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Ham Hocks and Beans

This Ham Hocks and Beans recipe is made using any white beans including pinto or navy. The meal is seasoned to perfection using smoked ham hocks and paired with classic cornbread.

pinto beans, ham hocks, and cornbread in a black bowl

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I’m a huge fan of the classic, old-fashioned recipes my mother and granny used to make. This is no exception.

What Type of Beans to Use

Any beans will work for this recipe. I use dry pinto beans. Pinto beans are a part of the family that includes navy, black, and kidney beans. They are found commonly throughout Southern and Mexican cuisine.

Most pinto beans have a tan or cream color along with reddish splotches. Pinto means painted or spotted and refers to the way the beans look.

The beans are a great source of fiber, protein, thiamine, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

dry pinto beans in a glass bowl

Do You Have to Soak the Beans Overnight?

This recipe uses dried beans. If you want to lower the cooking time you will need to soak them in advance. You have a couple of options. You can soak them overnight in a large bowl filled with water. Or you can boil a large pot of water on the stove. Once the temperature reaches boiling, remove the pot from heat and add the beans. Allow the beans to soak for at least one hour.

If you don’t soak the beans in advance, it will likely add a couple of hours to your cook time.

pinto beans and water in a Dutch oven

What Type of Meat to Use

Pork ham hocks aren’t very meaty. You should always look for the meatiest one you can find. It’s pork knuckle, where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg and is mostly fat and bone. It’s used frequently in bean recipes, red beans and rice, collard greens, black-eyed peas, etc. because of the delicious flavor it provides.

You can also use smoked turkey necks, smoked turkey wings, smoked turkey legs, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon.

ham hock, broth, and spices in separate bowls

Do You Cook the Ham Hock Before the Beans

You can boil it in water before cooking them with the beans if you wish, especially if you want to serve meat with the beans. This will soften it up, prior to cooking it along with the beans. I find that it softens up enough for me while the beans cook and isn’t necessary for me.

How to Make Ham Hocks and Beans

Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Place a Dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Add onions and garlic. Saute.
  3. Add chicken broth, pinto beans, ham hock, Creole seasoning, and bay leaf. Stir.
  4. Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer.
  5. Open up the pot and remove the bay leaf and ham hock.
  6. Cool before serving.
pinto beans in a Dutch oven
onions and olive oil in a Dutch oven
cooked pinto beans and ham hocks in a Dutch oven

What Kind of Stock/Broth to Use

I like to use chicken broth or stock. You can use either and you can use whatever you like, such as vegetable. You can also use water. Broth adds more flavor.

Cook Time/How Long Does it Take to Cook

Cook time will vary based on how you like to serve your beans. Do you like them firm, soft, or mushy? They will typically need anywhere from 1 1/2 hours – 3 hours depending on your texture preference. I like to cook mine for under 2 hours. I like for them to be soft, but not mushy.

You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.

a wooden spoon of pinto beans and ham hocks

Are They Served Whole or Mashed?

You decide. We typically eat ours whole, but if you want to mash them go ahead and do so after the beans have cooked.

How to Double the Recipe

You can double the recipe and use the same amount of ham hock or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same.

How to Make the Dish Vegan or Vegetarian

Omit the ham hock. Use vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for flavor.

pinto beans, ham hocks, and cornbread in a black bowl

How Long Will They Last in the Fridge

They will last 3-5 days in the fridge, tightly covered.

Freezer Tips

These will freeze for up to 9 months. This is a great hack. Be sure to store them tightly sealed. I like to leave them in the broth so that when I defrost they are loaded with flavor.

Pair With Cornbread

Homemade Southern Cornbread
Cornbread Muffins
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Honey Cornbread

Air Fryer Cornbread
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Pumpkin Cornbread
Cornbread Casserole
Sweet Potato Cornbread

Pair With These Side Dishes

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
Southern Collard Greens
Southern Turnip Greens
Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
Southern Mustard Greens

You can make these in a slow cooker using our Slow Cooker Crockpot Pinto Beans recipe.

Ham Hocks and Beans

This Ham Hocks and Beans recipe is made using any white beans including pinto or navy. The meal is seasoned to perfection using smoked ham hocks and paired with classic cornbread.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine Southern
Keyword ham hocks and beans, pinto beans and ham hocks, pinto beans recipe, Southern pinto beans
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 10 servings
Calories 314kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced.
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth Use enough to fully cover the beans.
  • 1 pound bag dried pinto beans Rinsed
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds ham hocks Fully cooked and typically smoked. See notes for substitutions.
  • 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  • Fill a Dutch oven or soup pot with water (enough to cover the pinto beans) and place it on the stove to boil. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and add the pinto beans. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour and then drain. Alternatively, you can soak the beans overnight.
  • Place a Dutch oven or soup pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  • When hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.
  • Add in the chicken broth, pinto beans, ham hock, Creole seasoning, and bay leaf. Stir.
  • Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1 1/2-3 hours until the beans are soft. You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork. Mine usually take 2 hours to reach my desired texture.
  • Open up the pot and remove the bay leaf and ham hock. If you like meat in your beans, use 2 forks and shred the meat from the ham hock and return it to the pot. Taste repeatedly and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  • Cool before serving. I like to use a slotted spoon to serve.

Notes

  • Not soaking the beans in advance will likely add a couple of hours to your cook time.
  • Rinse the beans first to remove any surface dirt.
  • Decide how you like your beans. Do you like them firm, soft, or mushy? Check in on the beans frequently while they cook. They will typically need anywhere from 1 1/2 hours – 3 hours depending on your texture preference. I like to cook mine for 2 hours. I like for them to be soft, but not mushy.
  • You can use smoked turkey a leftover ham bone, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon. 
  • You can double the recipe and use the same amount of ham hock or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same. 
  • You can substitute Creole seasoning for whatever flavor or spice blend you like.
  • Canned beans don’t take long to cook. You may want to cook your ham hock in broth for a couple of hours separately, and then add the canned beans to that pot.
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Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 23g
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Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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