Loaded with bacon and ground beef, these cowboy beans are smoky, sweet, and savory with a southwest flair.
Meals like this I can never decide how to classify. Cowboy beans are hardy and feature enough ingredients to be a full meal, but they also closely resemble my homemade baked beans, which is a side dish. Not to mention, this dish is also a popular potluck staple. I guess that is exactly why I love cowboys, they are popular because they taste so dang good, and the dish is really versatile so it can be enjoyed many different ways.
Cowboy beans is the southwestern cousin of traditional baked beans. They take on a more distinct BBQ flavor and can be spiked with a little bit of heat to balance the sweetness. This recipe is also easily customizable to fit anyone's tastes.
Cowboy Beans Ingredients
Cowboy beans are loaded with lean ground beef and bacon, as well as tender navy beans. For a different twist in flavor, try using breakfast sausage instead of beef, and feel free to substitute your favorite beans, such as pinto or great northern.
BBQ sauce is the primary sauce flavoring agent. Some BBQ sauces are sweeter than others, if you buy a particularly sweet BBQ sauce you can cut back on the brown sugar added to this recipe. Treat the brown sugar like salt, just add it to taste.
Onions and peppers are added to these beans for flavor and texture. Poblanos are a great choice because they provide a light kick of mild heat. However, feel free to substitute jalapeno if you want to kick it up a bit more.
Can I substitute Canned Beans?
This recipe calls for one pound of dry beans (affiliate link), which need to be cooked/soaked and softened prior to use, because they have the best texture. However, you can purchase canned beans instead. Two 15 ounce cans, drained and rinsed, should be perfect.
Can I make Cowboy Beans in the Slow Cooker?
Yes, cowboy beans are easy to make in the slow cooker. It is easiest to make these beans in your crockpot if using canned beans rather than dried beans, but dried beans will work if soaked overnight. Simply saute the beef, bacon, onions, and peppers in a skillet and then combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, set it to high and let it cook for a couple hours until everything is heated through and tender.
- Add dried beans into a boiling pot of water and simmer until beans soften but are still firm. 1-2 hours. Alternatively, you can soak beans overnight instead.
- While beans simmer, add bacon and ground beef to a large skillet and cook over medium heat, until beef has browned and bacon is crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Reserving 2 tablespoons of the bacon/beef drippings, add the onion and peppers to the skillet and saute until tender.
- Once beans have softened, drain from water and combine with all ingredients in a medium pot. Set pot over medium-low heat and cook until everything is heated, stirring occasionally.
- Serve immediately, or keep warm in a slow cooker.