Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans {Or Instant Pot!}

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A delicious easy-to-make recipe for Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans that can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish to other courses.

This is truly one of the best meals I’ve made in a long time. The flavor is wonderful and it’s truly a versatile dish. This would even be wonderful over a baked potato!

A frontal view of a white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans.

What Are Cowboy Beans?

Cowboy beans are a ground meat and beans dish. They are often enjoyed as a main course in colder months with a side of crusty garlic bread. But they can also be a hearty side dish at a summer cookout for other barbecued foods.

What’s The Difference Between Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans And Chili?

In texture, there isn’t much difference. It’s ground meat and beans, so the texture is essentially the same.

In flavor, they tend to differ. While chili can certainly be made like cowboy beans, cowboy beans usually have much heavier smoked and barbecue flavors.

Can Crock Pot Cowboy Beans Be Made In The Oven Instead?

If you happen to have a dutch oven, this is a great recipe for that! Just prep everything as mentioned in the recipe below, but you can sauté everything in the dutch oven and then just dump everything else in and bake it in the oven. While I haven’t tried it myself, I will guess that the temperature should be 400 F. and baking time will take about an hour, give or take.

A white bowl holds a wooden spoon and is filled to the top with this Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans Recipe.

Can Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans Be Made On The Stove Top Instead?

Absolutely! You may need to add a little bit of broth or water to keep things from drying out too much and you’ll want to stir this frequently to keep things from burning on the bottom of the pot. Especially if the bottom of your pot is thinner.

What To Serve With Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

As A Main Dish

Garnish with:

  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • sliced green onions
  • tortilla chips – crushed or whole
  • chopped avocado
  • chopped raw onions
  • grated cheese

As A Side Dish

Serve with:

  • barbecued chicken
  • steak
  • pork chops
  • baked potatoes – as a side dish or ladled over the top of your baked potato
  • Grilled veggies
  • Garlic bread
  • Green salad
And overhead view of a white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans.

What Goes Into Cowboy Beans?

Note: I mention a few brand names in this recipe. I was not paid to promote any of them. I’m simply sharing the brands I used to make this recipe.

Ground turkey – You can also use ground beef or pork or any combination thereof.

Bacon – Cooked to package directions. Do not overcook. I used turkey bacon.

Onions – I used red onions, but yellow or white onions will work well too.

Red bell pepper – You can use any color, I just prefer the sweetness of red peppers.

Garlic cloves – Choose large cloves and either mince or press them.

Unprocessed granular sweetener – You can use Sucanat, coconut sugar, or monk fruit. I used brown xylitol because it works best for my blood sugar. It’s processed, but it’s what’s best for me. Honey or maple syrup can work too, but you’ll want to add these to taste after cooking. Maple syrup is preferable over honey in this recipe.

Canned pinto beans – No sugar added.

Canned kidney beans – No sugar added.

Canned white beans – No sugar added.

Ketchup – no sugar added. I used Primal Kitchen Ketchup, but if you can’t find any clean ketchup at the store, you can make your own at home with this ketchup recipe.

Barbecue sauce – I used Nature’s Hallow BBQ sauce. Another great brand that is clean is Bone Suckin’ Sauce (the original, not the other flavors). You can also make your own barbecue sauce using this barbecue sauce recipe here.

Yellow mustard – no sugar added.

Balsamic vinegar – No flavors or added sugar.

Smoked paprika – Regular paprika will work if that’s all you have, but you’ll miss out on that wonderful smoky flavor. Liquid smoke is an option if you don’t have smoked paprika. Add to taste after cooking.

How To Make Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

Chopping a purple onion.
Chopping a red bell pepper.

Chop the onions and bell peppers into small pieces.

Browning ground meat in a skillet.

Brown the meat in a large skillet. You do not have to fully cook this. Then transfer to a holding bowl or plate.

Sautéing bell peppers and onions in a skillet.

In the same skillet, sauté the onions and bell peppers.

Pressing garlic into a skillet of chopped red peppers and onions.

