Sunday, February 6, 2011

Crock Pot Northern Beans & Ham

Crock pot creamy Northern Beans and Ham with a hint of sweetness from brown sugar. 
Good morning everyone and Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!! Before I start preparing some yummy super bowl eats at my house, first things first. Last week Texas received lots of ice and then snow. Hard to believe we got both in the same week.

This is the first time that I can remember that school was closed for 4 days in a row. All I can say is I'm glad all that stuff is finally melted cause baby it was cold outside. We stayed indoors for the most part and only ventured out a few times for milk and few essentials.  

We enjoyed lots of tummy warming meals, soups, beans and oatmeal for breakfast.
I had posted on face book that I had a big crock pot full of Northern Beans & Ham cooking for dinner. A few folks wanted the recipe, but I was working on getting my my super bowl recipes posted, so I apologize for the delay on getting this recipe up on the blog. 

Nothing warms you up better than a big bowl of beans and cornbread. I grew up eating many of pots of beans. Most likely because they were very cheap and they could feed a crowd. I've always loved the convenience of canned beans, but for some recipes they just don't work.

If you want beans that simmer all day long on the stove or crock pot, then you need to use dried beans. Pinto Beans have been my bean of choice for a very long time but over the last couple years, I've been leaning more towards Northern Beans.

I think it's because I love the creaminess of the Northern Beans. Plus it is such a nice change from pinto beans. When I make a big pot of beans I use my crock pot for slow cooking. I also try and use ham shanks because they release such great flavor. Ham shanks are also very meaty. 

They can be hard to find, but most times I can find them at Walmart. Usually when I see them I stock up and place a few packages in the freezer. If you cannot locate shanks then ham hocks or ham will work just as well. I also add a bit of brown sugar into my beans. Don't ask me why, it just makes them taste so good.

I have seen some folks use molasses but I prefer brown sugar. Don't worry it's not a huge amount, just enough to give them a good flavor.Well there you have it my simple version of Northern Beans and Ham. I hope you will give this recipe a try.  In usual fashion I have included some step by step photos. The full recipe is at the end of this post.

Ingredients you will need: 1 -16 oz package Dried Northern beans, ham, salt, pepper, onion, water and brown Sugar (not pictured). 

Start by sorting the beans for any pebbles and rinse them under cold water. Soak the beans for 3 hours in a large bowl. Drain and rinse the beans. Add the the rinsed beans, onion, salt, pepper, and ham shanks, hocks or ham (chopped into large chunks) into the crock pot.

Add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. (about 6 - 8 cups)
Cover and cook on high for the first hour then turn the crock pot to low and cook for an additional 4 hours or until the beans are tender and a bit creamy.

Remove the ham shanks or hocks and pull off all of the meat. Return the meat to the crock pot and add the brown sugar. Sometimes I remove about a cup of the bean juice before adding the brown sugar. It's all up to you and how much water has cooked down with the beans.

Look at all that ham I got off those meaty ham shanks. Yum! Ladle into bowls and serve with a wedge of cornbread and enjoy.


Brandie@thecountrycook said... #

Thank you, Tina, for hosting another Potluck Sunday. I get so many great ideas and of course, I love all you recipes!!

Ernie Hendrix said... #

I think this recipe sounds wonderful! We're going to give it a try immediately. Thanks.

Jane said... #

I added my Party Kielbasa. It's perfect for Super Bowl Sunday! Thanks for hosting!

Ann said... #

Tina, Thanks for hosting Pot Luck Sunday. I love this ham and beans recipes. it really looks ans sounds sooo good.

Rachelle S said... #

After Christmas, I sent our ham bone home with Father in Law he made a soup like this but with the HUGE white beans and loved it!

I just pulled some fresh homemade Monkey Bread from the oven, have a few pieces! =)

Andrea (Andreas Kitchen) said... #

Happy Sunday! This week I shared my recipe for Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies. This recipe is gluten free, but can be made with "regular" flour if you don't have issues with gluten.
Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said... #

First off great and simple recipe, I am also off to explore some of these blogs!

Anonymous said... #

I am not a fan of beans .. but my husband is :) So i will definitely try this dish! First time in your blog and linked my white Chocolate Cake ! :)

Unknown said... #

Total comfort food....all you need is a cast iron skillet full of cornbread :)


Desi said... #

I can't link up for some reason...

I Play Outside The Box said... #

Those beans look good! I need to add them to my list of 'gotta gets'. Sure miss your Linky posts......hope you get it activated again.

