slow cooker ham and beans

Slow Cooker Ham 'n' Beans

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 (Chinese food! YUCK!), 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).

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 mushy 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 haven’t thought about ham and beans since. That is, until this past week.

Someone 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 visting 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.

Slow Cooker Ham ‘n’ Beans

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Serves 6-8

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. If you don’t have a ham around, most grocery stores sell smoked ham hocks in the meat section. Many times they come in packs of two or more. The ones you don’t use will freeze well in a zip-top bag.


  • 1 pound navy or great northern beans, sorted, soaked overnight (or according to directions on bag)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large smoked ham hock or ham bone
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • Sliced green onions for topping (optional)


  1. In the basin of a slow cooker, combine the beans, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay and ham hock or bone.
  2. Fill with water until just barely covering the beans.
  3. Cook on high for 6-7 hours, or low for 8-9 hours until beans are soft and beginning to fall apart.
  4. 30 minutes before end of cooking time, remove the ham hock or bone, strip off any meat, chop and return to the slow cooker. Discard the bone. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and remaining chopped ham.
  5. Serve sprinkled with green onions.

What food did you hate as a kid and now enjoy?



  1. Heather says

    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.

    • Cassie says

      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!

      • dee says

        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.

      • Troy says

        Just my opinion, but cornbread with sugar or sweetner isn’t cornbread…Its cake…

      • Ruth says

        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.

  2. Jenn says

    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!!

  3. Lesil says

    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!

  4. Mr Leslie Merle Price says

    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.

  5. says

    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).

    • Chuck Orem says

      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.


      • Cassie says

        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.

      • Patsy says

        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.

  6. Betty says

    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.

  7. Liz H says

    I would love to try this recipe but your printer button keeps saying error along with a lot of code that I dont understand

  8. Christi-TX says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. Donna Pitts says

    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.

  11. Brenda King says

    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.

  12. Sarah Tracy says

    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

  13. Debbie Worters Robertson says

    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?

    • Cassie says

      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.

  14. nicole says

    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.

  15. Diane C says

    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.

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