COWBOY BEANS by Donna Alward

Cowboy Beans… 

Baked beans can be a very western thing. Until I moved to Alberta, I’d never really seen them on a menu as a side dish. How often do we hear about a cowboy heating a can of beans for his supper, perhaps over a fire? There’s a LaVyrle Spencer book I love, called Forgiving, and set in 1800’s Deadwood. When the bachelor hero has to cook for himself because he and the heroine are on the outs, someone comments that him sitting down to dinner with his can of beans is about the loneliest thing there is. 

We used to go to barbecues or Stampede Breakfasts and a healthy scoop of baked beans along with whatever was being served was quite the norm. 

Baked beans aren’t unique to the West, however. Take, for example, Boston Baked Beans and brown bread (which they steam in a can). In fact, the contest for the New England RWA Chapter is called The Beanpot and the trophy is indeed a cute little beanpot!  

I’m from the East Coast of Canada and baked beans were a Saturday night staple. My mom put a pot of beans in the oven in the morning and baked fresh brown bread (though not in a can, but a regular loaf pan). To be honest, I got a little sick of beans every darned week.  

So now we eat them less frequently – maybe once or twice a winter, or we’ll cheat and buy the canned version (my youngest LOVES the maple style, pretty Canadian, eh?). I recently got a wonderful recipe though, and I love it. I think the “regular” version I grew up with was missing some zip, but this bean recipe that I got from my friend Patsy are delish. The recipe calls for navy beans, but I usually use yellow eye or soldier. 

Ready? It makes enough to feed 6-8 hungry cowpokes. 

Patsy’s Baked Beans 

4 cups dry navy beans 

2/3 cup brown sugar 

1 tsp dry mustard 

1/3 cup ketchup 

1/3 cup barbecue sauce 

1/3 cup fancy molasses 

6 slices bacon, cut in 1 inch strips 

1 medium onion (whole) 


Soak beans overnight, drain, and add fresh water. Bring to a boil and boil 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid. 

Place in roaster. Add bacon and onion. 

Mix remaining ingredients, add 2 cups of liquid and add to beans. Bake at 325 degrees for 6 hours, adding more liquid as needed. 

If you want to make this in the crock pot, you may not need to add water during cooking. Cook on high for four hours, then turn back to low for the last two hours. 

Enjoy with brown bread or corn bread! 

Donna’s latest release is A COWBOY TO COME HOME TO, the fourth title in her Cadence Creek Cowboys series, out now. You can catch up with her at  Post a comment for a chance to win a kindle copy of Donna’s book!



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27 thoughts on “COWBOY BEANS by Donna Alward”

  1. I LOVE baked beans! We have friends that make them everytime we go over to their house for dinner and I practically drool just thinking about the beans. I’m definitely going to have to try your recipe. Only one question though, the onion is put in whole? If I’m reading that right do you cut it up when the beans are done?

    Would love to win a Kindle copy of your book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. I absolutely love baked beans. I’m a bit on the lazy side, so I usually go with the canned versions. They do make a side dish on my menus very often. There’s nothing better then grilling a steak and a big baked potato with all the toppings and a side of beans. Mmmm…. Now, I’m hungry. I’m still working on my morning coffee and it’s a bit early for a meal like that, but it does give me a great idea for tomorrow’s lunch.

  3. I never understood why beans from a can wouldn’t be the perfect cowboy dinner. I love them! Of course, my mom’s recipe is a lot like your friend’s. 🙂

  4. Hi Donna, welcome back! We miss you. I sure hope to catch up with you in Atlanta. I have to confess I do not soak beans. It’s one of those things that terrifies me, like cooking with yeast. But the “Bush’s” brand of baked beans is pretty good…just doctor ’em up with stuff like pineapple and red chili flakes etc.

    Hope to see you soon!

  5. Welcome Back!! I love baked beans but seldom make them any more. Found we love Grillin Beans from a can and so much easier. Of course the cook on the trail had several people to please but I think they definitely had the right recipe. Single cowboys on the trail must have had a heavy pack to haul all those cans of beans 🙂

  6. I’m glad to know that there are other fans of Bush’s Baked Beans… I’m currently in love with the Grilling varieties.
    Beans were a staple of the western chuck wagon, soaked all day and cooked up over the fire. PS for Cindy – dice the onions, but I’m not sure how exactly ‘fancy molasses’ differs from regular?