Alil Country Sugar said... #

One of my comfort foods for sure. The first photo on your blog made me *sigh*. My crock pot better be ready to go this weekend, because this is definitely getting made.

kitchen flavours said... #

Hi Tina,
I'm unable to link up!

Tina Butler said... #

We had a major malfunction with the linky tools. They are now charging to use their services. My account was waiting to be credited. Until it was the linky tools were inactive. They just went to a pay program today. It should be back up and running now.

Kimmy said... #

Thanks for hosting this. I love, love, love your blog! I found my favorite cake recipe on your blog - The German Chocolate Cheesecake recipe. Oh mylanta! To die for. I introduced it to my mom and we are addicts! Thanks for your great blog! I linked up my Baked Cake Donuts recipe.

Leslie said... #

I think I can almost taste this soup! Looks wonderful Tina!

dining room table said... #

This is so nice! I love the dish. It is so rich and full of flavors.

Juliana Wooley said... #

I made this last night and even my kids who typically don't like beans (well, okay, not ALL of them) really liked this! I loved it! I couldn't believe how soft the beans were without all the soaking and all. Yum!

Unknown said... #

This soup was really good. I did change a couple of things. Used a 1 1/2 lb slice of ham (chopped) and dehydrated onions. I will make this again. Thanks for the really easy and really yummy recipe.

Jackie said... #

I was craving some old fashioned ham and beans, and your crock pot recipe is perfect! Easy, cooks all day so I come home to a delicious, ready to eat meal! Your recipe was by far the best after an extensive online search. Thank you.

Anonymous said... #

This soup is amazing! I used chicken broth though and added kale during the last 10 minutes. This will be added to my must make in the winter soup list for sure!

Grandma Honey said... #

I have plans to start making this in the morning. Just one question. I often have a difficult time getting the salt and pepper right in could you please tell me how much you put in this recipe?
I hope you see this soon. Thank you so much. I've just discovered your blog and I'm having a fun time looking around. I made your mandarin orange cake tonight...wonderful!!

Tina Butler said... #

Grandma Honey, I just sprinkle a thin layer of each over the top and then stir. From there, people can add more to their serving if they prefer. Ham can be kind of salty so be careful and don't add to much.

Chicken Broth is a nice addition. I may go half broth half water next time. Thanks for the tip.

VickiT said... #

This is one of my favorite meals. I've always used Great Northern Beans. I've never used or seen brown sugar added but, I have used half chicken broth and half water and also add approx. 1 teaspoon of Frank's Red Hot Sauce to mine for a little more flavor.

Another hint about finding the ham shanks is to go to HoneyBaked Ham store or Heavenly Ham if you have either close to you. They have very good ham shanks for sale and they still have a large amount of ham left on them. I LOVE buying from them and they aren't that costly.

I'm going to try your recipe though. I've never made this in the crockpot so the next time will be. Thank you.

Alecia said... #

Just came across your post when looking for ideas of what to add to my beans and ham and wanted to let others know if you put it over rice with tomato sauce it's a great meal!! Thanks for all

Deena said... #

We had these beans for supper tonight and Ohh my! These were awesome! Seriously the best beans I have had in a long, long time.

For the salt measurement, I added 1 tbsp of table salt when I started cooking these beans. About an hour before the beans were done, I tasted and added right at another (just 1) tablespoon of table salt. It wasn't too salty or anything... beans were awesome and this will be how I make them from now on! Thank you for posting this recipe :D

DJA said... #

Hi there, tried this and used Cannelli beans from Whole Foods, used their quick soak method, put on low for 8 hours and the beans weren't close to done, how did I mess up?? thanks for the great recipe idea's!


Mimisma said... #

Hello there! Greetings from Sunny San Antonio, TX!!
I just made this beans today on crockpot. I fogot the sugar at the end... ooopss! They took 10 hours on low... so i took some of the water off and reserved it for somer rice tomorrow. Then I took out about a cup of rice and put it in blender to make it creamy. Then I shredded the meat. SErved it with garlic bread and ginger ale. It was perfecto! seasoned it with little salt, since ham has laready too much sodium and my hubby has HBP. I am not fan of beans and was thinking on making myself a sandwich but I tried it after my husband was giving me so many complements, that he convince me. It is gr8! Then his younger grandson (11) came over (they live in same property) and had some and loved 'em too. Therefore, I will say GRACIAS very much for this easy and delicious recipe. I will folow your blog from now on! Thank you again!

Sue said... #

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am at the results of this recipe. I've always been afraid of cooking with beans. My mother never did, said it was too much bother. Well, I can't wait to serve this wonderful soup to her. I had no idea it could be so simple and with such great results. Thank you so much for sharing these recipes and giving me the courage to try things that used to intimidate me.

Anonymous said... #

Hello, love this recipe, I have made it twice, the first time I used the low setting, the beans were no where near done at the alloted, the second time I use the high setting, until they were done. There is a huge amount of flavor in this recipe, I did use the brown sugar and it adds "a little something" I think a tad bit more richness, but nothing that says "sweet'. I true keeper.
Thank you.

Anonymous said... #

Great dish. I added some celery and a dash of Cyan pepper. Super yummy!

Emily said... #

Great recipe! We made it once a few weeks ago & are making it again today. We are cutting the sugar down to 2 tablespoons this time and omitting salt (there's already an insane amount of sodium in the ham shanks!). Next time we will use Lima beans... Love limas! This recipe is seriously like crack.... SO delicious. My husband & I ate on our first batch all evening while we were brewing beer.. It's incredible!

Tazmom said... #

Thank you so much for the recipe! I grew up on this very same thing (w/the Northern Beans) & haven't made them in i kinda forgot how! lol I've lived all over & found many Southern folks grew up on pinto beans & ham - & more Northern folks the Northern Beans (go figure hahaha) & cornbread MUST have cornbread!

When I was little, Dad couldn't get me to eat them (he was feeding 3 kids without a mom so as you said, it was a great meal - inexpensive, filling & good!) he added a little bit of ketchup to my bowl. I loved it then & can't seem to stop myself from adding alittle even now. It just adds such a great flavor!!

If anyone tries it, hope you like it!! God Bless!

Unknown said... #

Soaking is still a good idea to reduce flatulence/gas and because beans are dirty. Even store bought packaged ones are dirty things..soaking/rinsing/draining is important to clean them :)

Donna Tausch said... #

I really want to try this recipe. I generally add some dill weed to my soups and will add a little as well as celery. Thank you !

Anonymous said... #

I love the recipe, but the time is off as some have already posted. I didn't 'soak' the beans, but I did rinse them really good and drain them.They have been in the crockpot since 4pm and it is now almost 1 am, and I feel that they need more cooking time. I even did them on high for the first two hours, but I think they should probably cook all day seriously

Tina Butler said... #

Anonymous, Every crock pot cooks differently. Some hotter and some faster than others. Mine takes the time I have listed using my crock pot. The only thing I can advise is soak the beans first to soften them. Then cook as directed. Keep in mind they will cook a lot faster once soaked. It's also noted that I start my crock pot out on high for the first 2 hours then lower the temp to low for the remaining 4 hours.

Grandma Honey said... #

Maybe she has old beans. If they are old they never will get soft. We LOVE this recipe, although we always soak our beans first.

Jeanne said... #

This is my favorite ham & beans recipe. It is easy and fast. I do usually add extra cubed ham--just to satisfy my meat-loving husband. Thank heavens for Pinterest so I can find this when I am ready for this good soup! Thank you!!

Anonymous said... #

I've never done crrock pot anything. As a busy new bride in excited to have these cooking. Thanks so much for making it possible to cook without phoning the mother in law!

Unknown said... #

What are your opinions on using bacon instead of ham and addins a bit of tomato sauce? We are running short on food this week and trying to come up with ideas for what I have to work with.

Unknown said... #

The crock pot is the most amazing invention ever! Personally I hate to cook... ya just pick your fav combo of meat potatos veggies beans.... whatever you like add some seasoning then come back 6-8 hours later and you have a meal. Right now I have a beef roast with some sweet potatoes and baby onions cooking for tomorrow and it smells amazing!

Anonymous said... #

I accidentally added the brown sugar with all the stuff in the it going b ok???

Tina Butler said... #

I think it will be fine. It's cold today here in Texas and that would be the perfect meal.

Unknown said... #

Hi, Tina! Just wanted to thank you for this crockpot friendly beans and cornbread recipe! My husband and I love "soup beans", but I always scorch them. Now I'm sure my beans will be a success!

Unknown said... #

If you want a little different flavor, a slice or two of bacon adds a nice smokey flavor. Love a nice pot of beans, stew or a soup on cold days.

Kitty said... #

I used to add some cubed potatoes to my beans. First I have heard of the brown sugar..will give it a try.

Just Marilyn said... #

Silly question.... but I have the same 3-in-1 slow cooker that's in your picture! What size crock did you use for this recipe? It seems I always choose one that is unnecessarily too big and harder to manage/clean :( Will definitely be making this tomorrow night!!

