Best Ever Crock Pot Cowboy Beans

Crock Pot Cowboy Beans are a hearty and filling side dish made with a pound of beef, a pound of bacon, and three kinds of beans, all slow-simmered in a sweet and tangy brown sugar molasses sauce.


Crock Pot Cowboy Beans in a black oval crockpot.

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You'll have to forgive me for the quality of that photo up there.  I took it on the fly and never bothered to check if the image was totally in focus.  I was moving a liiiittle too quickly in my rush to take a last-minute shot that I shook the camera, as you can obviously see.

Shame on me.  I am not being a very good food blogger when I take crappy photos.

Every time we have a party or when we host holiday celebrations, I always have the best intentions to photograph my new recipes, I swear I do. This time was just like all of the others.  I get all wrapped up in last minute cleaning, getting myself and the kids ready, and making sure all of the food is plated, that I forget to take pictures.  I usually remember when the party is in full swing and people are chowing down.

Awful photograph or not, this old fashioned cowboy beans recipe was so yummy and super indulgent!  Usually, when a recipe calls for a pound of bacon, I say, "Where do I sign up?"  They were the talk of my little guy's second birthday party!

EDIT: I finally shot some new photos of this delish recipe!  It only took four years!  Haha.  Check it out!

A large ladle overflowing with Cowboy Beans.

Ahhhh, a little close-up action so you can see all of that delicious beany goodness.  I can honestly say that four years after publishing this recipe, these beans are still THE BEST.

Over the years I've gotten review after review across social media with folks singing this recipe's praises! Not to mention the fact that this authentic cowboy beans recipe is now the number one searched recipe on the blog. I tell you, there's a reason for that.  They are just that good.

This recipe doesn't get much easier.  Just dump the ingredients and go.  Love, love, love it.

How To Make Cowboy Beans

Texas cowboy beans are similar to baked beans, made by combining cooked ground beef, cooked bacon, canned beans, onions, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and mustard in a large slow cooker. The beans are slow-cooked for 4 hours before serving. See below for a complete ingredient list and full instructions.

Homemade Cowboy Beans Ingredients

A good cowboy baked beans recipe is known for hearty, smoky flavors and a satisfying combination of beans, ground meat, and spices in a tangy barbecue sauce. Here's the details on the ingredients I use to make cowboy beans from scratch:

  • Ground beef:  For this cowboy beans recipe with hamburger, I like to use 85/15 lean ground beef which means 85% lean and 15% fat.
  • Bacon and bacon drippings: Cook the bacon until nice and crisp, but save the drippings! Some of the drippings are added to the beans for extra bacon flavor.
  • Kidney beans: You can use light red or dark red kidney beans. Pinto beans can be substituted here.
  • White beans: Navy beans, cannellini beans, or great northern beans will all work in this recipe.
  • Pork and beans: Look for canned pork and beans in sauce and don't drain the sauce!
  • Onion: Yellow onions or sweet onions will both work.
  • Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar found in the baking aisle.
  • Ketchup: Good old ketchup, nothing fancy!
  • Molasses: Don't skip the molasses if you want a deep, rich-flavored batch of beans.
  • Yellow mustard: Stick with yellow as opposed to dijon or whole ground. Yellow is best!


Crock Pot Cowboy Beans ingredients on a wood background.

What Size Crock Pot Should I Use?

I always use a nice big crock pot for this recipe. If you use a small crock pot, it won't fit all of the beans.  Go with a 6-7 qt.  This is the crock pot I use and I absolutely love it.  I don't have the little dipper, but I wish I did!

Amazing BBQ Recipes to Complement Cowboy Crockpot Beans

This cowboy beans recipe compliments all of your favorite barbecue foods.  Try them with these favorites:

How to Store Cowboy Beans

This recipe makes lots of beans, so you might find yourself with leftovers. Here's how you can store cowboy beans:
  • Allow the Beans to Cool: Before storing this cowboy bean recipe, let them cool completely at room temperature. This step is crucial as storing hot food in the refrigerator can lead to bacterial growth.
  • Choose Appropriate Containers: Cowboy beans should be stored in airtight containers that are glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Divide into Portions: If you have a large batch of cowboy beans, consider dividing them into smaller portions before storing them. This will make it easier when reheating later on, allowing you to defrost only the amount needed if you're freezing them.
  • Consume Within 3-4 Days: Cowboy beans can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to three or four days without compromising taste or quality. They can be frozen for up to six months.



