Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Beans – This easy baked beans recipe is hearty and flavorful with bacon and ground beef. It’s the ultimate side dish for all your casual gatherings!

a bowl of baked beans with bacon and ground beef

Sometimes all a dish needs is a fun name to get kids to try it. Such is the case with this recipe for Cowboy Beans



That was the common response from our oldest daughter when she was young, whenever baked beans were served. It didn’t matter how much bacon, ground beef, or brown sugar was added. Hatti wasn’t gonna try them. End of story.

But then, a few days after Hatti finished up third grade, our family took a road trip out west. To beautiful Custer State Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is where Hatti fell for the tasty baked beans side dish that our family now affectionately calls cowboy beans.

photo collage of chuckwagon dinner at Blue Bell Lodge - Custer State Park in South Dakota

Cowboy Beans

Our first family trip to the southwest corner of South Dakota was filled with nostalgia for me. I had visited that area many times as my sisters and I were growing up. At nearly every turn, I’d find myself smiling as I watched our own daughters enjoying this special place, just as I had.

We did try something new on this trip, though; something I hadn’t done when I was young. We went on a chuckwagon dinner ride.

I probably would not have even looked into it except my sister’s family had gone on one the year prior, and their whole family really liked it. So I signed us up. Family of four for the chuckwagon dinner at Blue Bell Lodge.

It was a real treat. There were people of all ages, simply looking for a little entertainment, some wildlife spotting, and of course, a good ol’ chuckwagon meal in a beautiful setting. We were not disappointed. The grub was delicious and plentiful. And the live country and bluegrass put an instant tap in your foot.

But I think the best thing that came from this little rendezvous was that Hatti tried baked beans for the first time. When I saw the beans on her plate I was perplexed and asked her if she was going to give the beans to her dad.

She replied, “No, they said they’re Cowboy Beans, so I wanted to try them.”

“COWBOY Beans”

That’s all it took. A fun name!  

And the bandana and cowboy hat she was wearing probably helped, too.

cowboy beans - a bowl of baked beans with bacon and ground beef

So now, when we serve baked beans at home, we call them “Cowboy Beans”. And Hatti eats them, willingly and happily, and doesn’t hesitate to ask for a second helping.  

bacon, ground beef, and onion in skillet - making cowboy beans

Cowboy beans recipe

I’ll admit; I always find baked beans more enticing when the dish is loaded with bacon and ground beef. So that’s exactly how this recipe starts out, with bacon, beef, and onion browned in a skillet.

cowboy beans - skillet of baked beans with bacon and ground beef

Then add a large can of Bush’s Baked Beans, some yellow mustard, a bit of brown sugar, and a healthy sprinkle of black pepper.

That’s it.

That’s all it takes to make a super tasty side dish of cowboy beans.

Looking for more side dishes for your gatherings? How about a basket of Honey Cornbread Muffins? Or my mom’s Refrigerator Sweet Pickles? Or this mustard-y Dill Pickle Potato Salad?!

Pin cowboy baked beans for later!

cowboy beans - bowl of baked beans with bacon and ground beef

A few summery side dishes I’d like to try:
Easy 5- Minute Parmesan Zucchini from FoodieCrush, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob from TidyMom, and Tomato Peach and Goat Cheese Salad from greens & chocolate.

Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Beans

Cowboy beans - this recipe is hearty and flavorful and ultra easy to make. It's the ultimate side dish for gatherings!

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can (28-oz.) Bush's Baked Beans "Original" recipe
  • 1 T. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


  1. In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, fry bacon until chewy-crisp. Remove from skillet to paper towel lined plate to cool. Drain fat from skillet.
  2. Return same skillet to medium to medium-high heat and add ground beef and onion. Cook until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat.
  3. Roughly chop the cooled bacon and add to skillet with beef and onion. Then add beans, yellow mustard, brown sugar, and black pepper. Fold to combine. Heat until warmed throughout. Serve hot.


adapted from Angela Johnson's recipe box, a recipe from her aunt

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1136mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 37g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

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bowl of cowboy beans - baked beans with bacon and ground beef

This post was originally published in 2010. Some of the photos and text were updated in 2019.

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