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 You’ll be the hit of the next BBQ or picnic with these Instant Pot Cowboy Beans. You’ll find both Instant Pot and slow cooker instructions in the recipe card.

a bowl of instant pot cowboy beans topped with cilantro
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These Instant Pot Cowboy Beans are a healthier take on a dish that was on the table at every single family event growing up. The result is still a giant bowl full of comfort that tastes like childhood BBQs, but with a lot less sugar.

Most people serve cowboy beans as a side dish; that’s how I grew up with them. But you could also serve it over some Air Fryer Cornbread with Kale Chopped Salad on the side and call it a full meal.

The Instant Pot makes quick work of this bean dish, but if you have the time to plan, make it a day ahead of time. The flavors will improve after 12-24 hours in the fridge.

You can use canned beans or cook dried beans in the Instant Pot beforehand for this recipe. Place 1/2 cup each of dried navy, kidney, and butter beans in the insert of the Instant Pot. Cover with 4 inches of water and cook on manual high pressure for 38 minutes. Allow for a 20-minute natural release and then vent to remove any additional pressure.

3 photos showing how to make cowboy beans in the Instant Pot

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes:

  • No BBQ sauce in the fridge? You can make this Paleo BBQ Sauce instead.
  • Use some of the leftover molasses to make homemade brown sugar.
  • You can double the meat without impacting the cooking time. Many people even like to add sliced kielbasa.
  • Throw in some chopped and deseeded green pepper or jalapeno to kick the heat up.
  • Want to make this vegetarian/vegan? Leave out the burger, bacon, Worcestershire, and chicken stock. Replace with veggie stock and increase each type of bean by 1/4 cup.
a spoon lifting a scoop of instant pot calico beans


One serving has 4 WW Freestyle SmartPoints.

5 from 1 rating

Instant Pot Cowboy Beans

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
a bowl of instant pot cowboy beans topped with cilantro
You'll love these tasty and healthy cowboy beans in the Instant Pot!



Instant Pot:

  • Press saute on the Instant Pot. When it is hot, add bacon and cook, stirring often.
    4 strips uncooked bacon
  • When the bacon is half-cooked, add ground beef and onion and cook until both the bacon and beef is cooked through and the onions are softened.
    1/2 lb ground beef, 1/4 cup onion
  • Press "keep warm/cancel" twice to turn the Instant Pot off.
  • Carefully drain any grease using a metal spoon.
  • Add chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to thoroughly deglaze the bottom of the Instant Pot insert.
    1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • Add the mustard and smoked paprika, and stir to combine in the chicken stock.
    1 tbsp yellow mustard, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Add all the other ingredients but do not stir. {Stirring could result in a burn notice.}
    3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 cups cooked navy beans, 2 cups cooked kidney beans, 2 cups cooked butter beans, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup prepared BBQ sauce
  • Lock the lid into place and set the steam release handle (valve on top) to “Sealing”. Press Manual>High Pressure>5 minutes. 
  • When the Instant Pot has finished cooking, it will beep and switch to ”keep warm".
  • Allow it to sit with the lid on for 10 minutes and then do a manual release with the nozzle set to venting.

Slow Cooker:

  • In a heavy-bottomed skillet, cook hamburger on medium heat until cooked through.
  • Drain any grease and remove from pan and add to the slow cooker.
  • Cook chopped bacon in the same pan until crispy. Remove from pan and place in the slow cooker.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or 4-6 on low.


To make the dried beans ahead of time:
Place 1/2 cup each of dried navy, kidney, and butter beans in the insert of the Instant Pot. Cover with 4 inches of water and cook on manual high pressure for 38 minutes. Allow for a 20-minute natural release and then vent to remove any additional pressure.


Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 9gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 202mgPotassium: 602mgFiber: 7gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 210IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

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Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
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  1. Made these last weekend when my folks were in town – Dad was in charge of groceries, so we added extra bacon! 🙂 The beans were freaking delicious, and even better as leftovers. We had some for breakfast the next morning – breakfast of champions.5 stars

    1. So glad you liked them Sydnie, and it is hard to argue with extra bacon.

      Did you eat them on toast for breakfast? I know that is a thing but something I haven’t ever tried.

    1. I find it reeeeeeevolting! I hate overcooked green beans and it has a bunch of mayo in it right? Or maybe cream of mushroom soup? I know I hate it because of the sauce so it is one of those two.

      But the fried onions? I’ll eat the shit out of them.