By Cassie Johnston
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The recipe was originally published in September 2011. It was retested with reader feedback, rephotographed, rewritten, and republished for your enjoyment in October 2017.
As a kid, I had a very specific list of foods I didn’t like. Some of them have stuck around in that “yuck” category into adulthood (I’m still just barely starting to tolerate flavors like ginger and soy sauce), but the vast majority of foods on my childhood dislike list have happily found themselves on my weekly grocery list. In fact, some of them I even consider some of my favorite foods (onions, mustard, sauerkraut—hi, can you tell I have German heritage?).
One food that I always moaned, groaned, and pitched a fit when I saw it simmering away on the stove was ham and beans. As a kid, something about the soft and tender beans and salty ham made me want to go running for the hills. A few times a year, Mama would try out ham and beans on me again, and every time, without fail, I’d try a bite and my face would contort into some sourpuss look. No dice.
She stopped even trying sometime in middle school. And honestly, I hadn’t really thought about ham and beans until I started a food blog! One of you awesome people requested I come up with some cheap dinner recipes and for some reason, the subconscious part of my brain immediately said, “ham and beans.”
Doesn’t that just sound like a cheap meal? And then, immediately after, my brain said, “But you don’t like ham and beans.” Which then totally confused my brain. Because I like ham. And I like beans. So how can I not like ham ‘n’ beans? My brain was smoking by this point.
So while visiting my parents, I took mental notes on Mama’s recipe and whipped up my own slow cooker batch. And guess what? I loved it. Move another food off the childhood hate list. You gotta make sure to serve this up with cornbread. And eat it curled up on the couch next to a roaring fire. Promise me.
5 from 2 reviews
This recipe is the epitome of cool weather comfort food and is the perfect dish to make the day after a big family ham dinner. Just remember to save the ham bone and reserve a bit of the meat!
Top the soup with sliced green onions and serve with a crusty slice of sourdough bread for the ultimate comfort food!
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Mmm. Love ham & beans. Haven’t had it in forever. Just saw a post about it on Pioneer Woman too. Must be in the air. My boyfriend will most definitely hate it (he hates beans and cornbread! crazy!!), but I’ve gotta try it.
It is definitely in the air! (Especially today. 52° what?!) And WHAT how can someone not like cornbread!? What does he not like about it!? I don’t understand!
My MIL used to make cornbread. She was health conscious, so she used some sort of artificial shortening, and nonfat milk instead of whole or lowfat, and instead of sugar she used artificial sweetener – not the kind used for baking, either. She made corn bricks. My daughter got sick off them, and ever since then, no matter how I make the corn bread, she still thinks of getting sick and can’t eat it. That’s why some people don’t like some foods. Me, I love cornbread, and even I couldn’t eat Grandma’s Corn Bricks.
Just my opinion, but cornbread with sugar or sweetner isn’t cornbread…Its cake…
I love sweet corn bread with really spicy chili, YUM!!!
I agree with Troy. Love cornbread, but don’t want it to be sweet!
I have ham n beans cooking in my crockpot right now. I had planned to bake cornbread as soon as I got home to go with it, but my oven broke last night. So that means I have to buy cornbread, but I can never find any in the grocery store that isn’t sweet. I don’t want it sweet.
IMHO cornbread should be made with Buttermilk and the only sweetener would be a tablespoon or two of honey.
Hmmmm… LOVE ham and beans…. I think I need to try this one out!
Where in the world did you get a programmable crockpot?? LOVE IT!!
From Target! I love it, too. :)
My crockpot is really easy to program. You just turn the program knob to Hi or low, and watch the clock!
Oddly enough, ham and beans was my “yuck face” food as a kid also, and now I love it. The cafeteria at work makes awesome ham and beans and I check the menu every day to see if it’s being served. Thanks for this; I think I’ll throw this in the slow cooker for tomorrow!
Hope you like it! :D
Your recipe looks smashing! Id have to add onions, sauerkraut, asparagus, and beans. Used to despise as a kid!
I am breaking in my new enameled Dutch Oven with your recipe, and the left over ham bone from Christmas. Thanks!
I make Ham and Beans all the time, but not in a slow cooker. I use ham shanks instead of ham hocks. I found out the ham hocks has a lot of fat which leaves the Ham and Beans greasy. Ham Shanks has a lot of ham with a little of fat.
I grew up with beans with ham hocks. Served with cornbread (sometimes Mexican cornbread) and fried potatoes and onions. Still love it today (MANY years later).
I cook my ham hocks with my beans in the slow cooker. When it comes time to seperate the bones from the hocks, a few small bones invariably fall out of the hocks into the beans making them very hard to find.
Is there a food grade mesh that I could wrap the hocks in, allowing the cooking to occur, and the flavor from the hocks to pass out of? A mesh small enough to catch the small bones? Sort of like a… tea infuser for cooking… much larger of course.
Would cheesecloth work, ya think? Or would the cheesecloth dissolve after a couple days of being in the crockpot?
Thank you in advance.
Hmm. I never had that issue, but I don’t see why cheesecloth wouldn’t work. Although admittedly, I’ve never had cheesecloth under that kind of heat for that long to see how it reacts. If you try it, see if you can find unbleached cheesecloth so you’ll have less chemicals seeping in.
