Cowboy Beans are a hearty side dish made with ground beef, bacon, onion, peppers, brown sugar, baked beans, and barbecue sauce. Try my Simple Country Baked Beans for another sweet and savory baked beans side dish.

Cowboy Beans Recipe in Pot
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Cowboy Beans

What are cowboy beans? The name most likely came from the days when pioneers traveled along the trails and needed quick, easy, and filling foods. Beans last for a long time, and they can be made with just some water, so they were the perfect staple for extended journeys. By adding the ground beef to this recipe, it makes the dish even more filling!

Raw Ingredients for Cowboy Beans Recipe

Cowboy Beans Ingredients

Ground Beef: I prefer ground beef in this recipe; but, you could definitely try ground turkey as a substitute.

Bacon: Cook and crumble the bacon before adding it to the pot. To make this easy (with little clean-up), bake the bacon ahead of time on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet for 18-20 minutes at 415°F.

Seasonings: I added a little bit of garlic salt and onion powder to the mix.

Baked Beans: Choose two 28-ounce cans of your favorite brands of baked beans. We used Bush’s Original Baked Beans.

Barbecue Sauce: As with baked beans, choose your favorite kind of barbecue sauce. Or, use this homemade BBQ sauce

How to Cook Cowboy Beans Recipe

How to Store Cowboy Beans

To store cowboy beans, first, let them cool to room temperature. Then, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can I Freeze Baked Beans?

Yes! This recipe does make quite a bit, so you can easily freeze the leftovers. Be sure to let the side dish cool completely before putting it into a freezer-safe container. Label and date the container; they will last up to 6 months.

Spoonful of Hot Cowboy Beans

More Side Dishes

5 from 80 votes

Cowboy Beans

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cowboy Beans are a hearty side dish made with ground beef, bacon, onion, peppers, brown sugar, baked beans, and barbecue sauce.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (this is optional – you could omit)
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) baked beans, we used Bush's Original Baked Beans
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a 4 quart, heavy bottom, oven-safe pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat, add ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder. Cook until the hamburger is no longer pink. Drain the excess liquid.
  • Add cooked bacon crumbles, brown sugar, baked beans, barbecue sauce, and dijon mustard. Stir to incorporate all ingredients.
  • Cover and bake for 1 hour. (When done, the beans should be hot and bubbly and thickened.) Serve warm.


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Reader Comments

  1. Oh lord… I just had a flashback… My dad loved a very stripped down version of this. Just the hamburger, onion, celery, and beans. Absolutely nothing else, no spices, or BBQ sauce… He called it “Bean Sh!t” and it was dinner, not a side dish. I hated it because it was so dry and bland…
    This looks really good and I’ll have to try it soon… and will be sending this recipe to my brother!

  2. 5 stars
    Made them for a Fourth of July picnic. I usually just have beans out of the can and there’s always some leftover but these are all gone with just a bit left. everybody loved them thanks.

  3. Amanda…
    My veteran friends loved it so much, i am making it again. I am using the sweet heat bush’s beans and sweet and tangy baby rays to give it a little zing. Damn it’s good!

    1. No. If you do, each individual bean will form a metallic coating and then explode like shrapnel, likely injuring everyone at the table.

      Obviously you can have whatever you want as a side dish. A bread, noodles, kraft dinner, veggies, a snickers bar.

      But yes, my jackassery aside, cornbread is an amazing side for this. I’d maybe eliminate the the brown sugar in the recipe if your cornbread is also sweet.

  4. These sound delicious. Do you drain the canned beans before mixing with other ingredients? Thank you.

  5. Since yu are using some veggies in this recipe there has to be a cooking time and at what temp,Or did I miss it?

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! I made them for a going away party, and they were a big hit. Usually if I have to bring baked beans to an event, I get stuck with a bunch of leftovers. Only a small bowl of these were left. I made them in a crock pot, and it worked perfectly. Will be making them again!

  7. Hi Amanda…
    I want to make this recipe for about 15 veterans from my VFW group. How many servings does your recipe give? Should I double or triple your recipe? Thanks for any reply.

      1. Thanks Amanda…
        I will double the recipe. Would I have to double the bake time as well? Thanks for your help.

  8. I make this all the time now. Pretty much in one cast iron skillet. Chop up the bacon, get it oiling the pan. toss in onions and pepper. Let them get soft, just sear the ground beef all mixed with everything else. Toss in all the other stuff, pour the beans on last. Stir and let it simmer on low until it thickens.

    1. 5 stars
      I don’t see why not, but you’d need to pressure can for meat/bean times which is 75 minutes pints or 90 minutes quarts. Cannot be water bathed.

5 from 80 votes (46 ratings without comment)

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