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Calico Beans: Beef, Bacon, Bean Casserole

Calico Beans; This hearty ground beef, bacon, and bean casserole bubbles away in a delicious barbecue sauce while you spend your day enjoying the fall weather. It can be prepared in the oven or slow-cooker! Yes, the recipe makes quite a bit, but it freezes and reheats beautifully, so dive right in and enjoy!
Author Rebecca Lindamood


For the Sauce (Optional: Can replace homemade sauce with 3 cups of purchased Barbecue Sauce):

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke tasty but optional.
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced or pressed
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Casserole:

  • 1 batch barbecue sauce Homemade or purchased Barbecue Sauce
  • 2 pounds of sliced bacon
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef venison, or elk
  • 1 small onion or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 cups Butter beans or 3 cans drained
  • 6 cups kidney beans or 3 cans with liquid
  • 4 cups pork and beans or 2 cans with liquid


To Make the Sauce:

  • Stir all of the sauce ingredients together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Stir frequently until the mixture reaches a boil. Boil for one minute, remove from the heat and set aside.

To Make the Casserole:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Stack the two pounds of bacon and cut across the slices making 1/2-inch wide strips. In a large skillet, fry the bacon, stirring frequently, until crisp and brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain the bacon grease from the pan (preferably into a jar and in the refrigerator for adding flavour to other dishes!)
  • Put the pan back over medium high heat and break up the ground beef into it. If using the onion, add it at this point. Continue breaking it up with a spoon as you cook it until the beef is browned. If necessary, drain any excess fat away from the meat. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sauce, beef, bacon, and beans until well combined.

To Bake:

  • Divide the mixture between a 9-inch by 13-inch by 2-inch pan and an 8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch square pan. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until very bubbly and hot all the way through.

To Make in the Slow-Cooker:

  • Spray the bowl of a slow-cooker crock insert with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the insert, cover, and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or until very bubbly and hot all the way through.
  • Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator or divide into individual meal sized portions and freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Reheat with a dash of water in a covered saucepan or in the microwave.