Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

 In Breakfast, Lunch, Recipes, Sides


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Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

You might not know this about me but only just a few years ago, I despised beans. Like, seriously disliked them. I don’t know why exactly but I just couldn’t stand the thought of eating them and every time my dad (serious bean-lover) would eat them, I would turn my nose up and leave the room. Maybe it’s because they don’t look all that appealing in a can and they take forever to cook if you’re doing them from scratch but I just really hated beans. Then a few years ago C’s cousin made a dish called “Cowboy beans” for a braai (BBQ) we were at and I was intrigued. Probably because this dish started with her frying onions, garlic and bacon until they were all golden brown and smelling incredible. She then added a few cans of baked beans, sugar and other things that I can’t remember and the end result was this absolutely delicious pot of beans. Say what now? Beans? That I actually like and, dare I say it, CRAVE? Yep, yeppidy yep. I have been converted.

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

So yesterday that craving hit hard and all I could think of was sweet, smoky cowboy beans. Luckily I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry and went about making a ginormous pan full. I couldn’t remember exactly what C’s cousin put in her Cowboy beans but I knew the flavours I was after so I just kind of followed my own nose and palate. I started with onions, bacon and garlic and then added two cans of drained cannelini beans along with tomato passata (puree), ketchup, Balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika and brown sugar and allowed it to simmer slowly for 30 minutes until the sauce turned thick and the dish had a beautiful deep red colour.

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

One taste and I was hooked. If you like sweet, smoky and salty flavours, you will love this. At first I thought I would just eat the beans on a thick slice of ciabatta toast but then I thought of a soft egg on top with it’s creamy yolk and I was sold. So I quickly fried up an egg and well, love at first sight. How can you NOT want to eat that?

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

These beans also go incredibly well with grilled meat and chicken and some slow-braised beef short ribs would be just insane with a generous spoonful of Cowboy beans alongside it. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s breakfast time and there’s still a bowl-full of beans in the fridge waiting to be eaten on more crunchy toast.

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Sweet and smoky cowboy beans
Sweet and smoky cowboy beans
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Course: Beans, Breakfast, Lunch, Sides
Servings: 4 -6
Author: Alida Ryder
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 250 g streaky bacon finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 x 400g cans Cannelini beans drained
  • 1 cup tomato passata/puree
  • 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a large pan/skillet, fry the onion and bacon until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and fry for another 30 seconds then add the drained beans.
  3. Pour in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Lower the heat and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes, topping up with beef stock/water as needed to ensure the beans don't dry out and burn.
  5. When the sauce is thick and deep red, season to taste then serve.


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Showing 5 comments
  • Reply

    This looks heavenly! I can’t wait to try something like this out for my husband.

    • Alida Ryder

      You must! Please let me know what he thinks once you’ve tried it!

  • Anne Myers

    Liewe Alida

    Lanklaas op jou blog gewees. Jou werk word net mooier en beter. Veels geluk!

    Hierdie resep het my aan de soeke vir rooi cannelini bone. Waar kry jy dit? Ek kry net wit cannelinis – selfs die Google search help nie.

    Help asseblief!


    • Alida Ryder

      Hi Anne! Baie dankie vir jou mooi woorde. Ek gebruik ook net die wittes, nog nooit rooies gesien nie!

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