A wooden bowl of Crock Pot Cowboy Beans on a tan background.



Have you tried this popular recipe? If not, what are you waiting for?! Get on it, then come on back and let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!


Best Ever Crock Pot Cowboy Beans

Yield: 20 SERVINGS
Prep Time: 15 MINUTES
cook time: 4 HOURS
total time: 4 HOURS, 15 MINUTES
Crock Pot Cowboy Beans are a hearty and filling side dish made with a pound of beef, a pound of bacon, and three kinds of beans, all slow-simmered in a sweet and tangy brown sugar molasses sauce.

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INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground beef
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
3 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
3 (15 ounce) cans white beans
3 (15 ounce) cans pork and beans
3 small onions, diced
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons yellow mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onions until the meat is no longer pink; drain.
  2. Drain and rinse all of the beans except for one can of pork and beans.  Combine the beans, cooked ground beef, onions, and remaining ingredients in your crock pot.
  3. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.


NOTES

This recipe makes a TON of beans.  Plan to use a large oval crockpot or halve the recipe.  I served 20 people and still had leftovers, but everyone was more than willing to take some home!

Author: Becky Tarala

Nutrition data should not be considered a guarantee. Please see our full Nutrition Data Disclosure.


98 comments

  1. These look super yummy! Beans are my husband's favorite, and I love crockpot versions! I'll definitely give these a try soon!

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    1. Awesome! I hope you like them as much as we did. :)

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    2. I have made these a lot, but do not always add different kinds of beans and instead of mustard I add horseradish. Yummy!

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    3. The ingredient list looks awesome. It includes all of my favorite things, and BBQ'd baked beans are my ultimate. We buy many varieties of dried beans in bulk which I'll cook in my instant pot first, and then have red, black, white, and baby lima beans to make this recipe. Many thanks for it.

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  2. Would these freeze well? I was thinking of making the entire batch and freezing leftovers. If not, I'll just cut the recipe down.

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    Replies
    1. I make a very similar dish and they freeze well

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  3. Replies
    1. I added a can of petite tomatoes

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  4. Do you add any liquid (ie: water)?

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  5. Replies
    1. To get the full flavor, I'd say yes. It's definitely not a vegetarian recipe.

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    2. I used veggie crumbles, meat substitute, and they turned out great!

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    3. Black beans? Would that change the outcome of the dish?

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    4. Black beaans will make it even better, not to mention that black beans have the highest protein content of all beans.

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    5. Black beans are my favorite in this dish… SO YUMMY!

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  6. Could you freeze this recipe? If yes would you cook the meat first,strain it and then add it to the freezer bag to be place in the freezer or leave the meat raw? Thank You!

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    Replies
    1. you would definitely want to cook the meat first, make it in a bowl, and then portion / freeze.

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  7. Looks and sounds delicious by the way.

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  8. They have another name.... called SUPER BEANS. I ate them many times at a small locally owned restaurant in Tenn over 10 years ago.

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  9. I have these in my crockpot right now, only thing I changed was I used dijon mustard instead of regular, tastes great! Thank you for the recipe, I'm sure my cookout company tonight will love them!��

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    1. Mmm, I think I will try dijon next time, too. Great idea!

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  10. I have these in my crockpot right now, only thing I changed was I used dijon mustard instead of regular, tastes great! Thank you for the recipe, I'm sure my cookout company tonight will love them!��

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  11. Replies
    1. The recipe calls for canned beans that do not require cooking before they get dumped into the crock pot.

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  12. I don't see reference to when the bacon is added and if it is cooked first.

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    1. The bacon is cooked and crumbled before adding to the crock pot in step 2. :)

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Made this a few weeks ago for a gathering at my church and it was a hit! Several asked that this my dish to bring anytime we eat and we eat a lot of times! Thanks for a successful recipe!

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  14. Adding green bell peppers. Hope it works.

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  15. Bell oeppers & Worcester sauce are a nice bump. Served these for years! A stands alone meal with some cornbread! Ohhh, think I'll have to go make some now. Lol

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    1. How much Worcestershire sauce do you use? Thanks in advance.

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    2. YES! I just sprinkle some Worcestershire in and I also put a squirt of Heinz 57 in there, too, along with the ketchup, Dijon mustard and barbecue sauce. I also cut down the brown sugar, just a small amount (like 1/4 cup instead of a whole cup since then it’s kinda too sugary sweet. I used half of a red and half of an orange bell pepper. Delish!

