Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe

This Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe is a hearty meal idea that will take you down memory lane! A simple recipe using a leftover ham bone is a southern classic you must make!

Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe

There is nothing better than a big pot of beans simmering on the stove top with a ham bone, seasonings, and a lot of time.

Growing up, my grandmother adored making pinto beans and cornbread. We would walk in the door to a big pot of beans simmering next to a freshly baked cast iron skillet of cornbread.

Slice off the side of cornbread, ladle on a hefty helping of flavorful beans, and you have yourself comfort food in a bowl.

Toni likes a little drizzle of ketchup, I like a little dash of hot sauce.

Let me show you how I make pinto beans! You’ll find lots of variations of a pinto beans recipe, and they almost always have a good story to go along with them.

That’s probably my favorite part of southern cooking. Recipes are stories, stories are recipes. They go hand in hand, and are all welcome at the table!

If you’re wanting to use a pressure cooker to cook your dry pintos this isn’t the post for you. I have never used a pressure cooker, and they terrify me!

How to Make Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe

First, you’ll need to soak your beans.

When you buy your dry pinto beans in the store you’ll need to pick through and remove any of the shriveled or darker-colored ones. There may even be some rocks and debris at the bottom of the bag. Just give the beans a good rinse in a colander as you pick through.

My method for picking through the beans is to grab a handful, look them over, then drop them into the colander in the sink.

Then, we’ll add the beans to a large pot and cover them in a lot of water. Add enough water to cover the beans with an extra 3-4 inches of water on top.

The beans will expand and absorb the water as they soak, so you need more than you think.

Tips for Soaking Your Beans:

No, you do not *have* to soak your beans. You can do the “quick soak” method.

For me, I’ve found the beans cook more evenly, and the end result is a super creamy bean.

Soak them overnight! So, before you go to bed, pick through the dry beans, wash them, and get them in a pot with cold water. Let them soak until mid-afternoon the next day!

I’ve never experimented with soaking them in the morning and cooking them in the late afternoon. I let the beans soak for 12+ hours.

pinto beans and ham recipe

Flavoring the Pinto Bean Recipe

Next, you’ll need a ham bone. This might be why I make Baked Ham! Either for a big pot of pinto beans or a pot of Split Pea Soup.

I saved my ham bone from Easter and used it in this recipe. If you don’t have a frozen ham bone, you can pick one up from your local Heavenly Ham shop! Just call ahead and ask if they have any available.

Otherwise, pick up a smoked ham hock from the grocery store, and that will be just fine!

You want the liquid you cook your beans in to be super flavor-filled. Using a ham bone with meat on it, a ham steak, meaty ham hocks, or even turkey wings will help flavor your broth and beans.

While I just add water to my beans and ham bone, I also throw in a couple of bay leaves, a little garlic powder, onion powder, and chopped onion for that extra onion flavor.

You might be wondering “Where’s the salt, Ash?!”

I leave the salting until the end. The ham is salty, and after the extra ham falls off the bone, taste your broth and beans to see if you need to add some extra salt.

You can also add extra salt by using a combo of chicken stock and water.

Cooking Your Delicious Pinto Beans

After the beans have soaked overnight, drain the beans and give a good rinse.

Pour the beans into a dutch oven pot, or one big enough to hold the beans after the expand and the ham bone, and fill with liquid.

For your pot of beans, you want a water level above the beans, but not necessarily above the ham bone. How’s that for an exact measurement?!

Cook the beans on high heat for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to a simmer for a couple of hours.

As the beans cook, the ham will begin to fall off the bone. I like to fish the large pieces out and shred them into bits. I’ll add the bits back into the pot of beans and all the natural release of their flavor.

When the beans are tender and soft, give them a taste and see if you need to add any salt. I like grinding a bunch of black pepper into the pot! Other seasonings that would be delicious are chili powder, some cumin, or oregano.

Fun Fact: this cooking process and method can be used for green beans, mustard greens, white beans, lima beans, etc.

pinto beans and cornbread

Serving the Southern Pinto Beans and Ham

Of course, the southern style is over corn bread. The skillet cornbread acts like a side dish, allowing all the broth to soak in and add extra flavor.

A bowl of pinto beans is the main dish, and a light salad is a great addition to the meal.

I recommend an Everyday Salad or an acidic salad like the Prosecco Vinaigrette Salad. Both will pair well with the beans!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What meat goes good with pinto beans?

Ham pairs so well! It’s very traditional to use a pork product like ham hocks, or ham steaks.

What goes best with pinto beans?

Cornbread and ham!

What can I add to pinto beans for flavor?

Beans soak in whatever flavor you cook them with. Here are some seasoning ideas: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, chipotle chili powder, fresh garlic, fresh onions, etc.

How long do you need to cook pinto beans?

If you’ve done an overnight soak (or at least 6-8 hours), you can cook them in 40-50 minutes. I prefer a slow cook method by using high heat for 30 minutes, and then simmering a low setting for 2 hours.

How do you thicken ham and pinto beans?

If you find that you have too much liquid, you have a couple of options:

  • Add a cornstarch slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water. Pour into your pot and bring to a boil to thicken.
  • You can remove some of the liquid, and cook a little longer to see if it thickens on it’s own.
  • Try removing some of the beans and use an immersion blender to puree some of the beans. Add this pureed mixture to the pot to have a thick stew style.

Can you cook beans in the slow cooker?

Yes! You sure can. If you’re using unsoaked beans, they’ll cook 6-7 hours on high. Soaked beans take 4-5 hours on low.

Southern Style Pinto Beans and Cornbread

In conclusion, I hope you give this easy recipe for southern pinto beans and ham a try! You don’t want to miss out on the best pinto beans!

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pinto beans and ham recipe

Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe

  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 5 + 12 hour soak
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: southern


This Southern Pinto Beans and Ham Recipe is a hearty meal idea! It’s a simple recipe using a leftover ham bone, southern classic you must make!


  • 1, 11 ounce bag of dried Pinto Beans (picked over, washed, and soaked overnight)
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Fresh Black Pepper to taste
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Add the soaked beans and ham bone to a big pot, and pour in 2 quarts of water.
  2. Add the chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons of onion powder.
  3. Bring to a boil, and cook at high heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender and soft.
  5. As the meat fall off the ham bone, remove and shred to pieces. Add back into the broth.
  6. Remove the ham bone at the 1.5 hour mark, and allow the shredded ham and beans to simmer together for half an hour.
  7. Taste the beans, and check if you need to add any salt. Grind fresh black pepper.
  8. Serve with fresh cornbread, hot sauce, and whatever extra fixings you like!

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