CrockPot Cowboy Stew Recipe

July 15, 2018

Cowboy stew is a fun, tangy recipe that is super delicious and easy to make. This recipe used canned potatoes -- which to my kids look like dinosaur eggs! You can make it super spicy by adding lots of jalapeños, or you can tone it down.

Feel free to add lots of cheese and sour cream, too! Originally posted during my Year of Slow Cooking challenge.

Day 197.

Cowboy stew is a fun, tangy recipe that is super delicious and easy to make. This recipe used canned potatoes -- which to my kids look like dinosaur eggs! You can make it super spicy by adding lots of jalapeños, or you can tone it down.

This recipe came from Headless Mom, and the second I read it I knew I needed to make it because I liked the name. 

I am excited to meet Headless Mom at the BlogHer conference in a few days to see if she looks in person the way that I have imagined her to. 

Probably not. I envision a Headless Horseman character, but instead of a pumpkin tucked under her neck, it's a Donna Reed-type mom with pearls.

[link to the Headless Mom site removed; it's no longer active.]

Now we're all going to have nightmares...

but not over this stew. This stew is hearty and has a nice kick to it; real comfort food.

There are two ingredients pictures because I got a bit overwhelmed answering and reading email yesterday and forgot to put some stuff in there at first. 

You guys are so much fun. And a little bonkers.

The Ingredients.

This is such a tasty and easy crockpot recipe! It uses pantry staples and if you pay attention at the grocery store the entire pot costs less than $5!

Serves about 8

1 pound browned hamburger (can use turkey)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
2 cans whole baby potatoes, drained (unless you can find a great big can of potatoes)
1 can tomatoes with green chilies (rotel)
1 can Ranch Style beans (with the baked beans in the grocery store) (or see recipe below)
1 cup water

--sliced jalapeno peppers for garnish (optional)

The Directions.

This makes a lot. Make sure that your crockpot is at least 5qts.

Brown the hamburger with the chopped garlic cloves on the stove top. Drain the fat. Let sit in the pan for a bit to cool.

Open all of you cans, and dump them into the crockpot. Drain the corn and the potatoes, but add the rest of the can liquid to the crockpot.

After adding all of the can contents, add the browned meat and a cup of water. Stir with a spoon to mix a bit.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5. Soup and stew tastes better the longer you cook it, so opt for the longer cooking time if you can.

Garnish with sliced jalapeno peppers, if desired.

Recycle your cans!

Can't Find Ranch Beans at your grocery store? No Problem!!
simply mix together:

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans (plus the goop!)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin

The Verdict.

I had never before bought canned potatoes, or the Ranch Beans, which intrigued me about this recipe. 

Headless Mom says that if you use "real" potatoes they will disintegrate in the crockpot. 

I believe she's right. These stayed perfectly oval in shape, and looked like baby dinosaur eggs.

I really liked the flavor of this stew. It reminded me of taco soup, but the flavors were more subtle. I liked the texture of the broth vs. the chunky ingredients.

The kids picked out what they wanted, and didn't complain. They really liked the beans, and thought the floating potatoes were cool. We will have this for lunch for quite a few days.

Adam and I both wanted a sliced jalapeno in each bite---they gave a really nice tangy spice to the meal.

Thank you, Headless Mom! We will definitely make this again!

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at July 15, 2018
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  1. I will definitely be making this one soon. I have a question on your blog (and others). How do you do the thing where you type a word, and it links to a site, or to an older post?

  2. Hi Carrie,

    when you are creating a post, open a new window in your web browser to find the page (or older post) that you wish to highlight. Copy the URL. Then, in your blog post, highlight the word that you wish to have connected to the URL. Then click on the icon above the posting window in Blogger that looks like a little silver chain link. A box will open. Paste the copied URL in that box, and click done or save or whatever it is that makes it know you did it.

    it's fun to do!

  3. Oh my goodness, I am learning to use my crockpot more and you have inspired me! It does make a difference in how the kitchen stays much cooler than when cooking in an oven.