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    3. Oops! I didn’t mean to put a heart on my own comment and now I don’t know how to remove it.­čśé

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  16. Nowhere in the directions do you mention the bacon....I assumed that it should be mixed in with all the other ingredients at the same time. So that's what I did and they'll be ready in a few hours! They're smelling good,I just hope I wasn't supposed to add the bacon crumbled on top when they're done!

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    1. The bacon is part of the "remaining ingredients" in step 2. You did it correctly! Sorry for the confusion. I hope you love them! :)

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    2. Its not confusing at all- you say to cook and crumble in the ingredients and then you say, "add remaining ingredients".

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  17. Throw a TBPS of liquid smoke in these baddies.

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  18. I've made these many times now. Always a hit! Thank you!

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  19. How many people does this recipe serve?

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  20. Does the 1/2 cup of Molasses make these beans really sweet? Also do you think it I could use pinto beans instead of Kidney beans? I can't stand Kidney beans :/

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    Replies
    1. They are sweet, but not too much for my family. I would say yes for the bean switch!

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  21. I put a similar recipe in my book, A Texas Ranger in Arizona, at the end of Chapter One, called Campfire Beans. This was the third of the Spence Pierce series available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. Available on Kindle and Nook books.

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  22. Great Beans. Used 50% molasses 50% agave in the raw. Awesome.

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  23. Added Lil Smokies, delish!

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  24. I put them into my smoker to cook instead of slow cooker and they were awesome !!

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    Replies
    1. Nice! We use our smoker at least once a week during the summer. I am totally going to try that!

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  25. Yes they can be frozen and no you do not have to add meat. Cowboy beans have been a fav in my family for years. I plan on trying this variation.

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  26. Is there a substitute for the pork and beans? I would like to make this without using canned prepared foods.

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  27. You can use whatever beans you like. If you want to use dry beans pre-cook them and carry on with the rest of the recipe.

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  28. will this recipe be too much for a 5 qt crock pot?

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    Replies
    1. It will be tight! I've made them in a 5.5 qt crock pot.

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  29. I want to serve 4-6 people with this recipe. I'm confused of how to halve the ingredients! Please help!

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    1. 1/2 pound ground beef
      1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
      1 tbsp bacon drippings
      1 1/2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
      1 1/2 (15 ounce) cans white beans
      1 1/2 (15 ounce) cans pork and beans
      1 1/2 small onions, diced
      1/2 cup light brown sugar
      1/2 cup ketchup
      1/4 cup molasses
      1 1/2 tbsps yellow mustard

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    2. Tip: I use an app called Recipe Keeper for all my recipes. It allows you to adjust serving size up or down and makes adjustment to ingredients for you. But doesn't permanently alter the original recipe.

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  30. I tried it. Didn't have molasses so I used extra brown sugar.
    I liked it. My husband loved it. Thumbs up.
    I think this is good for 4th of July with some franks.

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  31. I have been making these for years but call them Calico beans. I also use butter beans and lima beans. Very nice looking with all the colors in there.

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  32. I used dried pinto beans and swapped the ketchup for vinegar and tomato paste and used treacle instead of molasses

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  33. I am making these for graduation party and would like to make in an 18 quart roaster. Do I double or triple the recipe? Would only like to make one roaster full if possible. Looking to
    serve approximately 125 people. Thanks for your input.

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    Replies
    1. I have never made a batch that big! Did you end up trying it? How did it turn out?

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  34. I've been making this for years!It was called Beverly's Beans. The only difference is the bacon was put in the skillet with the ground beef so it's not crispy which I like! It also calls for 2 cans black beans,1 can pinto beans,1 can kidney beans,1 can white beans,and 2 cans pork n beans. Always a big hit at pot lucks!

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  35. Can i make homemade baked beans for this recipe instead of using 3 types of canned baked beans? Will it have any change in the texture and the flavor?

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  36. I use bush beans. I have also made it with Italian sausage.

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  37. Making these in my dutch oven when we go camping! Yum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are going camping this fall. I think I'll add them to the menu!

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  38. Wish I could understand why they wont allow you to print this recipe.

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    1. Sorry about that! I'm in the process of updating each post to include a print button. It should be fixed now!

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  39. Are the beans mushy after cooking (already cooked beans) that long in the crock pot?

