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. We usually "slow cook" Ham and Beans in the oven but I also have great luck cooking Ham and Beans in a slow cooker.

Ham & Beans ♥, an easy, one-pot supper, great for a leftover ham bone. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.
Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein. Great for Meal Prep.

The Best Thing About Ham?

Whether it's the ham for Sunday dinner? or the Easter ham? or the Christmas ham?

No question, the best thing about cooking a big ham (maybe even the very purpose for cooking a big ham?) is the day-after meal, a big pot of beans that simmers glug-glug all day with the ham bone.

Call it plebeian 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.
Leftover ham bone for making Ham & Beans♥, an easy, one-pot supper.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Do the Beans Have to Be Soaked Ahead of Time? No. But Yes. Many cooks say no but after lots of pots of beans, I still prefer to soak the beans overnight. To my taste, the beans turn out fuller, creamier, just ... better. That said, a quick soak works well and takes only a little over an hour, here's How to Quick Soak Dried Beans.

Where Do You Buy a Ham Bone? A friendly butcher might be able to scrounge up a ham bone but really, the thing to do is do buy a bone-in ham and cook it. Lacking that? Look for ham shanks or ham hocks near the hams at the grocery store. Funny thing, a smoked turkey leg works really well too and is even meatier than ham shanks and especially ham hocks.

Can You Make Ham & Beans Ahead of Time? Absolutely. This is one of our favorite meals to make the day before serving.

Are Ham & Beans Better the Second Day? No! They're wonderful Day One but also Day Two, Day Three and so on.

Ham & Beans ♥, an easy, one-pot supper, great for a leftover ham bone. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.

Good to Know!


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 very small
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • Water to cover or up to 8 cups water (use less for thick beans, up to 8 cups for something akin to Ham & Bean Soup, see TIPS)
  • 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 THE BEANS OVERNIGHT 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.

TO "SLOW COOK" IN THE OVEN Preheat oven to 225F/105C. 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. Do be sure to leave room for the vegetables and ham that will be added later.)

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.

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

MAKE-AHEAD TIP Cook Ham & Beans one day, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, bring the beans back to a boil, then place in a 180F/80C to safely hold as long as you need, even several hours. Here, it's so so great to spend the day in the country, then come home to a hearty hot supper that's on the table in no time flat.

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, they're just not as good. Red beans work great but might take longer to cook, a recent pot with just-purchased red beans took a full 9 hours in the oven. Do make sure the beans have been purchased within the last couple of months. That's because 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 actually 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. More info? Here you go, Why Dried Beans Won't Cook. If there’s an excess of chicken stock or turkey stock on hand, substitute all or part of the water for stock. I also like to use any leftover cooking liquid from cooking the ham, it can add a lot of flavor! I've taken to doubling the carrots, they're just so good! If now’s not the time to cook something with the ham bone, don’t throw it away! A ham bone can be frozen. In fact, a good bone saw will cut through a thick ham bone not quite like butter but more easily than you can imagine. We use this Wusthoff Bone Saw (affiliate link) to cut a big ham bone into pot-size chunks, spreading one bone among several pots of ham and beans, At Last! Black Bean Soup, Homemade Lentil Soup and Red Beans & Rice. So handy! [My Disclosure Promise]
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 137 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 592mg Sodium; 28g Carb; 13g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 3 & blue 1 & purple 1 (and for blue and purple, 2 cups = 1 point too)

More Recipes for Ham

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Twice-Smoked Ham Easy Ham Salad Ham Loaf with Sour-Cherry Sauce
~ more ham recipes ~

More Ways to Use a Ham Bone & Leftover Ham

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Red Beans & Rice At Last Black Bean Soup Scandinavian Split-Pea Soup
~ more soup recipes ~

More After-Easter Recipes

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Spinach Soup with Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing Mini Egg Salad Sandwiches with Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls
~ more cooked egg recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ canned & dried beans ~
~ ham ~
~ poblano peppers ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)

~ How to Quick Soak Dried Beans ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
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A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Doug Barber5/30/2010

    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!

  6. 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