Recipe: Old Settler’s Beans

This dish is an old standby I’ve been cooking since college. Fun story: my friends and I used to get together at our church’s college campus building and cook each week. It started as a way to educate one friend in the group on how to cook (“Is the beef supposed to turn brown??”), and only ended as we graduated and moved on from our college town.

This recipe was one of the first we started with, and was a particular winter favorite! One memorable snow day we all gathered on campus, played in the snow, and enjoyed a delicious bowl of Old Settler’s Beans. Now, it’s a staple in my family’s meal rotation. It’s so filling; when I eat the leftovers for lunch, it’s HOURS before I’m even a little hungry.

I know it’s technically spring now, but hello, I live in Chicago. So it’s still cold a lot of the time. Definitely still Old Settler’s Beans weather. Maybe, instead of lamenting the cold weather, you lean into it? These are our last moments of cold weather before that summer heat arrives! Just go with it, okay?

You can make these in a pot on the stove (our preferred method), or you can pop it into a crockpot and let them slow cook for a few hours. This dish can also be such a cheap meal if you use dry beans, soak them, and then put them in! I usually go with canned for convenience sake, but using dry beans is a great alternative.

I also often sub ground deer meat in for the ground beef. We usually have a freezer full of deer meat; this is an easy way to make this meal even more affordable, without the deer meat taste being an obstacle.

Enjoy! I can’t wait to see if you guys like this as much as my family does!

Old Settler’s Beans

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins


  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp molasses


  • Brown bacon and ground beef.
  • Add onion and sauté.
  • Add seasonings. Simmer in pot for as long as needed.

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Jess & Becca