Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans (Reduced Sugar Recipe)

Part main entree and part side dish, these Cowboy Beans made in the crock pot are a simple and satisfying addition to any potluck, backyard barbecue, or summer cookout.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans 6

One dish with many variations

Go ahead, search the internet for ’cowboy beans’. We bet you’ll find as many variations in the sauce and type of beans as there are hairs on your head. Everyone has their own take on this crowd-pleasing dish so what makes ours so special?

For starters our variation calls for a homemade barbecue sauce simply made with ketchup, mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, and a handful of spice which is an easy way to cut back on the sugar found in many other recipes. We also use pinto beans, cannellini beans, and black eyed peas instead of lima beans or butter beans but to be totally honest, it’s delicious when made with just about any kind of beans so don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand in the pantry. For substitutions, see the ingredients listed below.

the real food dietitians the real food table 9781982178352 hr 5

Yes, We Have a Cookbook!

The Real Food Table includes more than 100 easy and delicious mostly gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free recipes for every day.

Buy Now

Main entree or side dish? You decide!

Adding meat to your cowboy beans bumps up the protein and makes this recipe suitable for serving either as a main entree hearty or side dish that’s perfect for a summer cookout or year-round gathering.

To serve as a main dish, try pairing it with a simple coleslaw, our Creamy Broccoli Slaw, sauteed greens or roasted broccoli or green beans.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans 8

Ingredient for cowboy beans

  • Ground beef – We use lean ground beef (90/10 or 93/7) but ground turkey, chicken, or pork will also work.
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper – Any color will do
  • Bacon – Choose your favorite bacon for this recipe. We love uncured, applewood smoked bacon or peppered bacon for this cowboy beans recipe.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Pinto beans – One of the most popular and easy-to-find beans, pinto beans, like all beans, are a good source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber and healthy carbohydrates. If you’re watching your sodium intake, look for cans labeled ”No added salt” or cook your beans from scratch on the stove top using dried beans
  • Cannellini beans – These large white beans are sometimes called ’white kidney beans. Black beans will also work. Cannellini beans, like navy beans, are a good source of calcium
  • Black eyed peas – Despite their name, these are actually a kind of bean. Other popular names for black-eyed peans include ‘cow peas’ or ’goat peas’. If you can’t find canned black eyed peas, you can substitute navy beans or butter beans
  • Ketchup – Use unsweetened ketchup such as Primal Kitchen to make this recipe refined sugar-free
  • Water – May use broth for more flavor. For saucier beans, use a little more water or broth
  • Maple syrup – We’ve swapped out the usual brown sugar for a maple syrup to give this dish a bit of sweetness and maple flavor that plays well with the smoky bacon
  • Dijon mustard – May use spicy brown mustard or yellow mustard, if desired
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Smoked paprika – This helps bump up that smoky flavor but you can substitute chili powder if that’s what you have on hand. If you want even more smoky flavor, try adding a few drops of liquid smoke
  • Fine salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley – optional, for garnish

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans 1

How to make Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

  1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the skillet with cooking spray. Add ground beef and break it up using a large spoon or spatula. Cook meat for 3 minutes then add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Stir. Continue to cook 7-8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and the onions start to soften.
  2. Add the meat mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and return to medium-high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray then add chopped bacon. Cook 8-10 minutes or until crispy, stirring occasionally.
  4. When bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess fat. Add cooked bacon to the slow cooker.
  5. To the slow cooker, add the beans (be sure to drain and rinse them first), ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours (or 2 hours on high).
  7. Before serving, stir then taste and season with additional salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley as desired.

Crockpot Cowboy Baked Beans FAQ

  • How far in advance can I prepare these slow cooker cowboy beans? You can prepare the beans up to 3 days in advance and store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to reheat and eat. They can also be frozen up to 6 months for longer storage.
  • Can I make these sugar-free? While we’ve done our best to reduce the sugar as much as possible, we don’t recommend omitting the maple syrup. It lends a nice sweetness and balances the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar. Using an unsweetened ketchup such as Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup will help keep the sugar content super low.
  • How do I reheat cowboy beans once they are cooked? To reheat a few portions, place the desired amount in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high power for 60 to 90 seconds, stirring halfway through, or until heated through. To reheat the entire batch, transfer the cowboy beans back to the slow cooker. Add 1/4 cup water or broth and heat on low for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until heated through. Add additional liquid as needed.

More BBQ-Ready Sides You’ll Love!

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans 7

Tip!

Get Saucier Beans!

To take these thick and chunky Cowboy Beans to saucy perfection, simply add more broth (or water). They’ll be the perfect backyard barbecue addition everyone is sure to love!

Overhead view of slow cooker cowboy beans in a white bowl with a spoon.

Recipe

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans (Reduced Sugar Recipe)

A must for any backyard barbecue, these Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans are made with three types of beans, ground beef, and with our reduced-sugar sauce making them a great addition to your menu.

Prep: 10 minsCook: 4 hours, 20 minsTotal: 4 hours, 30 mins

Servings: Serves 12 1x

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced (any color)
  • 12 ounces uncooked bacon, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (may substitute kidney beans)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black eyed peas or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water or broth
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (may substitute chili powder)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
  • Optional for serving: fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the skillet with cooking spray. Add ground beef and break it up using a large spoon or spatula. Cook meat for 3 minutes then add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Stir. Continue to cook 7-8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and the onions start to soften.
  2. Add the meat mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and return to medium-high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray then add chopped bacon. Cook 8-10 minutes or until crispy, stirring occasionally.
  4. When bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess fat. Add cooked bacon to the slow cooker.
  5. To the slow cooker, add the beans, ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours (or 2 hours on high).
  7. Before serving, stir then taste and season with additional salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley as desired.

Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive so we can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.

Dietary

© The Real Food Dietitians

/*h3{flex:0 0 100%}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card{flex:0 0 50%;padding:1.5rem 1rem;text-align:center}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card{flex:0 0 33%}}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card p{font-size:1em;font-weight:700;margin-bottom:0}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card p a{color:initial}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card span{font-size:.9em}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition ul{list-style-type:none;margin:0;padding:0}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition ul:after{clear:both;content:” “;display:block}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition li{float:left;list-style-type:none;margin-bottom:0;margin-left:0;margin-right:16px}.tasty-recipes-plug{align-items:center;display:flex;flex-wrap:wrap;justify-content:center;margin-bottom:1em;text-align:center}.tasty-recipes-plug a{box-shadow:none;text-decoration:none}.tasty-recipes-plug a img{display:inline-block;height:auto;margin:5px 0 0 8px;width:150px}.tasty-recipes-footer-content{padding:1.5em;text-align:center}.tasty-recipes-footer-content .tasty-recipes-footer-copy{margin-left:0}.tasty-recipes-footer-content img,.tasty-recipes-footer-content svg{width:60px}.tasty-recipes-entry-content .tasty-recipes-entry-footer h3{font-size:1.25em;margin:0 0 .25em;padding:0}.tasty-recipes-entry-footer p{font-size:.75em;margin:0}.tasty-recipes-entry-footer p a{border-bottom:none;box-shadow:none;text-decoration:underline}.tasty-recipes-flash-message{background-color:#fff;border-radius:4px;box-shadow:0 .3px .4px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.024),0 .9px 1.5px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.05),0 3.5px 6px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.1);color:#313135;display:inline-block;font-size:13px;letter-spacing:0;line-height:1.2em;margin-left:10px;padding:4px 10px}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-flash-message{padding:4px 10px}}.tasty-recipes-flash-message p{margin:0;padding:0;text-transform:none}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-footer-content{align-items:center;display:flex;justify-content:center;padding:1.5em 0;text-align:left}.tasty-recipes-footer-content .tasty-recipes-footer-copy{margin-left:.8em}}@media print{.tasty-recipes-no-print,.tasty-recipes-no-print *{display:none!important}}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox]{cursor:pointer;list-style-position:outside;list-style-type:none!important;margin-left:0!important}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container{position:relative}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]+label{display:inline-block;position:relative;vertical-align:middle}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]{clip:rect(1px 1px 1px 1px);clip:rect(1px,1px,1px,1px);height:1px;overflow:hidden;position:absolute!important;width:1px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]+label:before{border:1px solid;border-radius:2px;content:””;display:inline-block;height:20px;margin-right:10px;position:relative;width:20px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]:checked+label:after{border-bottom:2px solid;border-left:2px solid;content:””;display:inline-block;height:6px;left:4px;position:absolute;top:4px;transform:rotate(-45deg);width:12px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]:focus+label:before{box-shadow:0 0 8px #5e9ed6;outline:1px solid #5d9dd5}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox=checked]{opacity:.8;text-decoration:line-through}
/*]]>*/

Pin It Now To Make It Later!

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans 1000 %C3%97 1500 px


All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel of Half Acre House

You May Also Like