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Calico Beans Recipe

Updated on May 22, 2014

Calico Beans with Green Beans

Calico Beans Made with Green Beans
Calico Beans Made with Green Beans | Source

Bored with pork and beans? Need a great side dish that is easy and inexpensive? If you have never tried calico beans, I promise you will be delighted.

Calico beans is made with navy beans or essentially any beans that are blond in color. To add some diversity I have tried adding in garbanzo beans and also green beans. For me, the green beans serve to detract from the diversity of the legumes. I prefer four varieties of beans, of course the two mandatory ingredients are the Pork and Beans and the calico beans - any of the beautiful tan beans work well. The beans, of course, are simply your choice.

Brown sugar with ground hamburger and you crinkle your nose? You would be surprised. For, me I prefer the Pork and Beans with a touch of maple flavor - it adds another layer to his delicious side dish.

3.5 stars from 2 ratings of Side Dish

Navy Beans or Boston Beans

Navy beans have a distinctive shape and that beautiful blond color that serves to carefully craft the origin of the name of this recipe - calico. Why the crazy name of navy beans for these beautiful blond colored beans? Because at some point in the history of the United States, this bean was the staple food for the U. S. Navy.

How To Drain and Rinse Kidney Beans

It is best to drain kidney beans with the lid of the can and then place in a colander and rinse under water. I like to use ozonated water for all my cooking needs in addition to the best filtered water, the ozonated water adds in the sanitation. Simply keep the water running for 30 seconds or more and gently turn the beans with a spatula. To me, the spatula is softer than a spoon and I like the presentation of the beans to appear as whole as possible.

The History of the Bean - The Legume

Beans or also known as legumes are credited as the very first convenience food. The canned pork and beans was deemed the very first prepared side dish. Who invented this dish? Gilbert Van Camp and his wife Hester. They sold salt pork and bans with stewed tomatoes.

Cowboy Food - Essence of Americana

Pork and beans are commonly seen in the old western movies. It is said that the song "The Old Chishom Trail" included the words pork and beans. I am unable to verify this fact so I will take it as what is it really is - trivia.

What is not trivia is the great nutrition facts that beans can offer. High in protein and dietary fiber, beans are a truly nutritious food.

Oh, but you say the taste puts you off - now with this recipe, the taste is something to strive for - this recipe is delicious and very simple.

Non-cooks, singles, bachelors take note, this recipes is as complicated as opening the can and browning beef. Add a little brown sugar, throw - yes, throw into the slower cooker and in 4-5 hours you will have a delicious side dish.

Pork and Beans - Classic Cow Boy Food

Cute little boy in cow boy hat eating pork and beans
Cute little boy in cow boy hat eating pork and beans | Source

Fun Bean Fact

Leguminous crops harvested green for food, such as snap peas, snow peas, and so on, are not considered as beans, and are classified as vegetable crops.

Blond Beans and Beyond

Cannellini Bean by Goya - blond beans
Cannellini Bean by Goya - blond beans | Source
Three Types of beans from Eden Foods - Kidney, Pinto, Black Beans
Three Types of beans from Eden Foods - Kidney, Pinto, Black Beans | Source
Organic Garbanzo beans by Eden in a Box
Organic Garbanzo beans by Eden in a Box


  • 1 Can Butter Beans - Drain, approximately 14.5 ounces
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans - Drain, approximately 14.5 ounces
  • 1 Large Can Pork & Beans - Do Not Drain, I prefer the maple syrup for added flavor
  • 1 Can Northern Beans - Do Not Drain, this is the white bean
  • 1 Package Ground Beef - Brown and Drain

"Cannellini Bean"

Pronunciation: [kan-eh-LEE-nee]

A white Italian kidney bean, which is available both in dry and canned forms. Cannellini beans are particularly popular in salads and soups. See also beans.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbs"

Three Servings of Beans Per Week

Exercising daily and eating a well balanced diet are the essentials to great health. Now we are learning that we should also be adding fish once a week and three servings of beans each week. Here is some further details from the Bean Institute about how beans help our risk the risk of metabolic syndrome.