Cathy said... #

Instead of water I use low sodium chicken broth and it's absolutely delicious!! I'm making this today!!

suzyanna said... #

I saw your northern bean and ham recipe, I was wondering if recipe will still come out good, if you don't use salt or just use pinch of salt ? my friend is on low intake salt diet, his blood pressure was in stroke level zone

Anonymous said... #

Cooked this today. Sosked my beans overnight then cooked on high for 1hr 45 min then low for 4 1/2 hrs. Not near done.

Brian said... #

Just cooked these tonight... first time in my life I've prepared Great Northern Beans. Huge success!!

I lucked out and found some smoked pork neck bones at my store. I also soaked my beans overnight before I read your notes, so I had to experiment with the cooking time a little bit. I had refrigerated the crock before I left for work so my wife could just throw it on. We did an hour on high, then three hours on low. Not done! Cooked on high for another hour, then on low for another two and a half hours or so. Perfect! They were so good I decided not to add the brown sugar. I can't believe they turned out so well! Definitely going on the recipe card hall of fame. Thanks!

Tina Butler said... #

That would of been about right. The recipe says: Cook on high for the first 2 hours then turn to low and continue cooking for 4 - 5 hours. Everyone also needs to keep in mind that EVERY Crock pot is DIFFERENT. I have 3 crock pots and they all cook differently some hotter than others and some quicker than others, so the timing will be longer or shorter.

Tina Butler said... #

@Brain, I am so glad you liked the recipes. I love how creamy they turn out.

Lauren said... #

Made these earlier in the week for the first time. Followed the recipe exactly. Well, almost, I only had sliced ham from a whole cooked ham, so I used that, but everything else the same. I thought these were great! DH thought they were OK, but I didn't expect him to love them anyway. One kid tried them and didn't like them, and the other kid wouldn't go near them...not surprised at either, but I thought I'd try, lol.

I asked DH if this was something he'd eat again, and he said yes, but it "needs something". Any thoughts? I think I will cut down just a tiny bit on the sugar, maybe something more savory? Or another ingredient to add to it?

Anonymous said... #

I just made this crock pot northern beans and ham receipts for dinner last night. It was DELICIOUS. I've made northern beans on the stove top many times before but the crock pot just seems to make a difference. I thought putting brown sugar in the recipe sounded kind of weird, as I had never used that before. It took the beans over the top. The flavor was SENSATIONAL and made all the difference. Fabulous receipe and will make it often!

ellaruth said... #

For some reason white beans take longer to cook than pintos. The last day of our camping trip we have an early crockpot dinner. Everybody fixes something in the crockpot. I use the crockpot liners which are wonderful. I put my beans on the night before on low and will turn on high in the morning if not softening up. I love beans in a crockpot this is the way I fix mine with a ham hock. Great flavor and I use ketchup on my white beans. Thanks for sharing. My mouth is watering now.. : )

Unknown said... #

Love the recipe, have had many people say they would like the recipe. I recently lost mine so I stopped back by to print again. My question is I thought the first time I printed it, at the bottom it stated you do not soak beans overnight, that you cook right out of the bag. Has this changed? Should I be soaking overnight first? I have followed recipe and cook right out of the bag without any problems in the past. Just wondering which is the preferred method?

Love the site as well. Thanks

Anonymous said... #

Made this tonight for the first time and it was EXCELLENT! The brown sugar made the ham nice and sweet but not too much. Love it and wish I made more :)

sullivank42 said... #

I'm making this recipe right now. I've enjoyed this with a batch of fresh-baked Cornbread for most of my life. It's a wonderful side dish which my beloved Grandmother used to make. I've loved it ever since. Thank you for sharing your precious recipe with us. It really brightens my day and warms my heart.

Anonymous said... #

Sounds good and easy. At least you don't have processed stuff. When I think of bean soup, I think of my mom's. The smell is warm and homey:) Good childhood memories.

Anonymous said... #

Cooked my soup with a ham hock, got a big one but made the mistake of wanting extra broth, so I doubled the amount of water I used. Now the soup is done only my flavor is weak, how can I fix it. I know I should of used more ham hock if I added more water, but I only know it now because my soup is weak in flavor. Can you help me please.

Anonymous said... #

I always add a touch of white vinegar to my bowl before I eat it. It really sets it off wonderfully!

Anonymous said... #

Can anyone tell me how many this crock pot will feed, I'm wanting to fix this to feed 40 folks Thanks!

Debbie M said... #

Try using CHICKEN BROTH instead of water. Takes the beans to a whole new level. So delicious!

