Kelly’s Calico Beans

I remember the time she was born, just like it was yesterday, when we received a letter a good week after her arrival in the world.  She was born a month and 4 days after Bill and I married, while we were living in Oberheid, Germany when Bill was serving in the Army.   We were used to letters with more than week old news and were thrilled to get them no matter. 

I’m talking about our sweet niece, Kelly; the daughter of Bill’s brother.  Kelly’s charming and funny and spunky.  She’s a fast thinker with the right words to say and most important of all, she has a warm, caring heart.

Kelly, almost 4

Kelly and her husband, Jim,  are the proud parents of two boys ~ one in his second year at the University of Pittsburgh and their little guy is 7 years old; a second-grader this fall.  So Kelly knows her way around sports and the kitchen too.  And to prove it, among other things she cooks a mean bean dish.

I’m a great fan of baked beans, really any kind of beans and this recipe turns baked beans into an impressive full-flavored side dish.  Kelly adds more bacon, usually a pound and said that the easy way to cook them is in a slow cooker, so that’s what I did.  The recipe calls for 4 types of beans:  1 can each of Great Northern, butter and kidney beans, plus 2 cans of pork ‘n beans. 

Like she told me, about any type of bean can be used so I swapped Pinto beans and mayocoba beans for the butter beans and kidney beans because I know some people who swear they don’t like butter beans or kidney beans.  What they don’t know is that the medium-sized, ivory-yellow mayacoba beans are a meaty bean with a mild-flavored buttery taste.

What makes this dish unique is the addition of not only salty smoky bacon, but browned ground beef.  Then, when they’re combined with the beans and the tangy sweet sauce you have a delicious side dish for your family or a crowd.  They go quickly and that can be good but, bad too because they are just as delicious left-over!  Just ask Bill ~ he said they’re the best!

Calico Beans


½-1 pound bacon
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (16 ounces) pork ‘n beans
1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) mayocoba beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
½ to ¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard


In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain well and crumble into large pieces.
In the same skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain.
Combine the beef mixture, bacon, beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and mustard.
Spoon into a greased 2-qt. baking dish or slow cooker.
Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 45-60 minutes or until the beans are as thick as desired.
Or, cook for 4-5 hours on low in slow cooker.
About 12 servings

There’s nothing like a big pot of doctored up beans! 

Thanks again for the recipe, Kelly!

Be sure to visit my friend, Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes.  She’s having a Double Giveaway now!


  1. This looks delicious--and, a meal in itself. Thanks Pam and Kelly!


  2. Que interesante receta,excelente.


  3. We have been grilling out a lot this summer. These look perfect for a dinner

  4. Bonnie, it's a meal for me and it's really good!

    jose manuel, gracias! Es delicioso y muy facil.

  5. BigBearswife, this will make a great side dish for your grilling!

  6. Mayocoba beans? A mystery to me. Never seen them in the store. I love this melange of beans and bacon and beef.

  7. What a fantastic meal, love the idea of this. Diane

  8. I've never heard of Calico Beans before. Sounds fantastic though! Must try!

  9. I must send this to my mom, she loves dishes like this.

  10. I have never added ground beef to my beans before. My husband will be in heaven with the bacon and beef added to them.

  11. I know my family would love these beans. This would be delicious with some barbecued ribs. I especially like using a variety of beans.

  12. This would be perfect for a backyard bbq!

  13. What lovely memories Pam, thank you for sharing :-)


  14. The perfect accompaniment to all things bbq!

  15. Pam, This bean recipe sounds great! Lots of flavors and texture... A variation on standard baked beans for our home recipe file. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  16. Thanks to all of you and I hope you give this a try!

  17. These beans look "out of this world" good! Love all of the ingredients and I can't wait to try them! Thanks!


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