Calico Beans

Our Calico Beans make a hearty side with a colorful combination of ground beef, bacon and four types of beans.

With the first bite you’ll think you’re eating regular baked beans. By the second bite you realize there’s a slight fresh flavor from the lima beans and celery that makes this old fashioned favorite unique.

Hearty calico beans with ground beef, bacon and a colorful variety of beans in a baking dish on a red and beige napkin.

Calico Baked Beans Recipe

Incorporating green Lima beans adds a subtle twist of garden fresh flavor that varies a bit from the other more traditional beans in this recipe. The same neighbor that shared her Cowboy Baked Beans also shared her Grandma’s Calico Bean Casserole and we’re grateful!

Calico fabric and calico cats have patches of varying colors – that’s the best way to describe this Calico Bean recipe. Using a variety of green Lima beans, white butter beans, deep red kidney beans and brown pork and beans gives the side dish a patch work look.

Colorful spoonful of grandma's calico beans over top of the dish full.

Oven, Slow Cooker or Electric Roaster

These old-fashioned Calico Beans can simmer and become tender in the oven for an hour, in a crock pot on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 4 – 6 hours.

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We cooked a quadrupled batch of Calico Baked Beans for more than 100 people in an electric roaster at 350℉ for 3 hours.

Serving spoon lifting a scoop of meaty calico bean casserole in a large baking dish with a patchwork color and a variety of beans.

Whether it’s our recipe or my friend Kelsey’s, Baked Beans are perfect Party Food for Feeding a Crowd because they hold so well on keep warm. Just stir every half hour and the beans will taste great in a buffet line or at an open house.

Ingredients Needed and Substitutions:

  • Bacon – I typically use 1/2 a pound
  • Ground Beef – We prefer lean beef
  • Pork and Beans – A can of seasoned baked beans
  • Kidney Beans – Fully or partially drained, but we do not rinse
  • Butter Beans – A larger white bean that can be tricky to find, our local IGA carries a wide variety and stocks both regular and baby butter beans. The baby version is smaller and blends better with the other beans.
  • Lima Beans – Green colored beans will typically be with the cans of green veggies instead of the other beans.
  • Ketchup
  • Brown Sugar – The original recipe calls for 1 cup, but we prefer 1/3 or 1/2 a cup.
  • Onion – A common white or yellow onion works great.
  • White Wine Vinegar – While distilled white vinegar can be substituted we prefer the white wine vinegar.
  • Celery – Compliments the lima beans with a little more green flavor, chop finely or put in a food processor.
  • Mustard Powder – A generous squirt of yellow mustard works fine too.
Ingredients needed to make calico beans are lima beans, butter beans, kidney beans, pork and beans, onion, celery, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard powder, ground beef, bacon and white wine vinegar on a wooden counter top.

How To Make Calico Beans

Begin by browning the ground beef and draining the meat. Then fry the bacon and drain the fat.

While the meat is cooking chop the onion and celery.

Open all of those cans of beans. Drain the lima beans and kidney beans.

Bowl with cans of kidney beans, lima beans, pork and beans and butter beans with ground beef, bacon, brown sugar, celery, onion, ketchup and dry mustard in sections.

Pour the beans into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

Add all other remaining ingredients and stir well.

Spatula stirring together calico beans to prep for a slow cooker.

Pour into a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350℉ for an hour.

Calico Beans For A Crowd

We made this recipe for a neighbor’s graduation party. They expected 200 people so we quadrupled the recipe. The calico bean casserole was very popular and we could have multiplied the recipe by 5 or 6.

Using a foil liner in the electric roasters made clean-up so much easier!

Cook at 350℉ in the electric roaster for 3 to 4 hours and stir every 30 minutes. Turn to keep warm while serving and enjoy!

Electric roaster full of calico beans for a crowd with a serving spoon in it.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • For a thicker bean mixture the kidney, butter and lima beans can be fully drained. In our Crock Pot Baked Beans we do not drain any of the beans and that recipe is also delicious. So whether the beans get drained is not a critical issue.
  • If doubling or tripling the recipe make sure to allow plenty of time to open all the cans!
  • To prep ahead of time, brown the beef, cook and crumble the bacon, then refrigerate these items. The onion and celery can also be chopped and refrigerated 2 to 4 days ahead of time.
  • If you are careful stirring everything can be mixed in the 4 quart or 9 x 13″ baking dish. Make sure not to splash beans too far up the sides or over the edges. I prefer to use a large mixing bowl.
Overhead view of warm, delicious and meaty baked calico beans with a mixture of kidney beans, butter beans, pork and beans and lima beans in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

More Delicious Summer Side Dish Recipes

Black Bean and Corn Salad is fresh, festive and perfect for potlucks.

Broccoli and Cheddar Cornbread uses a Jiffy mix to make a cheesy bread with a veggie.

Macaroni Salad for a Crowd pairs well with beans at family reunion, cookout, or graduation party.

Cucumber Salad wraps crisp cucumber slices in a creamy dressing.

Close up pan of flavorful Calico beans in a serving dish on a red and beige plaid napkin.

Calico Beans

Servings 10 servings
Author: Jennifer
Our Calico Beans make a hearty side with a colorful combination of ground beef, bacon and four types of beans.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1/2 cup bacon chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 15 ounce can pork and beans
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans drained
  • 15 ounce can butter beans we prefer baby butter beans
  • 15 ounce can lima beans drained
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Cook and drain bacon and ground beef. Drain, crumble bacon and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix together all ingredients.
  • Pour into a 9 x 13" dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cover and bake for 1 hour.


Calories: 371kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 24gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 404mgPotassium: 1003mgFiber: 12gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 89IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 5mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

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