    THANKS for your work! I will definitely be back!

    sharon in alabama :)


  4. I just love your blog

    Shelly Hobson

  5. Have you considered making a cookbook of all the recipes you deemed good? I would be interested in that format.

    ilanaeid AT yahoo DOT com --- please enter me! Thanks.

  6. I love your sense of humor and your recipes. I will be using my crockpot more than ever now!

  7. This looks yummy!

    I just made your bread pudding last night, except that I cut the recipe in half and used some leftover banana bread I had. It was great!!! Thanks for your wonderful blog full of wonderful recipes.

  8. Please enter me in the crockpot drawing: geolet12 @

    I am enjoying your blog, thanks for the great recipes!

  9. Ooops! Entered my comment on the wrong post.

    I do love your blog, that can easily be repeated.

  10. I have been reading every day since seeing you on TV. I remember cowboy stew from Scout Camp. I would like to be

  11. Another great recipe! Please enter me in the drawing!

  12. Glad it turned out so good! Thanks for the linky luv.

    Can't wait to see you--IN 2 DAYS!

  13. This sounds great, except I think I'd still go for real potatos. I'd just cube or something. And I'd use frozen corn, unless I had a can hanging around. This sounds like a great make ahead camping recipe. I'm always looking for more of those!

  14. Please enter me in the crockpot drawing: I have yet to use a crockpot but would love to start.

  15. I had to tell you, I tried making your Crockpot Cheesecake yesterday. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This recipe is to die for! I just had to write about it on my blog. Here's the link if you want to check it out

  16. I have just found your blog and have been watching it for a couple of days. I am going to try this recipe and the dinosaur reference is perfect. I will tell my kids its dinosaur soup or something fun like that.

  17. This sounds really good. I will have to try this. I got my crock pot out today for the first time in a while afte watching u on Rachell Ray.

  18. I am so excited about the new recipes you are sharing that I can try with my family! My favorite crock-pot recipe is FROZEN (or thawed) chicken breasts and a large can of cream of chicken soup. Let it cook on low all day. Serve over cooked rice.You'll be amazed at how good this tastes and how tender the chicken is!
    Thanks for all your ideas!

  19. Love your blog! I have a couple of crockpot cookbooks but the variety of dishes you post is much better. When your year is up you should put your entire blog into a cookbook form and make a bazillion bucks.

    Thanks so much!


    Oh and could you please enter me into your crockpot drawing?

  20. This gives me a great idea: Dinosaur Egg Soup!

    Maybe if my boys think they are eating dinosaur babies I can actually get them to eat non-fried potatoes. =)

  21. I have been looking for a website like this for the longest time. Just moved into a house 6 mos. ago and still don't have a stove...but I have my old crockpot and can't wait to try your recipes! Please enter me into your contest


  22. I just 'heard' bout you from another blog. Am excited to look over your recipes. I want some new CP recipes so I can spend less time cooking and more time quilting. It would be great to win a new crockpot.

  23. Love your Blog!!

  24. I love this website and would love to win a crockpot! My email address is

  25. I would really love to win a crockpot! My email address is

  26. I would love to win a crockpot. My email address is

  27. Well, let me just say we tried the Thai Chicken and now my husband want to do the Indian Dish. He is from India- so the crockpot reminds him of the pressure cooker- which I can not use worth a darn. So, he is loving me at least trying to cook things he is use too. Thanks so much.

  28. So sorry, forgot to leave my email address.

  29. This looks like lot of fun! I'm a veggie, so I'll try it with TVP, but I'm pretty sure it will work great. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  30. Just an hour ago I cut two pounds of potatoes into big chunks and tossed them into my crockpot with a carton of organic mushroom broth. (Guess who's cleaning the cupboard?) I thought the taties might turn into complete mush, but if so I think I'll blend it and call it...I dunno, some fancy name for Thick Potato and Mushroom Soup. :)
    Your recipe sounds much more fun!

  31. I fixed your spotlight post that I wrote to say that you did save a lot of money by crockpotting!

  32. I would love to make this bc I LOVE Ranch Style Beans but I live in Virginia now and can't find them so my mom mails me some from Texas every few months and I am currently out, but I WILL make it!

  33. wow love the recipe great idea thanks

  34. I have been following your blog since last week when you were on Rachel. Eaxactly what I ahve been looking for!!! I get bored with making the same ol same ol in my crockpot.

    I could really use a new one since mine is about 7 years old, on its second liner and heats up the kitchen when I use it.

  35. This is in my crockpot as we speak!

  36. Sounds yummy. The canned potatoes are Irish potatoes and I have used them with success in crockpots. Amazing that they stand up so well.
    I hope you do a cookbook. I for one would buy it. thanks.

  37. Just found your blog in our local newpaper write-up. Great stuff. Thanks for the inspiration

  38. I've used potatoes in my crock pot potroast a number of times and they come out crumbly and tender but still together enough that I would go ahead and use the real ones.

  39. I love Ranch Style Beans! LOVE THEM! I am from Texas and when we first moved to SC I had a hard time finding them. The can looks different-I use them in my chili too. I remember walking into the grocery store and looking everywhere and when I finally asked the lady looked at me like I was from Mars. Glad we have them now. My little girl likes to eat them right out of the can. I can't wait to try this!


  40. I love your website and read it everyday. Please enter me into the drawing -


  41. I am afraid of jalapenos, and my hubby isn't fond of spicey. How do you think this would be w/out the jalapenos in it?

  42. I like a mild flavor, so I am unsure if I would try this. My 3 yr old would probably not like the jalapeno in it, either. I also wonder if there is a milder substitute for that ingredient.

  43. i cant wait till tomorrow night when i get my very first crockpot which i bought on my bday. i bought it last july 12 and placed it on presale now i have to wait till july 16 to get it but just the same im so excited to read the could publish a book when the 365th recipe is done...cant wait for tomorrows recipe
    and my mini crockpot coz i cant afford the big one yet

  44. Hiya Steph, summer break (yeah) and I was watching Rachel when you were on discussing your crock pot resolution. Your recipes look delish and you have inspired me to try this method of cooking once again. Previous attempts left my son feeling so so about the food. He said it all tasted the same and didn't care for crock pot food. But after watching you I may have to repurchase one (unless one of those 10 end up in this teachers house - hehe) and follow a few recipes.
    Unfortunately I don't have recipes to share - this year, but wanted to thank you for the inspiration.

  45. I've always looked at canned potatos and wondered what you'd use them in; now I guess I know. Must track down ranch beans now. I made a new gluten free friend yesterday and sent her over here. Yes, I too have a crock pot that's older than me and would love a new one. I'm Casandra Wilkins

  46. Steph, your site is motivating me to pull out the crockpot. I have been lazy lately!

    My is always how the heck am I going to getting the kids to eat foods that are all mixed together? Then part of my brain tells me to just start doing it and they'll figure out that this is just the way it is sometimes.

    Even so, I don't think I'll start with the cowboy beans recipe - I know I would love it. But the jalapenos would be too much for them, I'm sure...

    Maybe I'll do cheeseurger soup this week...

  47. Always look forward to your emails this recipe, will make soon!

    Please enter me

  48. I am really enjoying your blog! And what great recipes I'm collecting. This one really sounds good. I plan on trying it myself next week. Thanks so much!

  49. I would love to be entered in this contest! What a wonderful site.

    lighthouse.lover at gmail dot com

  50. I'm in the same boat with the ranch-style beans. :( My in-laws are going to Texas in 2 weeks to visit my BIL, so I totally need to have them bring back some beans. :) They used to sell them here (in Delaware), but they have slowly disappeared over the years. I guess I should stock up from Texas family!

  51. ~Your blog is so fun to read and now there's a giveaway? Awesome!!! I'm in! queen of the rat hole at yahoo dot com. Remove spaces ;-)~

  52. Please enter me! I love my crockpot more and more. Thanks

  53. love your blog, would love the crockpot!

  54. I hope I can still win a crockpot!

    cptray@ bellsouth. net

  55. This was great. I made this two days ago and there just wasn't enough of it everyone wanted more. My picky toddlers even ate it. I had to give the recipe to my mom who happened to be there when I made this.