Anonymous said... #

I love bean soup and have made it for years. I make it pretty much the same without the sugar and adding celery and cooked on the stove. I love the crock pot idea to save time.

Anonymous said... #

Got my Beans soaking now, Gonna pick up some shanks tomorrow and some Cornbread. Thanks only have used my crock pot a few times so far and looking to break it in... Thanks Dave in St Louis

Mirlandra @ said... #

Thanks! I have not done this in a crockpot before and I'm excited to give it a go. I be the sugar is great - I never thought of that but the flavor enhancer idea is perfect.

Anonymous said... #

First you said "Soak the beans overnight first in a large bowl."

Then you said "I never soak my northern beans before cooking and they are tender soft after about 5 hours of cooking."

Which is it?

Tina Butler said... #

Anonymous, that part was added in the cooks note not the RECIPE! I never soak my northern beans because they cook up just fine for me in my crock pot. Other readers were stating that the beans are still hard after 5 hours of cooking so in the RECIPE it states to soak the beans. Every crock pot is different some cooker faster and at a higher temp than others.

Unknown said... #

I am wondering if I stop at the point after soaking and place in the freezer with Ham and all other ingredients (except water)... would I just be able to place in the crockpot and then add water and start?

Blackbird Momma said... #

I am with #71. can i get up to soaking point and then freeze it as a make ahead meal?

Tina Butler said... #

I have never froze this at that stage, so I could not tell you what the end result would be, sorry.

Unknown said... #

Can you used the jar great northern beans and if so is the cooking time altered?

Unknown said... #

can you used the jar great northern beans and if so how long do you cook them

Anonymous said... #

This was a hit! I made it just as you said except I used navy beans as that's what I had. Also, I did not soak them, I followed the recipe except I cooked on high for 4 hours and they turned out soft. The brown sugar is a must! Thanks!

Colleen said... #

Exactly how my mom made it only she added diced potatoes in her ham and bean soup.

Paula said... #

I have been making this dish for several years and my family loves it!! The only thing I do different is to saute the onions (and garlic that I add) before putting this into the crockpot. Then I use chicken broth instead of water.....And I do soak the beans overnight. The brown sugar is definitely the "secret ingredient" - do not leave it out! Thank you for a delicious recipe that smells so wonderful while it is cooking and tastes great.

Anonymous said... #

How big is the crockpot you are using? Mine is a six quart size. I want to make this soup, but am wonder if the size of the crockpot matters.

Tina Butler said... #

Mine is a 6 quart.

Anonymous said... #

I made for first time today and could not believe how good it came out. And soooo easy in the crockpot. I did not use sugar, but did add 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Put it in with diced onion, rinsed northern beans and water with a ham with bone in. Made fresh cornbread and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Hubby LOVED the nice dinner.

Anonymous said... #

I tried this recipe this morning. Amazing! I did not soak the beans overnight Instead, to speed things up, I microwaved Navy beans for about 7 minutes (covered with water of course), then drained, rinsed, and cooked in the crock pot. They were done in about 3 hours. Adding brown sugar really makes a difference, too. Yummy!

Anonymous said... #

To those that are having their beans not get tender, if you would wait till about 1/2 hour before they're done to add the salt it will help tremendously. I know adding to pintos at the start will stop them from being tender.

Parrot said... #

Ham shank is great🐷 Also bacon drippings great too👍

Bon wei said... #

Wow!! I just found ur recipe and I made a batch. Yummy. So good. Made corn bread to go _it. Really delicious. Thanks. Will make again n again!!

Anonymous said... #

Oh my goodness , made these today, DELICIOUS!! I will definitely be making these again. Perfect for the cold day -13 outside.

Unknown said... #

Same here... I'll eat them but definitely fixing for my husband than for me...

Tina Remy said... #

This is the second time I have made these beans in my crock pot the first time I made these beans I soaked my great northern beans overnight the next morning got up put them in the crock pot,added one chopped white onion, I also added baby carrots,which I cut in half) I used four cans of low sodium chicken broth. Instead of using ham hocks or ham shanks I used European bacon I cut the bacon in half and then cut it into big chunks I added pepper Himalayan salt minced bay leaves Herbs De Provence and a little Italian seasoning my boyfriend raves about how good they are made these last month and making them again tonight, the first time I made these in my crock pot it only took four hours to cook they came out delicious they were so flavorful if you get the chance to make these I highly recommend it and try using European bacon I got mine at Fred Meyer European bacon has such a wonderful flavor this is my go-to recipe when I want northern beans this is a wonderful recipe especially on a very cold snowy wintery day