Calico Beans

My sweet mom, who would insist until the day she dies that she doesn’t like to cook and yet manages to always be the source of some of the most amazing recipes (stop rolling your eyes, mom), is famous for these beans. She’s made them for years and if I remember right, she served them at my high school graduation little get together party shindig thingie that surely could not have been over 15 years ago. Pardon me while I go figure out how that could be the case when I still feel (act?) like I’m 18. That’s not all we had to eat at the big event of course. I think I also requested BBQ beef sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. Talk about super refined taste buds. Holy moly. Regardless, almost two decades later and I’m still loving on these beans.

Calico Beans

A medley of tender beans smother themselves in an easy, made-from-scratch BBQ-ish sauce and bake to serious flavor perfection. The entire dish takes just a few minutes to prep and they can either be baked in the oven or thrown in the slow cooker for a few hours. The finished, delectable beans aren’t quite as saucy as the traditional, creamy baked beans we all know and love, but they are delicious in their own kind of way.

Don’t even think of them as a classic baked bean dish. They’re calico beans: simple, tasty, flavorful. And I adore them. (PS: they are killer served with these chicken  or steak kebabs.)

Calico Beans

One Year Ago: Canning 101: Water Bath Basics
Two Years Ago: Creamy Peanut Butter Tart
Three Years Ago: BBQ Macaroni Salad

My Mom’s Famous Calico Beans

Yield: Serves 6

I use the Simply Heinz brand of ketchup - other brands may differ in flavor and sweetness so taste as you go to make sure it's spot on. Also, if you'd rather, the beans can be cooked in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours instead of in the oven.

I use a 3-quart baking dish for these beans which is a little smaller than a 9X13. If you are going to use a 9X13-inch, decrease the baking time slightly so the beans don't dry out since they'll be in a thinner layer.


  • 16 ounce can red pinto beans
  • 15 ounce can white kidney/cannellini beans
  • 15 ounce can black beans
  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water or low-sodium broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, helps thicken the sauce a bit)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish (see note above).
  2. Drain and rinse all the beans (go ahead and throw them all together in one colander) and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, leaving about 1 teaspoon grease in the skillet.
  4. Add the onion to the skillet over medium heat and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Off the heat, add the beans and bacon.
  5. In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine the ketchup, Worcestershire, dry mustard, sugar, salt, vinegar, water (or broth) and cornstarch, if using, and whisk to combine thoroughly. Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir well.
  6. Scrape the entire mixture into the prepared baking pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my mom’s recipe

27 Responses to My Mom’s Famous Calico Baked Beans

  1. Helen says:

    I made these for our BBQ last night and they were so yummy. I’ve been scratching my head since wondering why I had never made them before!! As a baked bean lover these should have been in my rotation for summer for years!! You always come thru for me Mel!! Happy Summer to you and yours!! Come to Cache Valley this summer … that would be amazing 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Mel,
    I love beans and my wife loves your website! Thanks for the awesome beans!!!

  3. Margo Murphy says:

    Can we freeze this recipe..making calico beans for 150!! Would like to start now with the meats & freeze..then freeze the sauce part..but can beans be frozen?? Also, can sauce be frozen separately? Thanks for your help, recipe sounds great!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Margo – unfortunately, I haven’t frozen this recipe so I can’t tell you for sure whether it would work. Do you have time to do a trial run of freezing to see?

  4. Jenny says:

    I made these for dinner tonight to go along with our dinner of hot dogs and brats (not your traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal for sure!). They were perfect! Exactly what I was hoping they’d be. Simple and not swimming in sauce and made with things I already have in my pantry/fridge. Thanks for another great recipe!

  5. Kat says:

    These beans are delicious! I did add the cornstarch and liked it that way. Definitely a keeper!

  6. Libby Wheeler says:

    I made these last weekend—-loved by everyone. I have been asked to double this and make it again for Labor Day weekend. Another son has reserved his request for a bake for his birthday in December. I followed the recipe exactly except I used turkey bacon due to my husband’s diet restrictions , he has had many stents placed and we are trying to avoid a bypass. It was very good !

  7. Renay says:

    I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long while, as in no can of pork ‘n beans! I made this tonight and boy was it delicious. I added a stalk of celery and a salsa pepper from my garden. Perfect! Just a little bit sweet and just a little bit spicy. I put it in the crockpot and made a pan of your cornbread. My kind of meal. Thanks to you and your mom!

  8. I love a good baked bean recipe. This falls in that category. Lots of nice flavors.
    I have the mix of beans and thus the title of the recipe. Perfect.

  9. Karen says:

    These look delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, can’t wait to try it.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Holy smokes – I made these Monday evening and have been having them for dinner and lunches this week. They are SOOOOOO good! One of my favorites of yours so far! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Megan Lavin says:

    Mel–my son can’t have mustard or Worcestershire sauce. Do you think these would still turn out simply omitting these, or would you recommend something as a substitute to make up for those flavors? I’ve been dying to have a baked bean side dish.

    • Mel says:

      Megan Lavin – Those ingredients definitely add to the flavor profile but maybe we could think of a sub that could come close. Remind me again what your son is allergic to? Can he have soy sauce or A-1 sauce?

  12. sarah says:

    Calico beans are one of my favorites! My mom would make them in the crock pot.

  13. Pat says:

    I cannot find the “note” referred to after ketchup in the list of ingredients

  14. Kim in MD says:

    Oh my…these beans are seriously drool worthy! Thanks to your Mom for sharing her recipe!

  15. sweetpea says:

    I never knew a 3-quart differed from a 9×13!!

  16. Jamie says:

    We made these tonight with BBQ ribs and your corn bread muffins… OH.MY.GOODNESS! So, so good!

  17. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today says:

    I’ve never made these. Need to try. Your mum is awesome!

  18. Heather says:

    Any thoughts on using dry beans for this? I am trying to shift away from the canned variety. I feel like I can always taste the metal :-/

  19. Stephanie says:

    Is it silly to say I’m so relieved there are no lima beans here? 🙂 I’ve seen similar recipes and get scared away when I see they have limas as one of the beans. I know I can substitute or omit but just the thought makes me want to run away in horror. I’m adding this to my “to try” list!

  20. Jen T says:

    We also make these with added ground beef and my family loves them! They are a classic!

  21. Cindy says:

    We make these but also add browned ground beef. Turns it into a main dish and we love it. Also reheats really well and the flavor just gets better and better. Thanks for the reminder. I need to make them NOW!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *