Delicious Chuck Wagon Beans Recipe for Your Next BBQ

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of beans. But, let’s be honest, cooking dried beans can be a real hassle. That’s why I’m excited to share my recipe for Chuck Wagon Beans made in an Instant Pot.

This dish brings together the flavors of smoked sausage and tender beef brisket with the comforting texture of pinto beans, all simmered in tomato sauce and spices like oregano and cumin. It’s the perfect meal for a cozy night in or an easy weeknight dinner.

The chuck wagon cook, who traveled the Wild West with cattle drives, didn’t have an Instant Pot like we do today but this recipe channels that same spirit of cowboy-style cooking. So, grab your pot and join me as we rustle up some delicious chuck wagon beans in no time at all.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Chuck Wagon Beans - Instant Pot
Chuck Wagon Beans – Instant Pot

If you’re anything like me, you love a hearty and flavorful meal that doesn’t take all day to make. That’s where this Chuck Wagon Beans recipe using the Instant Pot comes in.

Let me tell you, these cowboy beans are the perfect combination of smoky, spicy, and savory flavors. With ingredients like ground beef, smoked sausage, and thick-cut bacon, how could they not be? And thanks to the Instant Pot’s pressure-cooking magic, the dried pinto beans come out perfectly cooked and tender in just 30 minutes.

But perhaps what makes this recipe truly irresistible is its versatility. You can easily switch up the ingredients to suit your taste preferences – sub in kidney beans or add some canned corn for a Tex-Mex twist. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any leftover meat or veggies you may have on hand.

But don’t just take my word for it – give these Chuck Wagon Beans a try and see for yourself why they’re such a beloved classic.

Ingredient List

 The perfect comfort food for any time of the year
The perfect comfort food for any time of the year

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to assemble for some incredible, belly-filling cowboy beans:

  • 2 lbs of beef brisket or ground beef
  • 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 lb dry pinto beans, or a mix of pinto and kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 16 oz tomato sauce


  • Beef bacon, thick-cut and chopped
  • Salt pork
  • Canned beans such as black beans or chili beans
  • Corn
  • Brown sugar

Tip: Soaking dried beans overnight before adding them to the instant pot will greatly reduce cooking time. If you’re short on time, set your Instant Pot to “Saute” mode and add the soaked beans to the pot with 6 cups of water. Cook on high pressure for about 30 minutes. However, if you cook dried beans too quickly they can become tough before they are cooked through. Check the beans after 15 minutes of pressure cooking for tenderness; if they’re still hard, add another cup of water and continue cooking on high pressure in 5-minute intervals until done.

The Recipe How-To

 Set it and forget it: easy preparation with an Instant Pot
Set it and forget it: easy preparation with an Instant Pot

Get ready to cook your own Chuck Wagon Beans! This recipe is going to take you for a Texan ride, so put on your cowboy hat and apron and jump right in.


To make this beloved meal, you will need:

  • 1 pound of dry Pinto beans
  • 2 lbs beef brisket cut into cubes
  • 1 pound smoked sausage sliced into rounds
  • 6 oz beef bacon thick cut, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 cups cold water

Step 1: Prep the Pressure Cooker

Firstly, add the dry pinto beans on the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place beef brisket cubes, sliced sausage, and chopped beef bacon over the beans.

Step 2: Layering the Vegetables

Next, layer the diced onions and minced garlic. Pour in the tomato sauce and then sprinkle with ground cumin, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes (if desired), and salt.

Step 3: Add Water

Pour in 6 cups of cold water over everything. Gently stir to mix ingredients without disturbing beans’ position at the bottom since overcooked beans can still end up hard.

Step 4: Cooking Time

Set Instant Pot to “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode for high pressure, set timer to cook for “30 minutes”. Ensure lid is closed properly then allow pot to come to pressure before processing.

Step 5: Natural Release

After cooking is complete let it naturally release pressure for “15 minutes”, then depressurize it completely.

Step 6: Serve and Enjoy

Finally, give it a good stir and serve hot. Enjoy your delicious Chuck Wagon Beans that even John Wayne would approve of!

Reminder: If the beans are still hard after releasing pressure, add more water and cook for another 5-10 minutes.


This recipe yields 12 servings which is perfect for a large dinner party or meal-prepping. You can serve them as is or pair with some cornbread or chili mac to complete the meal.


Now that you have the recipe for the famous Chuck Wagon Beans, it’s time to try it out for yourself. This dish will be sure to give a hearty meal that is full of flavor in every bite. Don’t forget to mark this recipe as your favorite because once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to regular baked beans. Happy cooking!

Substitutions and Variations

 A hearty meal that is sure to satisfy everyone in the family
A hearty meal that is sure to satisfy everyone in the family

Listen up, fellow cowboys and cowgirls! If you’re looking to mix things up with your Instant Pot Cowboy Beans, there are plenty of substitutions and variations that can change the flavor and style of this classic chuck wagon dish.

First off, if you’re not a fan of beef brisket or smoked sausage, you can always swap them out for other protein options. Ground beef, bacon, or salt pork are all great substitutes that will give your beans a meaty and savory taste.

For those who prefer their food with a little kick, try adding in some diced green chilies or jalapenos instead of crushed red pepper flakes. You can also experiment with different beans such as kidney beans or black beans in place of pinto beans to create unique variations of this dish.

If you want to add some sweetness to balance out the smoky flavors, add a bit of brown sugar or molasses. Alternatively, some corn can be thrown in for an extra crunchy texture and natural sweetness.

For vegans and vegetarians, skip the meat and use vegetable broth instead of water for a hearty and flavorful vegan version. And the best part is that all these variations can be made in the Instant Pot with minimal effort and maximum flavor!

No matter what substitutions or variations you choose, remember that cowboy beans are meant to be a deliciously hearty and filling meal. So don’t be afraid to get creative and personalize your recipe to your own taste!

Serving and Pairing

 Beans, beans, and more beans!
Beans, beans, and more beans!

Once your chuck wagon beans are ready, it’s time to serve and savor the flavors. These hearty cowboy beans make a delicious and filling main course that is sure to leave everyone satisfied. They are perfect for a cowboy themed party, barbecue, or potluck and are always a hit with guests.

To serve these tasty beans, scoop them into individual bowls and garnish them with some fresh cilantro, sour cream, or lime wedges. You can also top them with some shredded cheese or sliced jalapenos if you like your food spicy. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Since these cowboy beans are so flavorful, they pair well with a wide variety of sides. For a more substantial meal, consider serving them with some cornbread, rice, or tortilla chips. If you want to keep things simple, try pairing them with a light salad or some steamed vegetables. A refreshing cold beverage like iced tea or lemonade will complement the richness of the beans.

These chuck wagon beans also make great leftovers and are a staple for meal prep enthusiasts. You can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for several months. Reheat them slowly on the stove or in the microwave until they are heated through.

No matter how you choose to serve and pair these delicious cowboy beans, they are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A one-pot meal that saves you time and effort
A one-pot meal that saves you time and effort

As someone who loves meal planning and prepping, I can assure you that these Chuck Wagon Beans work incredibly well for make-ahead dishes. You can easily double or triple this recipe, store them in the fridge or freezer, and reheat them before serving.

To make ahead, allow the dish to cool down and transfer it to an airtight container. These beans will last up to 5 days in the fridge or 2-3 months in the freezer.

For reheating, gently thaw frozen beans by transferring them from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can reheat them on the stovetop over low heat or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave.

If you find that your cowboy beans are too thick after reheating, try thinning them out with a bit of chicken or beef broth. You could also stir in a bit of tomato sauce if you prefer your cowboy beans a bit saucier. No matter how you choose to reheat your Chuck Wagon Beans, be sure not to overcook them as they may become mushy and lose their texture.

Pro Tip: One of my favourite ways to use leftover cowboy beans is to make chili mac! All you need is some cooked macaroni pasta and canned tomatoes – mix it all together and voila – a whole new dish using yesterday’s leftovers!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Be prepared for your taste buds to explode!
Be prepared for your taste buds to explode!

To achieve the perfect chuck wagon beans with an Instant Pot, here are some tips:

First, don’t overcook the beans. It can be tempting to set the pressure cooker for a longer time period to make sure that the beans are cooked through, but this can result in mushy or overcooked beans. Keep in mind that if the beans are still hard after cooking, you can always put them back on high pressure for additional minutes.

