Cowboy Beans are the perfect blend of sweet, savory, and smoky flavors, making them an ideal side dish for barbecues, potlucks, and family dinners. This classic recipe combines ground beef, bacon, onions, peppers, brown sugar, baked beans, and barbecue sauce to create a hearty and satisfying dish. If you are looking for more delicious side dishes, make sure to check out our Slow Cooker Cheesy Corn.

A pot filled with cowboy beans.

The History Behind Cowboy Beans

The origins of Cowboy Beans likely date back to the days of pioneers and cowboys traveling across the American frontier. Beans were a staple for these journeys due to their long shelf life and ease of preparation with minimal ingredients. By adding ground beef, this dish becomes even more filling, providing the necessary energy for those long days on the trail. We make our cowboy beans with a few modern-day shortcuts, making this delicious side dish even easier!

Key Ingredients and Their Importance

  • Ground Beef: Adds a rich and hearty flavor. Ground turkey can be used as a leaner substitute.
  • Bacon: Provides a smoky, savory taste. Pre-cooking and crumbling the bacon ensures it’s evenly distributed throughout the dish.
  • Onion and Peppers: These vegetables add texture and a subtle sweetness.
  • Brown Sugar: Enhances the sweetness and complements the smoky bacon and savory beef.
  • Baked Beans: Choose two 28-ounce cans of your favorite brand. They are the foundation of this dish.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Adds depth and a tangy sweetness. Use your favorite store-bought brand or try a homemade version.
A spoonful of hearty cowboy beans

How to Store Cowboy Beans

To store, allow the beans to cool to room temperature before transferring them to an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can I Freeze Cowboy Beans?

Yes! Cowboy Beans freeze very well, making them a great make-ahead option. To freeze, let the beans cool completely, then place them in a freezer-safe container. Label and date the container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.

A pot filled with cowboy beans.

Cowboy Beans

Prep Time 29 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Whether you're serving these hearty Cowboy Beans at a summer cookout or a cozy family dinner, they're sure to be a hit!


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) Bush's Original Baked Beans
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coarse ground dijon mustard


  • Heat a 4-quart Dutch oven) heat over medium heat. Add the ground beef, diced yellow onion, diced green bell pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ground beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid from the pot.
  • Add the cooked bacon crumbles, light brown sugar, baked beans, barbecue sauce, and mustard to the pot. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients evenly.
  • Cover the pot with its lid and transfer it to the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour, or until the beans are hot, bubbly, and thickened.
  • Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Serve the baked beans warm.

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