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Sweet & Spicy Cowboy Beans | Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

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The word “cowboy” in this recipe title is so fitting. I can only picture this dish being one made around a campfire under the stars on a chilly night. From the hickory smoked thick-cut bacon and organic grass fed beef, to the sweet bourbon butter beans, the peppery undertones of these sweet and spicy cowboy beans make them a hearty fall time favorite. 

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans | A Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

This savory butter bean skillet is a simple dish to prepare, and could be a delicious and easy camping meal for family and friends to share around the fire. 

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So What Are Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans?

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy beans are a popular side dish that contains ground beef, bacon, onion, peppers, brown sugar, baked beans and typically a sweet and spicy sauce, such as barbecue sauce. 

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans | A Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

For this recipe, my sauce is made with a butter and broth base and a splash of bourbon.

For the bacon, I always use Wrights brand. In my personal opinion, they have some of the best thick-cut hickory smoked bacon out there.

I also have been getting into using more organic grass fed beef. The benefits are better for our bodies, as was the life of the cow better. So it is a win-win. 

Is Organic Grass Fed Beef Better For You? 

Yes, 100%! Organic grass fed beef is better for you, and life was better for that cow as well! Let’s break it down. 

Organic grass fed beef in a skillet.

Organic Beef – The organic part, simply means that the cow was not given any hormones, antibiotics, nor are there any chances of man-made pesticides in the animal’s feed. However, the feed itself, could still be corn or soy. 

Grass Fed Beef – The grass fed stamp states that the cow was pasture-raised, and not fed corn or soy for a quick bulk-up. The cows were able to enjoy life on the pasture grazing on their natural diet–grass.

When cattle are fed corn and soy, it creates an unhealthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats, around 20:1. This is not healthy for the animal, as well as for our own consumption of their meat. This ratio is pro-inflammatory, which is the precursor to many common chronic diseases.

In addition to being packed with B vitamins, grass fed beef is higher in vitamin A, E, and other antioxidants when compared to grain fed beef. Grass fed beef also has a significantly lower level of saturated fat than grain fed beef.

Check out this article for further information on the benefits of organic/grass-fed beef. 

Why Are They Called Cowboy Beans? 

As you may have guessed, these are called cowboy beans because typically cowboys carried a ton of beans on their drives and would create various meals with them.

They were lightweight and inexpensive. Beans also had a long shelf life for those long chuckwagon trips across the prairies. Many bean recipes were created over the Western cattle trails including: mashed beans, various soups, and tasty chilis.

Sweet and spicy cowboy beans in a skillet.

Cowboys referred to their meals as “chuck” which meant– good, hearty food. Such a fitting description of this comforting sweet and spicy cowboy beans recipe.

How to Prepare Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans Over a Camp Fire

Looking for some camping dinner ideas? While I made this recipe over a gas stove using a cast iron skillet and a larger non-stick skillet, this recipe is really delicious when made over a wood burning campfire.

Best cowboy beans recipe

But doesn’t everything taste better when cooked over a campfire? 

This recipe does have a few cooking steps, but is still an easy camping dinner recipe.

If you’re looking for something new to try one of these beautiful fall weekends, plan to cook outside and hang with family for the day! 

Here is what you will need: 

  1. Adjustable Fire Pit Grill Set 
  2. BBQ Grilling Gloves
  3. Large Cast Iron Skillet
  4. You could also check out the Solo Stove cooking collection

Sweet & Spice Cowboy Bean Ingredients

  • 2 Cans Large butter beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Can Pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Can Great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 5 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Cups Beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1/4 Cup Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Cayenne
  • 1 Tsp. White pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Small onion
  • 1lb Organic grass fed beef
  • 7-8 Slices of Wrights thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
  • Dash of salt

So you obviously want to start by making a good fire, and setting up your cooking station. Once your fire is good and hot, it’s time to start making your sweet bourbon butter beans. 

Cowboy Bean Campfire Cooking

Step 1. Add 5 Tbsp. butter to your fire pit kettle, and whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour until bubbly. 

Step 2. Pour in 2 Cups of beef broth, whisking to thicken. 

Step 3. Add in 3 Tbsp. Bourbon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 Tsp. white pepper, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and a dash of salt. Stir well.

Step 4. Add in 2 cans rinsed butter beans, 1 can pinto beans, and 1 can great northern beans. Stir into the sauce and leave kettle positioned over the fire to heat. 

Step 5. Place your cast iron skillet on top of your fire pit grill, add some butter and the ground organic grass fed beef. Cook through until no longer red. Then add the browned beef into your kettle. 

Step 6. Add your chopped yellow onion to the cast iron skillet and cook in the leftover beef juices. Next, add in 3 garlic cloves and sauté until tender. Lastly, add into your kettle and stir. 

Step 7. Add your thick-cut hickory smoked bacon to your cast iron skillet and cook until crispy, flipping as needed. Once cooked, dab with a paper towel to remove excess oils. Then chop up and add to your kettle. 

Step 8. Stir your sweet and spicy cowboy beans until heated all the way through over the fire. Then serve and enjoy!

Not cut out for campfire cooking? No problem!

How to Make Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans on the Stove

You can definitely still prepare this sweet and spicy cowboy bean recipe over the stove.

In a pinch? You can also make Instant Pot cowboy beans. 

Step 1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil and place 7-8 strips of thick-cut hickory smoked bacon on the sheet. Once your oven is heated, cook the bacon in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crispy. 

Step 2. Add 5 Tbsp. butter to your large non-stick skillet, and whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour until bubbly. 

Step 3. Pour in 2 Cups of beef broth, and whisk rapidly to thicken. 

Thickening sauce.

Step 4. Add in 3 Tbsp. Bourbon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 Tsp. white pepper, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and a dash of salt. Stir well.

Step 5. Add in 2 cans rinsed butter beans, 1 can pinto beans, and 1 can great northern beans. Stir into the sauce and then lower the heat to simmer. 

Bean skillet

Step 6. Heat your cast iron skillet on a second burner turned to med-low, add some butter and the ground organic grass fed beef. Cook through until no longer red. Then add the browned beef into your larger skillet.

Step 7. Add your chopped yellow onion to the cast iron skillet and cook in the leftover beef juices. Then, add in 3 garlic cloves and sauté until tender. Finally, add into your larger skillet and stir. 

Step 8. Dab your cooked bacon with a paper towel to remove excess oils. Then chop up into smaller pieces and add to the sweet and spicy cowboy beans.  

Thick cut smoked bacon diced for cowboy beans

Step 9. Serve and enjoy!

Bourbon bacon butter bean skillet

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans | A Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans | A Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

From the hickory smoked thick-cut bacon and organic grass fed beef, to the sweet bourbon butter beans, the peppery undertones of these sweet and spicy cowboy beans make them a hearty fall time favorite.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cans Large butter beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Can Pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Can Great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 5 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Cups Beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1/4 Cup Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Cayenne
  • 1 Tsp. White pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Small onion
  • 1lb Organic grass fed beef
  • 7-8 Slices of Wrights thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
  • Dash of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil and place 7-8 strips of thick-cut hickory smoked bacon on the sheet. Once your oven is heated, cook the bacon in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crispy. 
  2. Add 5 Tbsp. butter to your large non-stick skillet, and whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour until bubbly. 
  3. Pour in 2 Cups of beef broth, and whisk rapidly to thicken. 
  4. Add in 3 Tbsp. Bourbon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 Tsp. white pepper, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and a dash of salt. Stir well.
  5. Add in 2 cans rinsed & drained butter beans, 1 can pinto beans, and 1 can great northern beans. Stir into the sauce and then lower the heat to simmer. 
  6. Heat your cast iron skillet on a second burner turned to med-low, add some butter and the ground organic grass fed beef. Cook through until no longer red. Then add the browned beef into your larger skillet.
  7. Add your chopped yellow onion to the cast iron skillet and cook in the leftover beef juices. Add in 3 garlic cloves and sauté until tender. Add into your larger skillet and stir. 
  8. Dab your cooked bacon with a cloth to remove excess oils. Then chop up into smaller pieces and add to the sweet and spicy cowboy beans.  
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Can be made over a camp fire, on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 974

You’ll Also Enjoy…

I really hope you enjoy this recipe! I’d also love to know if you tried making this over a campfire!

Sweet and Spicy Cowboy Beans | A Bourbon Butter Bean Skillet

Have you made sweet and spicy cowboy beans before? What do you put in yours?

And if you’re looking for more hearty recipes, make sure to check these out next.

You can also visit my recipe archives here.

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~Sarah

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