Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

A big skillet full of sweet and smoky cowboy beans flavoured with bacon and smoked paprika is the ultimate comfort food.

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

When a recipe starts by frying onions, garlic and bacon until they are all golden brown and smelling incredible, you know it’s going to be good. Right? These cowboy beans are sweet, salty and smoky and the perfect side dish or breakfast addition.

The first time I had these beans, my husband’s cousin made them at a braai (cook-out). 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

Ingredients needed

Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

  • Bacon.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic. 
  • Beans. I used cannelini but any small white bean will work.
  • Tomato ketchup.
  • Tomato passata. Alternatively use tomato puree (not paste).
  • Beef stock. 
  • Balsamic vinegar.
  • Worcestershire sauce. 
  • Brown sugar.
  • Salt and Pepper.

How to make cowboy beans?

  1. Prep ingredients: Finely chop onions and bacon. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  2. Cook: Fry theonion, garlic and bacon until they start to caramelize then add smoked paprika, drained cannelini beans, ketchup, tomato passata, beef stock, Balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Finish and serve: Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The beans need to be sweet and smoky but well seasoned. Serve as a side dish or on toast with a fried egg.

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

Can I freeze Cowboy Beans?

Yes, you can. Allow the beans to cool completely before transferring to a freezer-proof container. Thaw the beans completely before re-heating and serving.

What to serve with cowboy beans

  1. Easy Grilled steak
  2. Greek pork chops
  3. Lemon herb chicken breasts

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

Easy side dish recipes

  1. Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta salad
  2. Easy spicy garlic baked potato wedges
  3. Creamy potato salad
  4. Easy side salad with lemon dressing
  5. Cucumber, tomato and red onion salad
Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

Sweet and smoky cowboy beans

4.63 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beans, Breakfast, Lunch, Sides
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 4 -6


  • 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


  • In a large pan/skillet, fry the onion and bacon until golden brown and fragrant.
  • Add the garlic and smoked paprika and fry for another 30 seconds then add the drained beans.
  • Pour in the remaining ingredients.
  • 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.
  • When the sauce is thick and deep red, season to taste then serve.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Thanks so much for the recipe. We served the beans with BBQ pork ribs, potato bake, sauerkraut, gherkins. Everyone at the table made comments about how good the beans were. 🙂

  2. 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!