  7. Baked beans were not something we had in our home in Ontario.. But as time went by and when I was traveling a lot in the US, baked beans were a side dish most of the time. Now they have become very popular with places like Montana’s Restaurant and Longhorn Stake House. But I have never attempted to make them my self..

  8. I don’t care for the baked beans in the can. I always make my own. Whenever we grill I make baked beans and cold slaw to go with it.

  9. that’s so funny because I have always been around baked beans. My family was never really cowboy people or living on a farm kind of people but for every event or side dish there was always baked beans. I don’t really have a liking for them now. I think it’s because we always had them.

  10. I love any kind of beans, except lima beans! I especially love beans in soup! I love being reminded of beans and cowboys though! You rarely hear of cowboys without a can of beans around a campfire! I wonder what they did before cans were invented??? I guess they had them in a jar or something! Thanks for the reminder, Donna!!

  11. Welcome back, Donna! We love it when you come. Gives us a chance to sort of catch up and see what you’re doing. I love beans. Any and all kinds. If it wasn’t for beans and potatoes, I wouldn’t have made it growing up. And usually when we had beans we also had a big hunk of cornbread to eat with it. Yummy. The cowboys wouldn’t have made it either without beans. They could eat them cold or warm over a campfire. Very versatile.

    Wishing you lots and lots of success with your new book!

  12. Thanks for sharing the recipe. They sound really good. I like all kinds of beans. When i was growing up, my Mother would make a kidney bean salad that was really tasty.
    I loved reading LaVeryl’s books and i remember that particular one. My favorite of hers was TWICE LOVED. It is still on my keeper shelf with a few others.

  13. Having grown up in northeastern NY, practically New England, baked beans were a common side dish. This recipe, without the ketchup and barbecue sauce, is similar to what was made in our neighborhood. The onion was always left whole and placed in the center of the pot of beans. As it cooked it softened and was easily distributed throughout the beans when served. “Fancy Molasses”, Brer Rabbit brand of course, at least at our house. The big debate about bean recipes in our area was do you use maple syrup, brown sugar, or molasses. Never, never was a tomato based product included or they would become barbecue beans and not baked beans.

    I don’t have a Kindle so don’t include me in the drawing.

  14. Our home recipe didn’t have ketchup and bbq sauce either, but I like the zip they add. 🙂

    Who said they don’t soak their beans? A lot of times I forget, but I just make sure I boil them a good hour or more. 😉

    And Hilltop Farm Wife: YES TO THE WHOLE ONION! That’s how we always did it too. And it does make it rather easy for those people who don’t like onion, because it’s in a big honkin’ piece in the middle. LOL

  15. RE: Fancy Molasses. I add that because the odd slip has been known to happen – aka Blackstrap Molasses, which is so bitter! LOL. Around here, the brand to buy is Crosby’s.

  16. Those sound delicious!! I love them at picnics with a hot dog…that is what summer is all about. Would love to win.

  17. Oh, my, your recipe for beans is exactly how I make them except I do cut up the onion first. I’ll have to try the whole onion thing, and I do use navy beans. I cook them in crock pot since my little electric bean pot got broken. I love them as a side dish for ham or barbecue. Instead of molasses, I sometimes use maple syrup. Depends on what I have on hand.

  18. I almost didn’t read the entire blog until I saw LaVyrle Spencer’s name mentioned and decided anyone that can recall her books deserves a read, lol. Love her writing and was so sad when she stopped. P.S. I have every book she wrote. 🙂

  19. Just wanted to say Howdy to ya’ll. Wanted you to know I was here, but most times when I make it lately it is a ebook, which I can’t use. Have a wonderful Sunday. GOD BLESS. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  20. Dee – I do too. LaVyrle is my fave writer of all time and VOWS was the first Romance I ever read. I miss having new books to read, but I go back and re-read a lot. My books are all falling apart! LOL.

  21. When I hear cowboys & baked beans in a sentence, I can’t help but think of Blazing Saddles! I don’t eat them, but my husband doesn’t like hot dogs unless there are baked beans to go with it!

  22. I love baked beans. Sometimes my Mom will brown and crumbles hamburger meat inside the baked beans. Give me a bowl and spoon, I’m happy. Would love to win your book. Thank you for entering me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

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