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Calico Bean Casserole

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Tangy, smoky, and slightly sweet calico baked bean casserole is a real crowd-pleasing dish that’s easy to make. The flavorful beans are mixed with bacon and ground beef (and veggies, if you want) for a delicious, hearty bean hamburger casserole. Gluten-free cowboy calico beans recipe can even be made only in one skillet!

baked calico beans with ham in a casserole

The Best Calico Beans and Hamburger Casserole

Classic calico bean casserole recipes have always made inexpensive filling dinners with kitchen staples. And, they’re perfect for weeknights or anytime you need a satisfying budget-friendly meal.

Take whatever cans of beans you have in the pantry, cook them with your favorite protein and in no time you are enjoying a tasty meal with the family. But, don’t be fooled by the ease of this hamburger and calico bean casserole recipe.

While the ingredients are basic (and gluten-free!), they create bold flavors together. The combination of ketchup, mustard, and vinegar mixed with brown sugar gives the colorful calico cowboy beans a delicious and tangy-sweet kick.

Kids and adults alike absolutely love the taste!

We really like this bean casserole for its ease. After all, it’s easy to swap out the beans for those you might have on hand (see recipe notes). Also, the calico bean casserole can even be prepared as a one-skillet dinner.

a skillet of calico beans

You can choose to cook the calico bean casserole with ground beef and veggies in an oven safe skillet pan. Or, transfer them to a baking dish. These calico baked beans are ready to serve in only 30 minutes.

Are you in a hurry? You can make this Instant Pot Calico Beans recipe instead.

What Are Calico Beans?

What are calico beans? The word calico means a variety – of colors in this case it’s beans.

Like a calico cat’s fur color, there is usually a brown, white, and red beans mixture all combined together in one pot.

So, we included a traditional mix of kidney, baked, butter, and garbanzo beans in this recipe. And, because of the different beans the casserole is colorful and tasty!

Ingredients Needed For A Calico Bean Casserole

This simple yet satisfying calico baked bean casserole is made with classic pantry staples and happens to be gluten-free. Nothing fancy is needed!

  • Bacon
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Pork and beans
  • Butter beans (lima beans)
  • Kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
ground beef, bacon, pork and beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, red kidney beans, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and apple cider vinegar ingredients for calico bean casserole recipe

optional Substitutions or additional ingredients

Use a unique mix of your favorite canned beans! Here are some ideas:

  • Use whatever canned beans you have available. Or, try swapping them with cannellini, broad, soy, pinto, or other beans.
  • Make calico cowboy beans casserole a complete one-pan meal by adding cut fresh or frozen green beans.
  • Swap pork bacon for turkey bacon. Since, turkey bacon has less fat add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet after the bacon has cooked (if needed).
  • Use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Swap ground beef or turkey with ground sausage.
  • Substitute ketchup with BBQ sauce for even tangier and smokier calico baked beans.
  • Add a tablespoon of molasses for a sweeter flavor and/or a teaspoon of liquid smoke for a more savory taste.

The options to customize this recipe are endless!

How to make the Best Cowboy Calico Beans

  • Add the ground beef, bacon, and onions in a large skillet (I prefer to use cast iron for a one-pot casserole). Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink and the onions are translucent. After that, drain the from excess fat from the skillet. 
calico beans in a skillet
  • Then, stir the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and vinegar into the skillet. Add the drained beans and pork and beans. Combine them by stirring until well mixed.
a casserole of mixed beans ground beef and bacon
  • Nest, add bacon and a drizzle of barbecue for a tangy, crispy topping!
  • Lastly, cover the calico bean casserole dish or skillet, and bake for 20-25 minutes. The baked beans should be bubbly.
a casserole dish of baked calico beans with bacon

Garnish calico beans with crispy cooked bacon bits, french onions, green onions, or shredded cheese before serving.

What to serve with Calico Beans?

One of my favorite things to serve with a hamburger and baked bean casserole is cornbread.

If cornbread isn’t your thing, how about easy 3 ingredient biscuits that are ready in 15 minutes? Maybe some tender drop biscuits or cheesy Cheddar Bay biscuits?

To add an element of healthy to these beans, serve them with a crisp fresh salad with tahini dressing.

a bowl of calico beans on a wooden board

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use dried beans in this calico baked beans recipe?

Do not use dried beans in this baked beans recipe. They will not soften during the baking time. Instead, use my Instant Pot Calico Beans recipe or make the in the crockpot with this slow cooker calico beans recipe.

What can I do to add more sauce to these calico cowboy beans?

Add an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, or a 16-ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained) or crushed tomatoes.

Hamburger and Calico Beans Casserole Recipe

a casserole dish of calico beans with bacon
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Calico Bean Casserole

These baked calico beans are perfect for a hearty dinner, potluck dish, or a summer barbeque. Canned beans make this hamburger and bean casserole a tangy and delicious but super easy dinner that's ideal any night of the week.
Course Main Course, Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword beans, calico beans, calico bean casserole, easy calico beans, beans and beef
Prep Time 10 minutes
20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 363kcal

Equipment

  • 12" skillet (or 3 quart skillet)
  • 3 quart casserole dish (if skillet isn't oven safe)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, thickly cut, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I recommend 85/15 ground hamburger)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup (see how to substitute with BBQ sauce in notes)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pork and beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) butter (lima) beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, drained

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Cook the ground beef, bacon, and onions in a large skillet (I prefer to use cast iron for a one pot recipe), until the ground beef is no longer pink and the onions are translucent. Drain excess fat from the skillet.
  • Stir in the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and vinegar to the skillet. Add the canned beans and combine, stirring until well mixed. If your skillet is oven-safe, skip to step 4. Add calico beans mixture to a 3 quart casserole dish.
  • Cover skillet or casserole dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly. Garnish calico beans with crispy bacon bits, french onions, green onions, or shredded cheese before serving.

Notes

Substitute garbanzo, lima (butter), or kidney beans with black beans, pinto, or navy beans.
Substitute ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard with 2 cups of BBQ sauce.
Leftovers will keep well stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 610mg | Potassium: 506mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 216IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg

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