Calico Beans are a classic side dish that can be found served at barbecues, family gatherings and potlucks. Made with a variety of different beans, it's further seasoned with both ground beef and bacon. The flavorful ingredients in the sweet and tangy sauce give it a zesty smoky edge that goes well with a variety of entrees from sloppy joes to grilled hot dogs, chicken, hamburgers, pork, steaks and more.
Calico beans are one of those hearty casseroles that can serve as both as a side dish or an entree. It's almost always found in some form at church and office potlucks as well as casual barbecues here in the South. That said, it's not limited to only warm weather. These beans make a tasty frugal entree and are simply delicious ladled over a piece of hot buttered honey cornbread with a little green onion, hillbilly cole slaw or chow chow on top. When serving them that way, they transform into a stick-to-your ribs kind of meal.
Simple Ingredients Combine Into Spectacular Flavors
Calico beans recipes vary in ingredients and seasonings. Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list, this recipe calls for ingredients you likely already have stocked in your pantry. If you prefer a different combination of beans, there's room to adapt to your taste. I've also included the cooking times for making these beans in your slow cooker. Serve them as a side dish or turn them into an entire meal, either way, you can't go wrong. You may also like to try this Lima Bean Casserole from Spicy Southern Kitchen.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- 8 oz sliced bacon
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 16 oz cans pork and beans
- 2 16 oz cans light red kidney beans drained
- 1 16 oz can baby lima beans drained
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 2 tsp dark chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 3 Tbsp drippings in pan.
- Add the diced onion to the pot and cook for 2 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the ground beef. Add seasoned salt and black pepper. Cook until no pink remains in the ground beef. Drain any excess fat from the pan before adding to the bean mixture. Remove from the heat.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the cooked ground beef and onions along with crumbled bacon. Mix well. (May reserve some bacon to sprinkle on top, if desired.)
- Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly around the edges. Stir before serving.