In the last minute of cooking, press the garlic into the veggies and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Three different types of beans emptied into a slow cooker crock.

To your slow cooker crock or Instant Pot insert, add all three of the beans, including the liquid.

Ketchup, barbecue sauce and browned meat added to beans in a crock.

Add the barbecue sauce and ketchup.

Yellow mustard, smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar added to beans in a crock.

Add the sweetener, mustard, paprika and balsamic vinegar.

Stirring sautéd vegetables into Cowboy Beans ingredients in a crock.

Add the sautéd veggie mix.

Chopped bacon on a cutting board.

Chop bacon that has been cooked to just barely done.

Chopped bacon added to all the other Cowboy Beans Recipe ingredients in a crock.

Stir the bacon in.

Slow cook on low for 4-6 hours, or pressure cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans and holding a wood spoon.

Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

How To Make Instant Pot Cowboy Beans

Follow all the directions in the recipe, but instead of placing everything into a slow cooker, you’ll put it into your Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes.

Recipe Supplies

You’ll need either a slow cooker or an Instant pot along with a good cutting board and a sharp knife. You can click any of these images to be taken to that product on Amazon. (Affiliate links)

Slow cooker sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Instant Pot sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Walnut cutting board sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Chef knife sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

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And overhead view of a white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans Recipe

A delicious meat and bean recipe you can enjoy as a main course or as a side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 9 servings
Calories: 407kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker OR
  • 1 Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ½ lb. bacon (coked to package directions – do not overcook!)
  • cup chopped onions
  • cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves (either minced or pressed.)
  • ¼ cup unprocessed granular sweetener (You can use Sucanat, coconut sugar, or monk fruit. I used brown xylitol because it works best for my blood sugar. It's processed, but it's what's best for me. Honey or maple syrup can work too, but you'll want to add these to taste after cooking. Maple syrup is preferable over honey in this recipe.)
  • 15 oz. canned pinto beans (do not rinse or drain)
  • 15 oz. canned kidney beans (do not rinse or drain)
  • 15 oz. cannellini beans (do not rinse or drain)
  • 1 cup ketchup (no sugar added. I used Primal Kitchen Ketchup, but if you can't find any clean ketchup at the store, you can make your own at home. See recipe linked in post above.)
  • cup barbecue sauce ( I used Nature's Hallow BBQ sauce. Another great brand that is clean is Bone Suckin' Sauce (the original, not the other flavors). You can also make your own barbecue sauce. See recipe linked in post above.)
  • 2 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard (no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Chop the onions and bell peppers into small pieces.
    Chopping a red bell pepper.
  • Brown the meat. You do not have to fully cook this. Then transfer to a holding bowl or plate.
    Browning ground meat in a skillet.
  • In the same skillet, sauté the onions and bell peppers.
    Sautéing bell peppers and onions in a skillet.
  • In the last minute of cooking, press the garlic into the veggies and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
    Pressing garlic into a skillet of chopped red peppers and onions.
  • To your slow cooker crock or Instant Pot insert, add all three of the beans, including the liquid.
    Three different types of beans emptied into a slow cooker crock.
  • Add the barbecue sauce and ketchup.
    Ketchup, barbecue sauce and browned meat added to beans in a crock.
  • Add the sweetener, mustard, paprika, and balsamic vinegar.
    Yellow mustard, smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar added to beans in a crock.
  • Add the sautéd veggie mix.
    Stirring sautéd vegetables into Cowboy Beans ingredients in a crock.
  • Chop bacon that has been cooked to just barely done.
    Chopped bacon on a cutting board.
  • Stir the bacon in.
    Chopped bacon added to all the other Cowboy Beans Recipe ingredients in a crock.
  • Slow cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Or pressure cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy with your favorite toppings.
    An overhead view of a white bowl filled with Cowboy Beans and holding a wood spoon.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 1642mg | Potassium: 794mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1402IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 4mg

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I'm Tiffany, a cookbook author, food lover, mom, and writer for MSN and the AP Newswire.
   
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