Grandma’s Five-Bean Hotdish

bean casserole The next time you are asked to bring something to a potluck dinner, do yourself a favor and make this dish! I have been making it for 26 years now…ever since I got married and inherited the recipe from my mother-in-law Dorothy. It’s a classic “hotdish” recipe from the extensive Norwegian Lutheran population that settled in the Fargo, North Dakota area.

Oddly enough, about the same time I received this recipe from my mother-in-law, my Dad’s long-time secretary Rose, who also happened to be from North Dakota, shared a similar recipe with me. After making both recipes, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I decided to combine the two!

The result is a bean dish that is always a hit no matter when or where I serve it. Decades of Norwegian Lutheran women from North Dakota can’t be wrong!


bean casserole


Grandma’s Five-Bean Hotdish

Grandma’s Five-Bean Hotdish


  • 1/2 lb. bacon (if you are in a hurry you can use pre-cooked)
  • 1 lb. ground beefed
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 can green beans (drained)
  • 1 can lima beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can yellow wax beans (drained)
  • 1 can pork and beans
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

(All the cans I use are roughly 16 ounces each, but if your can(s) are bigger or smaller, no worries….this recipe is very forgiving.)

bean casserole

Original recipes from Rose and Dorothy



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the ground beef, bacon and onion together until ground beef is no longer pink. Drain fat.



bean casserole bean casserole Transfer to large roasting pan and add the rest of the ingredients.


bean casserole bean casserole Stir together, cover, and cook for 1 hour.


bean casserole

This may SEEM like a summer picnic recipe, but trust me, no matter what time of year you serve this, you will have happy eaters! I’ve served this recipe at barbecues and picnics, church potlucks, and even holiday dinners to rave reviews.

Feel free to use whatever beans strike your fancy…you can’t really mess this up. Just throw all the ingredients in a big ol’ pot (or crockpot) and cook low and slow. Perfection.


What’s your favorite potluck recipe?

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  1. Laurie says

    Nice post.

    My Dad’s family hails from Fargo, ND. Norwegian Lutheran. :)

    We call this Calico Beans, Thanks for the reminder I haven’t made this in ages but on the menu now!

  2. Melissa says

    I make something similar as well. I got the recipe from my friend from Newfoundland and they call them Trainwrecker beans. It uses maple syrup instead of the brown sugar though. Gives it a great flavour and we have maple syrup in abundance at my house as my husband does syrup every spring.

  3. Tracy says

    Woke up to snow on the ground this morning, so this recipe came just in time! Looks wonderful!
    My favorite potluck dish is King Ranch Chicken Casserole. Made with Doritos, chicken and green chiles. So many different versions of it and its always results in bringing home an empty pan!

    • Chris says

      Tracy, You have to share your King Ranch Chicken recipe! The bean recipe looks yum, too! I always look for new recipes to take to the field for meals during harvest. Yesterday I did chili. I used the Chinet hot drink disposable cups with lids to give each guy. We order Styrofoam takeout containers online for other meals to transport. Anyone have any more ideas? p.s. Thanks, Jillee for a new recipe.

  4. Tracy says

    Would it be almost as good with maybe half the sugar? Or is that much necessary for it to be so tasty?

    • Billie says

      My recipe doesn’t have nearly that much ketchup or sugar. This is one of those recipes though that is super forgiving. Start with 1/2 cup or each and adjust to taste depending on what beans you use. I often use a can of Bush’s baked beans. Sometime the onion flavor, sometimes Griller’s, and the Maple would certainly need less sugar added.

    • RaShelle says

      Made it tonight and it was too sweet for my taste. I will definitely make it again with half the sugar.

  5. Penny says

    I have been making a similar recipe for 40 years. The person that gave me the recipe called it Calico Beans because of all the different colors. Isn’t that a pretty name! Yum!!!!!

    • Billie says

      We call it Calico Beans as well. I’ve never tried it with green or wax beans. Typically I use Bush’s baked beans, kidney, butter and pintos. I haven’t found a combination yet that I didn’t like.

  6. Kristi Tarnowski says

    I grew up 50 miles S of Fargo, in Pelican Rapids MN, and a favorite recipe from my Norwegian Lutheran Grandma is a similar 3 bean hot dish (pork ‘n beans, kidney and Lima beans, hamburger, bacon and onion) or whatever beans I have on hand (i am sure gma wouldn’t mind!) definitely a go to when it gets cooler-a good recipe for the crockpot!

  7. says

    I love this! Thank you. I’ve been looking for something different for the Holidays and this will be perfect for then and now.

  8. Kelley H says

    I grew up eating this for 40 years! We called it 4 Bean Burger Bake! I’m not a fan of kidney beans, so we use green, wax & baked beans. :). Yummy!!

  9. says

    I could have definitely used this today! Will bookmark it for the next time I have to bring a meal to church. Or I may just make it today ;)