"The US Dietary Guidelines calls for increasing intake of more plant foods. Legumes are high in protein, low in fat and excellent source of fiber and an assortment of vitamins and minerals. However, US intake of beans does not meet the current recommended intake. Research indicates that consuming legumes decreases risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which affects approximately one-third of US adults. Meeting the US recommendation to consume at least three servings of beans per week could potentially greatly help to improve the health status of millions of Americans." source: The Bean Institute

Nutritional Value of Beans

Beans are known as the most complete food because they cross from vegetable all the way over to a protein. Beans are goof at controlling your blood glucose levels and have been shown to to reduce high cholesterol, and even help with our cardiovascular health. On top of all of that, they are a fairly inexpensive food.

Beans make a great side dish to take with you to casual gatherings such as picnics or other events.

The calico bean recipe here is sure to please and is often the very first dish to completely disappear. All that and then there is the great nutrition that only beans can offer as the most "complete food".

Beans and Nutritional Value

graphical display of the nutritional value of beans as the best vegetable because it also includes protein
graphical display of the nutritional value of beans as the best vegetable because it also includes protein | Source

What is a Bean?

"In English usage, the word "bean" is also sometimes used to refer to the seeds or pods of plants that are not in the family leguminosae, but which bear a superficial resemblance to true beans—for example coffee beans, castor beans and cocoa beans (which resemble bean seeds), and vanilla beans which superficially resemble bean pods."


  1. Brown 1 pound ground beef and drain.
  2. Add 1/4 cup catchup and 1 cup brown sugar (mix together)
  3. Put all ingredients in a crock pot and set on low for 4-5 hours
  4. Enjoy!
  5. For a 5 quart crock pot, simply double the ingredients

"Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot)."

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 4 hours
Ready in: 4 hours 30 min
Yields: Serves 6 - Double for 5 quart crock pot and 12


Try this different varieties - same recipe with a different focus:

Classic Flavor - Green Beans

Vermont Flavor - Maple Syrup

Vegetarian Version - Eliminate the Pork and Ground Beef

Hawaiian Flavor - Add in a 1/4 cup of Crushed Pineapple

Have You Had This Before? Share Your Taste Bud Opinions Please

I had this for the first time at an office potluck and loved it. Made it over the forth of July for my husband and he devoured it. This is a fantastic dish and a must try.

Share your experience with this great dish. What do you like? What variety of the dish, do you prefer?


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    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I have never either but these are a surefire hit at pot lucks and family gatherings. Just made this with leftover ham and it was a hit. It is too easy and it offers great protein.

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beans, i love canned beans but don';t eat that much

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I think pork-n-beans are the unsung dish of summer time. We are having hot dogs tomorrow night from Nuetsche's and I can't wait to throw this together in the morning and arrive home to the great smell. Something about slow cooking somehow changes the flavors. Thank you for stopping by and contributing. I couldn't believe we didn't have this recipe out here on HubPages. So glad I could share.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I make a pork-n-bean dish with ground beef I love so I bet this would be even better. Thanks for sharing!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I served this when the grandchildren were here and OMGoodness, protein was actually enjoyed! It is a perfect summer time recipe - casual, easy and delicious. Thank you so much for helping me out and voiting it up. I follow you all the time - your are one of my favorites.

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I love beans and this looks like a delicious alternative. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      The next time I make this I must have my camera out. HubPages changes how I cook - imagine cooking with a camera by your side!

      It is yummy - thank you for stopping by.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      I don't even care for beans but this recipe is outstanding. And great protein - amazing something good for me too and I like it?! Wow!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Yummy for this recipe! Great photos also! :)

    • breakfastpop profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks so much for this recipe, I am a bean fanatic!


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