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  40. I just made these this weekend for a football party. I had ZERO leftovers. So yummy. Because I'm lazy, I used pre-cooked bacon. I chopped it up and added it to the hamburger when it was almost done browning. We had picky eaters in the mix so I omitted the onions as well.

    I also used a combo of different beans - really don't think there is a way to mess this one up. Thanks!

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  41. Can't wait to try these. But I will definitely have to cut it in half. So glad it doesn't call for lima beans which I detest.

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  42. I was on board till the canned beans part..I would think you could use fully soaked beans with that long cook time in a slow cooker...

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    1. Not without cooking the beans first outside the recipe! They won't cook properly with so many other things in the slow cooker, they really need to be cooked first, then follow the recipe. My former MIL made these for decades using dried beans, and the one time she thought she could "save time" by just soaking them, then putting them into the slow cooker was the one and only time she absolutely ruined a great dish...beans were as hard as if they'd never been cooked at all.

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  43. Made this a few times Needs heat. I put cayenne peppers in it. Also I grilled some country ribs threw them in omitted the bacon and let cooke full time.

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  44. Looks AWESOME, How many does this serve?

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  45. I made these yesterday for a end of the summer bbq/birthday party. They are fantastic! I got so many positive comments and thumbs up. Delish!
    *Jodi C. Maine

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  46. Any tips for doing them in the oven? Time and temp?

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  47. I love cooking meals with my crock pot! These are some great recipes and I pinned this to my Pinterest crock pot/slow cooker board. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Regards: Eve Hunt

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  48. I just made these and they didn’t really turn out like the picture. I cooked them on low for 8 hours and they are mushy. There really isn’t any liquid in the crockpot like the picture above. They taste good, though.

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  49. I will be making these tomorrow in my brand new slow cooker. I'm going to add diced bell peppers and jalapenos.

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  50. LOVE these. They're so easy to make and such a great addition to a family meal or potluck.

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  51. I have made these many times with different recipes but have found this one is the best! I'm making them this weekend for a big Father's Day BBQ. They are always a hit! I change up the beans sometimes depending on what's available at Aldi but I always add at least one (usually two) Serrano peppers to add some heat!
    Yummy...can't wait!!

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  52. I Have enjoyed this recipe since I was a child and my children loved it as well. I think this is a great recipe that allows you to make changes or add something you like in it to meet your tastes, (I add liquid smoke and green peppers to it).
    I've never tried this recipe in a crock pot before, but it's nice to know that you have the option to. I've always used my big skillet to prepare it on top of the stove and placed it in a lasagna pan or two and baked at 350 for around 25-30 minutes. Then I unroll a package of crescent roll dough and place on top of it and bake following the directions on the can. I finish it off by topping that off with my favorite shredded cheese. Smells so good while it's baking.

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    Replies
    1. In the summer is nice to have the crockpot option so the oven doesn't heat up the house. I'm going to be making these on our camping trip for Labor Day weekend!

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  53. What kind of molasses?

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  54. These beans are so good and they make the house smell fabulous! I do use a couple of cans of blank beans to sub for 1 can of white and 1 can of kidney. Oh man I made them last night and am going for left overs for breakfast!

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  55. Why does it say all the pork & beans except one can? What am I supposed to do w that last can??

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    1. You drain and rinse all of the beans EXCEPT for one can of pork and beans. That can gets added to the crock pot, sauce and all.

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  56. Do beans have to be soaked before cooking in a crock pot?

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  57. Wow! The beans in the attached picture looks so yummy like one of the local beans delicacies we have over here.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Adam

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  58. What do you do with the bacon or did I miss a step?

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    1. You add it during step two. It’s part of the ‘remaining ingredients’.

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  59. The "Best Ever Crock Pot Cowboy Beans" recipe lives up to its name with its hearty and flavorful combination of ingredients that tantalize the taste buds with every bite. This slow-cooker sensation is a savory symphony of beans, ground beef, bacon, and a medley of spices, simmered to perfection for hours to achieve a rich and robust flavor profile. The addition of sweet molasses and tangy barbecue sauce adds a delightful depth of sweetness and smokiness, while the touch of heat from the jalape├▒os provides a satisfying kick. Whether served as a crowd-pleasing side dish at a backyard barbecue or enjoyed as a comforting meal on a chilly evening, these cowboy beans are sure to earn rave reviews and become a staple in any recipe repertoire.
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