Secondly, hold off on adding salt until the end of the cooking process. Salt can cause the beans to become tough, particularly if they are not cooked properly or have been soaked for too long.

Third, consider soaking your dried pinto beans. While it’s not required, it will help speed up the cooking process and can make the beans more tender.

Fourth, use thick-cut bacon or salt pork for extra flavor. These meats release flavorful oils as they cook which adds a depth of flavor to the dish.

Fifth, use canned tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes for a smoother texture. This ingredient will help thicken the sauce and bind everything together.

Lastly, allow your chuck wagon beans to rest before serving. The flavors will meld and develop even further as they sit, resulting in a more delicious dish.


Many might experience a few challenges in the process of making Chuck Wagon Beans. It’s important to have a clear understanding of the recipe and know what to do when encountering difficulties. Here are some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers to help you navigate through the process with ease.

How long does it take beans to cook in an Instant Pot?

To cook the beans, I suggest using a pressure cooker on high pressure for either 30 minutes if the beans have not been soaked or 15 minutes if they have beforehand. Once the cooking time is complete, allow the Instant Pot to release the pressure naturally for an additional 15 minutes. Afterwards, release any remaining pressure quickly and safely before opening the lid.

What is the ratio of beans to water in Instant Pot?

Cooking beans in the instant pot requires a simple approach. First, add the desired amount of beans to the pot, and then ensure that there is 2 to 3 times as much water as the amount of beans used. For instance, if you are using 1 cup of unsoaked beans, the accompanying water should be around 2 to 3 cups. It is crucial to ensure that the beans are fully submerged to ensure even cooking.

Can you overcook beans in Instant Pot?

If you find that your beans are still tough after their initial cook, an additional 5 minutes may do the trick. However, be wary of cooking them for too long, as excessively cooked beans can result in a mushy texture that falls apart easily. It’s important to exercise caution when cooking beans, particularly if you don’t plan on consuming them immediately.

How long does it take to cook 2 lb of beans in an Instant Pot?

If you’ve been wondering how to cook a large batch of pinto beans in your Instant Pot, I’ve got you covered. All you need is 2 lbs of dry pinto beans, 1 tbsp of salt and 10 cups of water. Simply set the Instant Pot to High pressure and cook for 50 minutes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a hearty and flavorful meal that can satisfy even the biggest appetites, then chuck wagon beans are definitely worth considering. With their savory blend of beef brisket, smoked sausage, bacon, and beans cooked to perfection in an Instant Pot, slow cooker or pressure cooker, this dish is a classic that has stood the test of time.

Not only is it quick and easy to make, but it also allows for many variations and can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences. Whether you like your beans spicy or mild, with ground beef or bacon – you can tailor this recipe to fit your personal style.

So whether you’re hosting a Western-themed party, heading out on a camping trip or simply need a filling meal for dinner tonight – these chuck wagon beans are sure to be a hit. So get out that Instant Pot or slow cooker and start cooking up a pot of cowboy comfort food that will keep everyone happy and satisfied!

Chuck Wagon Beans - Instant Pot

Chuck Wagon Beans - Instant Pot Recipe

These beans are great anytime. A friend of mine claims to be a "bean expert" and said these are the best he has had. They freeze well. *** Meats can vary. Try roll sausage such as Jimmy Dean.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 Bowls
Calories 135.9 kcal


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 4 cups cold water (for cooking)
  • 8 slices cooked bacon (or 8 ounces salt pork)
  • 12 ounces beef brisket or 12 ounces smoked sausage
  • 1 large poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (I use Mexican oregano)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce


  • Brown bacon or salt pork in a heavy skillet. Remove from skillet; strain bacon, but reserve grease.
  • Cook onion, pepper, and garlic in pork grease until tender. Strain if desired.
  • Combine all ingredients in a pressure cooker.
  • Be sure there is enough liquid to cover all ingredients.
  • Select bean setting and cook at normal high pressure for 30 minutes.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 220gCalories: 135.9kcalCarbohydrates: 9.6gProtein: 12.7gFat: 5.9gSaturated Fat: 1.8gCholesterol: 28.2mgSodium: 717.8mgFiber: 1.1gSugar: 1.5g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beans, For Large Groups, Low Cholesterol, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Very Low Carbs
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