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Calico Bean Casserole

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Tangy, smoky, and slightly sweet calico baked beans casserole is a real crowd-pleasing dish that’s amazingly easy to prepare. Flavorful beans are combined with ground beef (and veggies, if you like) and simple pantry staples for a delicious, hearty hamburger casserole that eats as an entire meal. This gluten-free cowboy calico bean recipe can even be made in one skillet! Perfect for weeknights or anytime you need a budget-friendly dinner that is sure to satisfy.

a casserole dish of calico beans with bacon

The Best Calico Bean and Hamburger Casserole

Classic calico bean recipes have always been frugal wonders that make delicious dinners with kitchen staples.

Take whatever cans of beans you have in the pantry, cook them with your favorite protein and a few key condiments, and in no time you are enjoying a satisfying meal with the family.

But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this hamburger and calico bean casserole recipe.

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

Kids and adults alike absolutely love the taste!

We also really like these beans for their versatility… It’s easy to swap out any of the beans for those you might have on hand (see recipe notes). The casserole can even be prepared as a one-skillet dinner.

a skillet of calico beans

Whether you choose to cook them with ground beef and veggies then bake in one pan, or transfer to a baking dish, these calico baked beans are ready to serve in only 30 minutes.

In a hurry? Make Instant Pot Calico Beans instead. This one pot dinner is equally delicious.

What Are Calico Beans?

The term “calico” refers to the fact that these types of dishes include a variety of beans. Like a calico cat’s fur color, there is usually a mixture of brown, white, and red beans all combined together in one pot.

In this recipe we include a traditional mix of kidney, baked, butter, and garbanzo beans. Because of the different beans the casseroles are beautifully colorful – and, of course, super flavorful!

Ingredients Needed For Calico Cowboy Beans

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

  • Bacon
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Pork and beans
  • Butter (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 beans

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

optional Substitutions or additional ingredients

  • Of course, feel free to include whatever canned beans you have available. You can use one or two of the varieties listed here in greater quantity. Or try swapping with cannellini, broad, soy, pinto, or other beans you prefer.
  • Make calico cowboy beans a complete one-pan meal by adding cut fresh or frozen green beans, too.
  • Swap pork bacon for turkey bacon. But because turkey bacon has less fat and therefore grease, you also want to add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet after the bacon has cooked.
  • Use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Up the meatiness of the dish by swapping 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 even more savory taste.

The options to customize this recipe are endless!

How to make the Best Calico Beans

  • 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. 
how to make calico beans
  • Stir in the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and vinegar to the skillet. Add the canned beans and combine, stirring until well mixed.
a casserole of mixed beans ground beef and bacon
  • Add bacon and a drizzle of barbecue for a tangy, crispy topping!
  • 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.
a casserole dish of calico beans with bacon

What to serve with Calico Beans?

One of my favorite things to serve with a hamburger and beans casserole is a delicious cornbread (this one is made without corn meal!).

If corn bread isn’t your thing, how about some easy 3 ingredient biscuits that are ready in 15 minutes? Choose tender drop biscuits or deliciously cheesy Cheddar Bay biscuits.

To add an element of healthy to these beans, serve them with a crisp fresh salad with a tangy 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?

I do not recommend using dried beans in this baked beans recipe because the amount of time they are baked in the oven isn’t long enough to soften dried beans. Instead, use my Instant Pot Calico Beans recipe or make them in the Crock-Pot (recipe coming soon!).

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.

Get the Best Calico Bean Casserole Recipe Here

a casserole dish of calico beans with bacon
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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

Here’s The Full Hamburger and Calico Beans Casserole Recipe:

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