Travel & Food

Delicious Calico Beans: A Flavorful Twist on Classic Baked Beans”

Discover the Irresistible Charm of Calico Beans

Calico beans, also known as “three-bean bake,” are a mouthwatering and hearty dish that brings a burst of flavor to any meal. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting in the kitchen, calico beans are a delightful addition to your repertoire. In this article, we will explore the world of these amazing beans, their rich history, variations, and some mouthwatering recipes that will have your taste buds dancing with joy.

The History of Calico Beans

Calico beans have a fascinating history that dates back to the early days of American cuisine. This hearty dish is said to have its roots in the Great Depression when cooks had to get creative with ingredients they had on hand. The name “calico” comes from the variety of beans used, which resemble the colorful patterns of calico fabric.

The All-Star Ingredients

Calico beans are known for their diverse mix of ingredients, making them a nutritious and flavorful dish. The primary components include:

  1. Beans: Typically, calico beans feature a trio of beans – kidney beans, pinto beans, and baked beans. These beans bring different textures and flavors to the dish, creating a delightful contrast.
  2. Ground Meat: Ground beef or turkey is often added to calico beans, providing a hearty protein source that complements the beans perfectly.
  3. Bacon: The smoky flavor of bacon adds depth and richness to the dish, making it even more irresistible.
  4. Onion and Garlic: These aromatic ingredients add a savory dimension to these amazing beans, enhancing their overall taste.
  5. Tomato-Based Sauce: A tangy, tomato-based sauce is the backbone of the dish, giving them their signature flavor.

Preparing the Perfect Calico Beans

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making delicious beans:


  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) baked beans
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium heat until browned. Drain excess fat and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic to the bacon drippings. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kidney beans, pinto beans, baked beans, cooked ground meat, and sautéed onion-garlic mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour this sauce over the bean mixture and stir until well combined.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle the cooked bacon on top.
  8. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the beans are bubbly and slightly caramelized on top.

Serving and Garnishing

Calico beans are best served hot, straight from the oven. They make a fantastic side dish for barbecues, picnics, or as a comforting meal on their own. Here are some serving and garnishing ideas to make your calico beans even more delectable:

  1. Cheese: Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of your recipe just before serving for an extra layer of flavor.
  2. Fresh Herbs: Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chives to add a pop of color and freshness.
  3. Cornbread: Serve calico beans with a side of warm cornbread to complete the meal.
  4. Pickled Jalapeños: For those who like a bit of heat, pickled jalapeño slices make a zesty garnish.

Calico beans are a true comfort food that brings together a medley of flavors and textures. Whether you’re making them for a family gathering or a quiet night at home, this dish is sure to please. From their intriguing history to the tantalizing aroma that fills your kitchen as they bake, calico beans are an experience worth savoring. So, gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and indulge in the delicious world of these amazing beans. Your taste buds will thank you!

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