    I am so addicted to your site now and will be making crockpot meals at least several times a week. I work fulltime and have no time to cook after work and we have been eating fast but not that great tasting meals, but that will change. Thank you so much for doing this.

  56. I really enjoyed this. I couldn't find baby size canned potatoes, so I cut them in half. They still seemed huge in the bowl, but tasty. It made a HUGE amount too. So easy to make...yummy!

  57. oh I should add too that I don't think they sell ranch-style beans here in BC. I used some other beans in sauce. It was still good, but the next time I'm across the border I will look for some ranch- style:-)

  58. Made this today for dinner. Everyone loved it. My DH had 4(!) helpings. That's a lot, even for him. Thanks for posting the fall favorites. We are trying apricot chicken tomorrow....

  59. I made this the other day, and my husband actually liked it! LOL... I don't have much luck trying new things on him. Thanks!

  60. I have the Cowboy in the crockpot right now and I can't wait to try it! I also signed up for your newsletter and bought your book the other day! Thanks!

  61. Hello Stephanie - could you use the drained liquid from the corn & potatoes as part of the 1 cup of water you add to the recipe?

    Sounds delish & I wish I'd seen your blog when this draw was still going on.

    Keep up the good work

  62. Hi Ruby,

    Absolutely! that's a fantastic idea. If you're watching your sodium it might be too much, but I think the flavor will be great.


  63. this was fantastic. I forgot the garlic but I am not sure it mattered too much. Everyone really enjoyed it. Thanks for being an inspiration. I spent my whole day yesterday going through both of your cookbooks and trying to decide what new stuff we will try this next couple weeks. I am happy to say we are having more new meals than our standard stuff. Soooo THANKS :-)

  64. My husband made this for dinner tonight - and it was a hit!

    I had no idea what it would taste like and it was kind of a cross between a soup and a chili. We tried it plain and with the pickled jalapeno slices - we liked it more with the jalapeno. It gave a brightness, with a touch of spice, that was really nice!

    Now, as it's just the two of us, the next test will be - how does it freeze? : )

  65. This was a delicious, hearty meal. I like it even more than Taco Soup because the flavors are mild. I cooked it on the stovetop instead of my slow cooker to speedup the time. I also used Ranch Style Beans with Jalapeños and 2 peeled, chopped baked potatoes instead of the canned dinosaur eggs. I like the fresh potatoes better. Cooked for 1 1/2 hrs on low heat. Terrific! I'll definitely make this again for my family. Thank you for the recipe!

  66. do you need to brown the ground meat first if you are using really low-fat turkey? I know in a few other recipes you put it in raw and it still works out. I know this thread is ooollllldddd but maybe someone will see my question and answer! and yes, I LOVE your blog too, it has changed our dinner life, really! bought the cookbook too, may have to get the other one. and I'm not even fishing for a free crockpot :-)

  67. Hi Andrea,
    no, you don't need to. The browning beforehand is to just get rid of the extra oil. The meat will cook just fine in the pot with all the other stuff. Crumble it in, and stir well so you don't end up with a turkey meatloaf in the middle. :-0

  68. This was a good recipe. We weren't satisfied with the jalepenos though, so we upgraded to a habenero. In case anyone uses this pepper, I recommend using Nitrile gloves to cut this and avoid rubbing around your face since the oil can remain in your skin or on fomites and can burn like the Devil!
    Thanks again for this recipe!

  69. Since I don't have any sensitive mouths to worry about, I'm wondering if it would be OK to just throw the jalapenos in and let them cook right along with the rest of the stew. Thoughts?

  70. hi Anon, sure thing! They are pickled in the jar and aren't all that spicy but will steam in the soup and release the heat.
    I'd probably do 1 to 2 tablespoons.


  71. Stephanie,
    Can you freeze the recipes after slow cooking? I ask because I am doing freezer meals for my in-laws.

    My mom always used Ranch beans in her homemade chili - a must!

    Thank you for sharing,

  72. Hi Kimberly, yes! they freeze and reheat well after cooking. not a problem at all! enjoy!


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