My husband introduced me to calico beans and sometimes I'm sorry he did. The only reason I say that is because they're my guilty pleasure. They're so good, it's hard to stop eating them. Calico beans are a great easy dish to make for a crowd or summer-time BBQ side dish. We've made them for parties and always are asked for the recipe, so here it is people, it's officially shared now with the world. The awesome thing about calico beans is they can be cooked in the oven, slow cooker, Instant Pot or pellet grill.
4 Ways to Cook Calico Beans
The beauty of a dish like Calico beans is that you can cook it multiple ways, using multiple cooking devices. Since Calico Beans are a great BBQ side dish, most likely you'd make it in the summer to accompany a BBQ protein. In this case you can cook it in a pellet grill, which serves as an outdoor stove or inside in an actual stove. You can also cook it in a slow cooker or Instant Pot if that's your preference. Honestly, it's whatever works best with your scenario. We all have different homes and kitchens with different preferences. That's why I thought it be best to give you these different cooking options.
- Pellet Grill- 350 degrees/60 total mins.
- Oven- 350 degrees/60 total mins.
- Slow Cooker/Crockpot- 4 Hours on High or 8 Hours on Low
- Instant Pot- 15 mins. on High Pressure, 10 mins. natural Release
Cooking on the Pellet Grill
Over the last couple years my favorite summer cooking method has been my husband's pellet grill. You can bake the calico beans just like you would in the oven, but in the pellet grill. Of course, I can only cook it this way if my husband's not using it already to cook something else. I love using the pellet grill, yes, shameless plug here because I hate cooking in a hot kitchen, so cooking it outside on our deck is a win-win for summer time cooking for me.
Main Ingredients for Calico Beans
- Ground Beef- I like to use 80/20 organic beef, but you can switch to your preference.
- Bacon- I prefer thick cut apple wood smoked bacon. To cook the bacon, my preference is to cook it using Natasha's Kitchen's method of making Oven-baked Bacon on parchment paper.
- Pork & Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Butter Beans
- Lima Beans
- Onions- I prefer sweet onions for Calico Beans, but any onion you have on hand will work as well.
- Celery- I love celery in Calico Beans, but some people are adversely against them, so think about the crowd you're cooking for. I think they're barely noticeable though, so most people don't even notice them.
- Ketchup- I like to use limited ingredient, organic ketchup.
- Brown Sugar- Brown sugar is the best for this type of BBQ-style dish of beans.
- Mustard Powder- If you don't have mustard powder, you can use about a tablespoon of yellow mustard instead.
- Vinegar- I prefer Apple Cider Vinegar for BBQ type dishes. It's a perfectly balanced sweet and tart vinegar, but if you don't have it you can substitute it with white wine vinegar.
AKA Cowboy Beans
Calico Beans are also known as cowboy beans and are pretty much the same thing. They are meaty, beefy with bacon and loads of colorful, varied in size beans. This dish is comforting and oh so satisfying. You might find yourself going in for seconds or thirds, so do beware.