This post may contain affiliate links, please see the privacy policy for details.

The delicious and hearty dish known fondly as slow cooker cowboy beans is something you’ll want to make every week once you’ve tasted how good they are. Beef is paired with bacon, sausage, and 3 different types of beans. Whether you’re feeding a hungry family or a crowd, meal prepping, or you simply can’t resist the tangy, spicy appeal of cowboy beans, this is the recipe for you.

A bowl of slow cooker cowboy beans containing beans, ground meat, and spices, garnished with cilantro, lime slices, and jalapeño peppers.

Slow cooker cowboy beans are a great option for a tailgate party, cookout or cozy family dinner. Slow cooking coaxes out all the flavor of the meat and the beans come out so tasty.

If you want to try more recipes using beans, you might also enjoy spinach red bean shakshuka, ham and cannellini bean soup, or tuna and white bean salad. These cowboy sliders and cowboy beef and rice are great too.

A bowl of Crockpot cowboy beans topped with lime slices and jalapeno with a spoon placed inside. Another similar bowl is partially visible in the background.

Why You’ll Love It

Tasty: The combination of meat, beans, and 3 kinds of beans means this is a delicious dish nobody will be able to resist!
Hearty: This cowboy beans dish makes a filling meal for any occasion. It can also be served in smaller portions as a side dish or buffet style if you’re making other things too.
Easy: There’s nothing hard about making crockpot cowboy beans, and using canned beans makes the recipe easier still.

A bowl of hearty cowboy beans (looks similar to chili) containing beans, three meats, and garnished with slices of jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. Additional bowls of chili and lime wedges are visible in the background.

Crockpot Cowboy Beans Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below

Meat: You don’t get many vegan cowboys and this recipe is definitely aimed at diehard carnivores, boasting bacon, ground beef and sausage too, for plenty of meatiness. You can mix these up in any quantities or omit one and use more of another.
Beans: I use baked beans, kidney beans and black beans in this dish, but you could swap the black beans for another kind if you prefer, maybe pinto beans or cannellini beans.
BBQ sauce: The strong, smoky and sweet flavor of this pairs so beautifully with the flavor of the meat and beans. You can use any brand or variety you like, although the smoky sauces are especially good.
Chili powder: A touch of spice is great in this crockpot beans recipe. Feel free to sub chipotle powder or even a splash of hot sauce.
Brown sugar: This sweetens the recipe. If your barbeque sauce is really sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar.
Apple cider vinegar: Without this contrasting flavor, the cowboy beans would be too sweet. Feel free to sub a splash of white or even red vinegar instead.

Ingredients for a Tex-Mex cowboy chili recipe, including ground meat, bacon strips, chopped onions, canned beans, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, garlic, mustard, honey, and chili powder. For a heartier twist on cowboy cooking, try this in your slow cooker to create delicious slow cooker cowboy beans.

How to Make Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card

Prepare the bacon: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the bacon in a foil-lined baking dish for 20 minutes, then chop into 1-inch pieces.
Brown the meat: Sauté the beef and sausage with the onion and garlic in a pan over a medium heat and drain off the grease.
Slow cook the cowboy beans: Transfer the beef mixture into a crockpot (this is the one I use!) Add the bacon and all the other ingredients, and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.

A slow cooker filled with hearty cowboy meat and bean chili, with a wooden spoon lifting a portion. Sliced bread, green onions, cut jalapeños, and spoons are in the background, evoking the warmth of cowboy beans around a campfire.

Substitutions and Variations

Different beans: Pinto beans, lima beans, great northern beans, butter beans, and most others would work in this recipe. Canned beans (see benefits) are easier than cooking dried beans.
Change up the meats: This recipe calls for 3 pounds of meat but you can use anything you want.
Less sugar: You can use brown Swerve instead of brown sugar if you prefer to use an artificial sweetener. If that’s the case, make sure you’re using sugar-free barbecue sauce too.

A close-up of a slow cooker filled with hearty beans and ground meat chili.

Serving Suggestions

Appetizers: Enjoy a Mexican corn and kale salad or perhaps some garlic bread before serving the cowboy beans. Shrimp ceviche is another tasty appetizer.
Side dishes:
This Tex-Mex chicken pasta salad pairs well with the beans.
Dessert: If you have room left for dessert (you might not!) consider Mexican rice pudding or candy shots!

Bowls of Tex-Mex inspired cowboy beans topped with sliced jalapeños and lime wedges, surrounded by lime slices and a spoon on a white background.

How to Store Cowboy Beans

Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freeze: You can freeze portions of this for up to 3 months.
Thaw: Overnight in the refrigerator is the best defrosting method.
Reheat: Heat back up in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.

Three bowls of cowboy beans garnished with lime slices, jalapenos, and cilantro sit on a table alongside sliced bread, lime wedges, and a white slow cooker in the background.

Top Tips

Cooking the bacon: You can chop the bacon and then sauté it if you prefer, or broil it. You can even air fry it if you want.
Keep those bacon drippings: Don’t discard the grease that comes off the bacon. Add it to the beans for a rich flavor.
Finetune the flavor: This is quite a sweet dish. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you might like to decrease the amount of sugar or make sure to use a barbecue sauce that’s more spicy and smoky than sweet.

A close-up of a spoonful of slow cooker cowboy beans being held above a bowl filled with the same hearty dish, garnished with lime slices.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans FAQs

Can you make this with dried beans instead of canned?

Yes, but these can take a long time to cook. If you don’t mind, just cook the beans before continuing with the recipe.

Is this recipe spicy?

That’s up to you. If you buy a readymade bean side dish, you pretty much have to accept whatever spice level it has unless you zing it up with hot sauce. Making your own offers a lot more scope for tweaking though, and you can make this as spicy or as mild as you wish. If you’re making this for a crowd, make it mild and offer hot sauce on the side so everyone can spice up their own if they want to.

Is there a vegetarian version?

This recipe is delicious made with meat but if you aren’t a meat-eater, you can sub vegetables (meaty ones like portobello mushrooms perhaps) or your favorite vegetarian protein.

A slow cooker filled with cowboy chili containing chunks of meat,  and three kinds of beans. A wooden spoon is resting inside the cooker. Two pieces of cornbread are visible in the background.

Crockpot Cowboy Beans Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Slow cooker cowboy beans are a great option for a tailgate party, cookout or cozy family dinner. Slow cooking coaxes out all the flavor of the meat and the beans come out so tasty.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 18

Ingredients 

  • 1 Pound bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, large, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 Pound ground beef
  • 1 Pound sausage
  • 3 Cans baked beans, 16-ounce cans, not drained
  • 2 Cans kidney beans, 16-ounce cans, drained
  • 2 Cans black beans, 16-ounce cans, drained
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a large pan with tinfoil and lay the bacon in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces.
  • In a large pan cook the onion, garlic, beef and sausage until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease from the meat.
  • Add all the beans, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, chili powder, and mustard to a slow cooker, then add the meat and stir to combine.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.

Notes

Cooking the bacon: You can chop the bacon and then sauté it if you prefer, or broil it. You can even air fry it if you want.
Keep those bacon drippings: Don’t discard the grease that comes off the bacon. Add it to the beans for a rich flavor.
Finetune the flavor: This is quite a sweet dish. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you might like to decrease the amount of sugar or make sure to use a barbecue sauce that’s more spicy and smoky than sweet.

Nutrition

Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 954mg | Potassium: 815mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 189IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This hearty, meaty slow cooker beans recipe is so delicious. It’s an easy dish to prepare in a slow cooker and it’s bursting with sweet, tangy barbecue flavors along with beans which are satisfying and tasty. Enjoy this as a side dish or main dish. It freezes beautifully so it’s worth doubling up or even tripling the recipe if you’re into meal prepping. You can use any meats you want, any kinds of beans and choose the sweetness and spice levels, to make this a perfect fit for your palate.

Other Recipes to Try

Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

You Might Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating