Home Recipes Calico Beans (Oven-Baked Recipe)

Calico Beans (Oven-Baked Recipe)

Calico beans are a hearty, flavorful dish simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce.

Packed with ground beef, bacon, pork, kidney beans, and bbq suace, they’re perfect for family gatherings, backyard parties, and weeknight meals.

Homemade sweet and savory calico beans with ground beef in a white casserole
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Calico Beans

They’re sweet and savory, like all good baked beans. But they’re also meaty and hearty. There’s so much going on in this recipe, it’s hard to decide what the best part is!

Calico beans are just about the best baked beans you’ll ever try.

It combines brown sugar, crunchy onions, BBQ sauce, beans, bacon, ground beef, and more! (See the full list of ingredients in the next section.)

They’re ridiculously flavorful, insanely hearty, and easy to make. All you have to do is cook the beef and bacon. Then, toss everything in a casserole dish and let the oven do its thing.

Also, fun fact: the name calico beans refers to the different colors of the beans in the dish.

Bowl of Ingredients for Calico Beans: Ground Beef, Bacon, Pork and Beans, Sugar, Chopped Onion and BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

The list of ingredients for this recipe is a little long, but it doesn’t contain anything outrageous. You may already have many of these items in your kitchen!

  • Ground beef and bacon – Plenty of “baked beans” recipes include ground beef, but this goes further. Adding both beef and bacon makes the beans super hearty and meaty. They also have a ton of flavor.
  • Pork and beans – You can’t find a good baked beans recipe without a pork and beans base. Pork and beans are the gold standard for baked beans.
  • The beans – Besides pork and beans, add kidney beans, butter beans, and lima beans to the casserole dish. Remember to drain the lima and kidney beans before adding them.
  • Brown sugar – Baked beans are known for their slightly sweet, rich flavor. That often comes from brown sugar, just as in this recipe.
  • Chopped onion – You can use a white, yellow, or red onion, depending on your tastes. Mince it finely so the pieces aren’t too large and overpowering.
  • BBQ sauce – Some calico bean recipes call for ketchup instead of BBQ sauce. Others list both in their ingredient lists. I think adding both ketchup and brown sugar makes the beans too sweet. I stick to my favorite barbecue sauce instead.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar in the beans. It just gives all the other ingredients a slight kick in the pants.
  • Mustard powder – It may seem like an odd choice, but trust me. It adds a delicious depth of flavor that beans without mustard powder can’t match. Be sure yours is fresh before adding it.
Meaty and hearty baked calico beans in a white casserole

How to Make Calico Beans

The steps for making calico beans are simple. They are as follows:

1. Preheat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cook the meat. Cook the ground bean and bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain.

3. Assemble the “casserole.” After draining the meat, transfer both the beef and bacon to a 4-quart casserole dish. Then, add all of the other ingredients and stir well.

4. Bake. Bake, covered, for about an hour. Then, remove the casserole dish from the heat and enjoy your delicious calico beans!

Tips for the Best Calico Beans

Want to ensure you have the tastiest calico beans possible? Follow these tips:

  • Get ahead of yourself. These beans taste best on day 2, so make them beforehand. Just let them cool completely. Then, transfer them to an air-tight container and refrigerate them. Reheat them slowly on the stove.
  • Thicken it up. You have two options for making the bean sauce a bit thicker. You can add a cornstarch slurry or simply bake the beans for slightly longer than directed.
  • Cook the meats separately. Some people like their bacon extra crispy or their ground beef just barely browned. If that’s the case, you may not be able to finish cooking both meats in the same period. It’s okay to cook one first, then the other.
Close-up view of calico beans with ground beef, bacon and mustard powder

Variations

Here are a few variations to try, as well:

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  • Make it a fix-it-and-forget-it dish. To make these beans in the slow cooker, follow the recipe card as written. Add them to your slow cooker instead of putting them in a casserole dish. Cook them for 3 hours on low, stirring halfway through.
  • Customize the ingredients. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef, or use different varieties of beans. Experiment with barbecue sauces, and add extra veggies, like celery or bell peppers. For a slightly sweeter dish, swap the BBQ sauce for ketchup.
  • Add a smoky finish. There are a few ways to achieve a smoky flavor in this dish. Start by using hickory smoked bacon and a smoky BBQ sauce. You can also add a few drops of Liquid Smoke into the recipe while it’s cooking.
  • Go vegetarian-friendly. Leave out the beef and bacon and add loads of veggies to make up the difference.

What to Serve with Calico Beans

Believe it or not, these beans are hearty enough to enjoy as a complete meal on their own. However, not everyone wants a single bean dish for dinner.

If that sounds like your family, serve the beans with any of the following:

You can also use the beans in a taco salad recipe. Pile them on your favorite corn or tortilla chips and load them down with your favorite toppings.

How to Store

If you have leftover calico beans, follow these steps to keep them fresh:

To Store: Place them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To Freeze: You can also freeze them in a freezer-safe container for 1 to 2 months.

To Reheat: Let the frozen beans thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving them. Heat them on the stove over medium heat. Add a little extra water if they seem dry.

Calico Beans (Oven-Baked Recipe)

Servings

8

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour

15

minutes
Calories

435

kcal

These Calico beans are guaranteed to satisfy! They’re packed with ground beef, bacon, pork and beans, lima beans, and kidney beans. Brown sugar gives them a sweet touch.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1/2 cup bacon, chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pork and beans

  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained

  • 1 (15-ounce) can butter beans

  • 1 (15-ounce) can lima beans, drained

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add the ground beef and bacon to a deep skillet. Cook it over medium-high heat until the bacon is cooked and the ground beef is evenly brown with no pink left.
  • Drain the skillet. Transfer the beef and bacon to a 4-quart casserole dish.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients to the casserole dish. Mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the casserole dish and bake in the oven for about 1 hour. The beans will be bubbly and warm throughout when ready.
Calico Beans

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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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