My Mom’s Famous Calico Baked Beans

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

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My Mom’s Famous Calico Beans

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Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  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.

Notes:

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.

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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my mom’s recipe