Another option would be to scrap the ham hock all together and replace it with some thick cut chunks of bacon or salt pork.
My husband (the cook in the family) likes to use a pork steak. Talk about good!!
Mexican cornbread sounds good! How is it made?
I’ve had the problem of ham bone (or chicken bones if I cook chicken in slow cooker) falling apart and then there are bones everywhere. I take piece of cheese cloth and sew a bag (couple of seams on the cheese cloth), put the ham bone in there and tie the top with cooking twine. Works great! If/when the bones fall apart they are all in the bag. I just pull out the bag and get the meat off as per the recipe.
Yummm! So good. I hated carrots when I was young; now I eat them all the time. Maybe you should try Chinese food again. It doesn’t all taste the same, and you might find something you like.
I would love to try this recipe but your printer button keeps saying error along with a lot of code that I dont understand
I love Ham & Beans with sweet cornbread & butter. One food that made me GAG when I was a child was avocado–but now I eat them all the time. Another was any kind of cooked cereal and I still get nauseous even thinking about them.
When I bake a ham, I usually save the ham broth and freeze it down along with miscellaneous pieces of meat from the bone (including the bone. When it comes time to make ham and bean soup, the broth makes the beans so much more flavorful than water. Also, in lieu of Italian spices, I use a pint of Italian marinara in the soup. Lucious.
made this yesterday. I put in about twice the carrots called for as I had some I needed to use and it made the dish a tad sweet but we really enjoyed the beans with some cornbread and sauerkraut. mmmmm.
@Troy, You are so right! True southern cornbread does not have sugar in it!!!
I hated spinach as a child, because my parents boiled it, and it came out slimy! YUCK! Love it raw now, and in all kinds of dishes- quiche, salads, soups, etc. Love your blog. Nice to meet you. Keep up the good work! I fight the battle of the bulge too, and was born in the South, so many of these recipes ring familiar and yummy to me.
I’m making this tomorrow but could not find “smoked” ham hock at the store, just bought a regular ham hock. Hope thats okay. Seemed like it had the skin still on it?? Super yuck, my squeamish husband just trimmed that all off so its just meat and bone now. I just hope this all turns out well in the end lol
If it’s in the grocery store, it’s probably already smoked. And leave the skin on! It adds a ton of flavor.
Are the beans drained after soaking and before putting them in slow cooker? Can you use other kinds of beans, or just the listed beans in the recipe? can you leave out the carrots, because my husband don’t like carrots especially in ham ‘n’ beans?
Yes, drain the beans before the go in the slow cooker. And yes, you can use whatever beans you want. And just leave out the carrots.
I’m gonna try this, but IMHO Chinese cuisine is superior to American food in terms of subtlety, flavor, diversity, history, etc… You should give it another try, but I understand that there may not be a lot of options in the Midwest.
I have this in the slow cooker right now. I tried it a few months ago and loved it. It’s so easy and delicious. I saved the bone and some meat from our ham to use and I didn’t add the Italian seasoning. I’ll try adding a little to a bowlful and see how we like that. I’m also going to try this with split peas instead of the beans for a little variety. Thank you so much for sharing this.
Gorgeous bowl o’ beans! I want to come to YOUR house for dinner!
I wouldn’t eat mashed potatoes – I have NO idea WHY!!! Now I LOVE them!
All of the foods I hated as a kid I still hate today — pancakes with sugar water syrup with imitation maple flavoring (Yuck), Kraft box macaroni and cheese (eeew), fresh whole dairy milk straight from the cow with unseparated cream (oh god yuck) poured over tasteless wheat puff cereal (gross), Peanut butter on cheap brown bread packed in an oversized grocery bag (just throw it in the trash on the way to school), I quit eating breakfast and lunch by age 13.
But my favorite food as a kid is still my favorite food — Tacos — in all it’s delicious varieties.
I despised beans growing up! There was just something about them that was not very appealing!
But now, I absolutely love them. My wife introduced me to Great Northern beans when we married. I rarely use salt pork and go with smoked ham hocks or a leftover ham bone if I have one in the freezer. I’ve not tried the Italian seasoning. I will do that tomorrow when I make this recipe!
After my dad had an accident and was disabled when I was a kid, we ate LOTS of ham & beans, I don’t know how, but it remains a favorite meal of mine. I enjoy it with bread & butter as much as cornbread. I ate so much spaghetti at the babysitter’s that I couldn’t eat it for years, but I still love me some ham & beans!
Thanks sounds great. I’m going to make soon
I made this last week, along with some pumpkin biscuits that, now that I think of it, maybe are also from your blog? They both were delicious, and the soup leftovers only get better. Thanks!
We love ham and beans! BUT, we can’t eat salty foods because of dietary restrictions. So I’m making our beans and I’m using pork loin for our meat. We do not add any salt to our meals and we don’t miss it at all.
This recipe of beans are really amazing and healthy for health. I love this
crumble the cornbread in a cup of cold milk…delicious*make sure the cornbread is cool…makes it taste so sweet*
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