How to Make Ham and Beans with a Leftover Ham Bone

What to do with that ham bone from the holiday ham? Freeze it to use later, if need be, you don't want to waste all that free flavor goodness! Better yet, here's how to make Ham and Beans, just good-for-you dried beans, a few vegetables, the right mix of dried herbs and the oh-so-important ham bone.

Ham and Beans

The best thing about ham for Sunday dinner? The Easter ham? The Christmas ham? It’s the day-after meal, a big pot of beans that’s simmered glug-glug all day with the ham bone.

Call me plebian but Ham & Beans rock my world. Show me a bowl of good beans and I’ll show you a woman happy to empty said bowl three meals a day.

I love how Ham & Beans change from one meal to the next. The first bowl, the beans and vegetables remain all distinct and individual. You can taste the carrots, you can see and taste the beans, but separately. The second bowl, the beans have turned cozy-creamy, the beans binding soft chunks of meat and carrot. By the third, the beans are a hammy sludge, decidedly un-pretty to look at but hearty and oh-so home-good satisfying.

HOW to QUICK-SOAK DRIED BEANS If there’s no time to soak the beans overnight, there’s an easy way to prepare the beans for cooking. Just rinse and pick through the beans, cover with cold water in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, leave the cover on and let rest for an hour. Drain before continuing.
ALANNA's TIPS I’ve made Ham & Beans with pinto beans, it’s just not as good. Make sure the beans have been purchased within the last couple of months, since old dried beans will cook and cook and cook but never soften enough to be more than barely edible. When the weather turns cool in the fall, I’ll check the pantry for last year’s beans and chuck them. It’s cheaper to throw away a dollar’s worth of beans than to cook all day and have nothing to eat for supper. If there’s an excess of chicken stock or turkey stock on hand, substitute all or part of the water for stock. If now’s not the time to cook something with the ham bone, freeze it for later. But don’t throw it away!


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes about 12 cups
  • 1 pound dried beans, preferably Great Northern beans or small white beans (see TIPS)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped small
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • Water to cover or up to 8 cups water (use less for thick beans, more for Ham & Bean Soup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 pound chopped leftover ham
  • Parsley, optional but looks pretty for pictures, tee hee

SOAK BEANS Rinse the beans under running water in a colander and pick through to remove any small stones or deformed beans. Transfer to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Rinse and drain.

OVEN Preheat oven to 225F. Combine the soaked beans, onion, ham bone, water and seasoning and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for about 3 hours. (If starting with 4 cups of water, check the beans every hour or so to see if they’re getting dry, if so, add water about a cup at a time.) Add the carrots, celery and ham and cook for at least another 3 hours and as many as 6 hours, until the beans are fully cooked and begin to get quite creamy.

SLOW COOKER Combine all ingredients except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook for 8 - 10 hours on low of 4 – 6 hours on high.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in Ham & Beans? How many Weight Watchers points in Ham & Beans?) Per Cup: 182 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 11mg Cholesterol; 860mg Sodium; 29g Carb; 9g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 12g Protein; Weight Watchers 3 points
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite ham bone recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

More Recipes for Ham & Leftover Ham

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Twice-Smoked Ham At Last! Black Bean Soup Scandinavian Pea Soup
~ more ham recipes ~
~ more soup recipes ~

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My grandma always made a similar meal like this. I loved it. I wanted to make it throughout the winter and just never got around to it. Looks so good!
Jessica ~ Totally laughing because yes, this is 'Gramma' kind of food. She'd laugh about needing a recipe. Trust me, I got those laughs in the last while. But now that I know too, I'm passing it along ...

PS You get the award for fastest comment ever!
l love to use ham bone to make soup...just learned recently. It makes very tasty soup. I add carrots, celery and tomato. My family likes it very much. Next time I'll add beans too. Yours look very delicious.
I think I buy the ham for the ham bone most of the time. Oh, the family loves to eat the ham but I'd be happy to wait for the beans I cook with the bone and a few scraps to throw in with green beans.

I never had a problem with older beans getting hard until the last batch I cooked. They were prepped the night before but took all day to become edible. My first clue should have been that they didn't all plump properly after soaking overnight. Oh well, live and learn. I think I'll take your advice from now on! :)

btw - I just ordered a Kentucky country ham to cook for Derby season. It should be interesting!
Whoa! This is an outstanding bean soup recipe. As a 56 year old I've eaten and cooked bean soup more times than I can count, and this is easily the best. The poblano pepper has an amazing effect. I substituted 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Bell's Seasoning for the sage and thyme called for in the recipe, you might want to try that! I made mine in a crock pot, and could have saved myself some stirring by putting the beans in the bottom of the pot before adding anything else.

Thanks for a superior recipe!
Doug ~ Whoa!! thanks for that! I work so hard to make sure that Kitchen Parade recipes are extra-special, even when made with homely ingredients. When someone notices, and takes the time to say, trust me, I am "thrilled"! Thank you so much.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna