Calico Beans, Crockpot Style

Pot of Baked Beans on a Blue Gingham
Bob Ingelhart / Getty Images
  • 5 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 5 hrs
  • Yield: 8 servings
Ratings

This one-dish meal is just about as easy as it gets. The crockpot does the work while you are free to do other things. When it's ready, you have a balanced dinner all in one dish -- meat and vegetables, including starchy vegetables.

Serve with cornbread, corn muffins, French bread or sourdough rolls for a hearty wintertime meal. Pair with a big red wine like cabernet sauvignon, malbec or zinfandel or a cabernet-merlot blend. Since you've sailed through the main dish, serve up a sweet dessert like apple pie or tart, cherry pie or yellow layer cake for a nice finish.

This bean dish also makes a great option to take to a potluck supper or tailgate. And it's easy to feed a crowd by making a bigger recipe. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) baked beans; drained but reserve liquid
  • 1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) lima beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard

How to Make It

  1. In a large and heavy skillet, cook the ground beef, bacon, and onion until the onion is translucent, the bacon is cooked and the beef is well-browned.
  2. Drain fat from the meat mixture.
  3. Put the beef, bacon and onion mixture; baked beans; kidney beans; lima beans; molasses; brown sugar; ketchup; and mustard into a slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 3 to 5 hours.
  1. Add the reserved juice from the baked beans as needed to thin the mixture throughout cooking.

Variations

  • Put the browned ground beef and bean mixture in a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 350 F for an hour.
  • Substitute pork and beans for the baked beans in this recipe. 
  • Add butter, cannellini, pinto, navy or great northern beans to the pot or a mixture of these.
  • Add a dash of white wine or cider vinegar to the mixture.
  • Omit the molasses and increase the brown sugar to 1 cup.
  • Add chopped celery, as desired.
  • Make a healthy vegetarian version and go meatless by omitting the ground beef and bacon and adding a different type of beans as a substitution.
  • Substitute ground pork sausage for the bacon; brown with the ground beef and onion or make the sausage an addition to the bacon and ground beef.
  • Use pork sausage as the only meat and season the pot with salsa and taco seasoning for a Mexican twist. Use baked beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lima beans and omit the ketchup, mustard, molasses and brown sugar.

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