This ham and beans recipe is the best way to use up leftover ham! Creamy white beans cook with diced ham, vegetables and seasonings to make a simple, yet totally satisfying dish that is sure to get rave reviews.
Ham and beans is a comfort food classic for good reason. It’s inexpensive, hearty and full of savory flavors. My version uses dried beans, and leftover ham to make a meal that is a total crowd pleaser. Add a side of cornbread and dinner is served!
How do you make ham and beans?
Start by soaking a pound of dry white beans overnight. Saute onions, carrots and celery in a large pot, then add the beans, a ham bone or hock, and an assortment of herbs and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender. Stir in chopped ham and cook for about 10 minutes more, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Do you have to soak beans?
It is not absolutely necessary to soak your dry beans before you use them. That being said, I prefer to soak my beans for this particular dish. Typically, beans that have been soaked cook more quickly than beans that have not been soaked. This matters here because we want the beans to get tender, but we don’t want the vegetables to overcook. So in this case, I do recommend doing the soak if you have the time.
Tips for the perfect dish
- You can use a leftover ham bone or a ham hock. If you use a leftover ham bone, reserve diced ham to add to the finished dish. If you go with a ham hock, you can cut the meat off the bone, then add it to the mix.
- This dish can also be made in the slow cooker. Place the ham bone, soaked beans, water, seasonings and herbs in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours, then stir in the ham and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then top with parsley and serve.
- Cut your carrots and celery into larger pieces so that they’ll hold up during the long simmering time.
- If your beans come with a seasoning packet, you can add it towards the end of the cook time if you like.
- Any size dry white bean will work, so feel free to choose your favorite.
Ham and beans flavor variations
This recipe is great as-is, but you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Meat: You can add other meat to this dish such as smoked sausage or bacon.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add other vegetables such as leeks, green bell pepper or a can of tomatoes.
- Beans: While this dish is often made with white beans such as the Great Northern variety, you can use other types such as a soup bean mix, lima beans, pinto beans or red beans.
More great ways to use leftover ham
- Cheesy Ham Casserole
- Ham and Bean Soup
- Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
- Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Baked Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
Ham and Beans Video
Ham and Beans
- 1 pound dry white beans such as Great Northern
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup onion diced
- 2 large carrots peeled, halved and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 ham bone or ham hock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups diced ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Return the soaked beans to the pot.
- Place the ham bone, thyme, rosemary, brown sugar and bay leaf in the pot.
- Pour the water into the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 60-90 minutes or until beans are tender.
- Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.
- Discard the ham bone. Stir in the diced ham. If you're using a ham hock, remove the hock, cut the meat off the bone and return the meat to the pot.
- Cook for another 10-15 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.