the beef and onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink, then drain.
  • Combine the beef mixture, bacon and all other ingredients into the Instant Pot.
  • For the Instant Pot, use the chili/stew button and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. I do not recommend slow cooking using an Instant Pot as it doesn’t do as good of a job as an actual slow cooker.
  • Release the pressure via natural release for the safest way, or instant release it according to the manufacturer’s directions,
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

What is the Difference Between Charro Beans and Cowboy Beans?

“Charro” actually translates into “Cowboy” so these beans are the exact same – i.e. a Mexican version of pork and beans. There’s a useful fun fact if you’re ever at a table quiz in Cancun!

What to Serve with Cowboy Beans?

For a simple snack, cowboy beans are yummy served on toast, and they work well as a main meal too! For other serving options, try serving them with your choice of BBQ mains, corn chips, a nice salad, or simple meatloaf!

How Many Calories in Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans?

There are 490 calories, 31g protein, and 67g of carbs per portion of this recipe. The carb count is pretty high but the amount of protein you get from this vegetable-based meal makes up for it in my book.

If you’re looking for some other filling side dishes recipes, try these (there’s a good variation here depending on what you’re serving them with!):

Curried Cauliflower and Carrots

Honey & Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Garlic Balsamic Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Rosemary Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Happy Cooking!

Love,

Karlynn

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These slow cooker cowboy beans are the BBQ cousin to my calico beans.... and the entire family actually likes these beans better now! Simmer them low and slow all day and come home to a slow cooker full of delicious, tangy BBQ beans! #beans #crockpot #slowcooker

Learn to cook like the Kitchen Magpie

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans (with Instant Pot version)

These slow cooker cowboy beans are the BBQ cousin to my calico beans.... and the entire family actually likes these beans better now! Simmer them low and slow all day and come home to a slow cooker full of delicious, tangy BBQ beans!

Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
8 hours
Course
Main Course
Cuisine
American
Servings
8
Calories
490
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 slices of thick cut smoky bacon diced
  • 1 medium white onion diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 16 oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz can white beans drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz can molasses flavored pork and beans
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sweet BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions

Slow Cooker Method

  1. In a large skillet cook the bacon for 2-3 minutes. Add in the beef and onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink, then drain.

  2. Combine the beef mixture, bacon and all other ingredients in a slow cooker. For the liquid smoke you can add to taste, some people like it smokier!

  3. For the slow cooker, place the lid on top and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

  4. If you want to cook in the oven you can also spoon the mixture into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 45-60 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Instant Pot Method

  1. In the bottom of your Instant Pot using the "saute" button, cook the bacon for 2-3 minutes. Add in the beef and onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink, then drain.

  2. Combine the beef mixture, bacon and all other ingredients into the Instant Pot.

  3. For the Instant Pot, use the chili/stew button and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. I do not recommend slow cooking as it doesn't do as good of a job as an actual slow cooker.

  4. Release the pressure via natural release for the safest way, or instant release it according to the manufacturers directions,.

  5. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

 Adjust the BBQ sauce, liquid smoke and the chili powder to your liking. We like a lot of BBQ sauce in ours!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 490kcal, Carbohydrates: 67g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 901mg, Potassium: 1210mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 225IU, Vitamin C: 4.7mg, Calcium: 144mg, Iron: 7.2mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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