After the rich Thanksgiving goodies, we always look for something more down home and simple for dinner. These Creamy Northern Beans with Ham certainly fit the bill for that!
I threw the ingredients together in the slow cooker, let them cook for 8 long hours, and the result was a creamy, flavorful pot of beans with tender and delicious chunks of ham.
Add a piece of cornbread and you have the perfect warming dinner for a cool Fall evening.
The original recipe calls for a ham hock, but I substitute one inch cubed smoked ham instead. I find that a ham hock usually leaves the beans greasy and it's hard to skim all that fat off.
If you don't have ham leftover from Thanksgiving, go to your local deli and ask for a pound of smoked ham cut one inch thick. Cube it into chunks when you get home and throw them in with the beans.
These delicious Creamy Northern Beans with Ham remind me of dishes my Mother used to make. Pure comfort food at its best that leaves you satisfied. We lost my Mom in 2009, but I'm lucky enough to have inherited her recipe box and cookbooks with hand written notes in them. Priceless!
Be sure and use the pinch of cloves called for in the recipe. It's not overpowering and adds a nice flavor depth to the creamy beans!
I hope you'll try these - they're simple to make and are so very good for a nice dinner. They even seem to get better and better after a few days.
You don't have to wait till Thanksgiving or even cool weather to make this recipe. They're awesome all year round.
Creamy Northern Beans with Ham
Creamy with tender beans and chunks of ham. Wonderful dinner for a cool evening.
- 1 lb Great Northern Beans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ large onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1 lb smoked ham, cut in 1" cubes
- 3 to 4 C Water* (less water makes creamier, thicker beans!)
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
- Sort beans and put them into a large pot. Cover with fresh water (about 2 inches higher than the beans) and let them sit overnight. If you're in a hurry, boil them for 5 minutes, then let them sit covered in the pan for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse the beans and place them in the slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, ham and the pinch of ground cloves. Pour in the water and broth. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the beans are tender and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- If you have leftovers, pour them into your container and let them sit out until they're room temperature, then refrigerate.
Tips and Stuff:
If you want more of a soup than stew, just add 2 more cups of water.
Jan. 2023 - *Revised recipe to lower water amount - there were quite a few comments about the beans being watery and not thickening up as shown in photos.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 941mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 1gProtein: 21g
Nutrition Values are Approximate
I freeze my cooked beans with a little of the cooking water. Freezing in two cup measures means I can use them in recipes that call for one can of beans. The flavour is so much better, and it's more economical!
Good tip, Glenna!
You are right about the awesome flavor of ham hocks in bean soup. What I do to get rid of the fat is to boil the ham hocks, after done take out ham hocks, store the juice in the fridge and the fat will be easy to remove before starting the beans.
Great idea Nancy!
I always do a fast pre-soak. Bring the water (4 to 5 cups cold) to a boil. Take off the heat and cover for 20 minutes. Drain the beans then add a ham hock, 1 large onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste, and about a tablespoon of chopped parsley, and one tablespoon of butter. I cook them in my pressure cooker in water. I cook them for 40 minutes for soupy beans. Serve over white rice Louisiana style. This recipe is tried and true and you will not be disappointed. Enjoy, Jesse
How much water in pressure cooker? Water to cover? Have used slow cookers for decades, but I am new to using my pressure cooker.
I've never used a pressure cooker, Jennifer, so unfortunately can't help you out on that. Maybe some of the other readers can advise.
This is an excellent easy recipe. I add one small starchy, russet potato to help thicken the broth.
That's a good idea, Kevin!
Loved this recipe! I doubled (and a half!) using both northern and navy beans. Navy beans don’t get quite as mushy so it gave it a good consistency. I left out the cloves but added about 1-2 Tbl of good smoked paprika. Everyone loved it!!
I LOVE smoked paprika. That's a great idea! Glad you liked these wonderful beans! 🙂
Can you use canned northern brand?
Cindy, I think if you use canned and slow cook them for the time indicated, that they'd turn to mush. It might work if you sautee the other ingredients for 3-4 minutes in a skillet, add the broth, then put all in the crockpot for an hour or two. Or just cook them in a Dutch oven on the stovetop on medium-low for an hour. Good luck!
I made this last night and the flavor is wonderful; however, it didn't come out creamy like the picture. Followed directions to the letter. Any ideas how to thicken other than adding flour????
Tammy, in the comments above, mentioned hers didn't come out as creamy either. Maybe use 1/2 less water. Crockpots heat up differently, so you may want to put the pot on medium or high the last 30 minutes, stirring before turning up the temp (you don't want the bottom to burn, though - depends on your pot). Or you can cook them 30 minutes longer on low.
Thanks, sblades. Thanks! I'll try cooking on stovetop. I may try using less water as well.
I use Power Pressure Cooker cooks Dried beans In less Than Hour If You Soak.
You could try taking just a cup or so of just the beans out and smashing them and add back to the pot for more creaminess.
That's a good idea, Dian. Could put a cup in a blender too (although smashing them would be less cleanup!).
I agree, that's the way my Mom did it.
If you use a spoon and smash some of the beans and stir, the smashed beans will help thicken it up.
I’m making these tonight, had them cooking all day. Threw together some cornbread, and made a pan of fried potatoes. The smell is AMAZING, but they are watery 🙁 I followed directions exactly, so I don’t know where I went wrong, but I still can’t wait to try them!
Tammy, usually after they're slow-cooked for 8 hours they'll thicken up, but if yours are watery, you may trying throwing them in a large pot and cook them down on medium-low on the stovetop. If you have time, just let them keep cooking in the slow cooker. After refrigerated, they also thicken up quite a bit. Good luck and let me know how they come out!
Sounds just like what my momma would cook. Wonderful memories of her cooking!
I'm making this recipe now with a leftover ham bone. A friend just gave me 4 gallons of whole milk so I made mozzarella cheese. I am using the whey to cook the dry beans. I didn't have chicken broth so I added 2 chicken bullion cubes. I love to use whatever I have on hand. I am really curious how this will turn out with whey instead of water. Whey is so good and I just couldn't waste it.
That sounds really interesting and I would love to know how it turns out using whey!
Can this be frozen for later? Or will it not keep well?
Meghan, I don't think this would freeze well. We ate on ours for about 3 days and it was still good.
Yes I freeze bean all the time. I. am going to use Smoked Turkey Wings
Good to know Barbara. And Smoked Turkey Wings sound like a great addition - will make the beans smokier!
Mine do excellent frozen!
Thanks Janie! Good to know.
Any body ever add bacon to there beans?
I freeze mine for later meals. Family loves it. Don’t forget the warm cornbread to go with it.
Definitely can't forget the cornbread!
Yes you could definitely do on the stove top, Nita - I would use a Dutch oven on very low so they wouldn't stick as much (and stir occasionally).I've tried this with ham hocks, but mine came out too greasy. Maybe you know a ham hock trick that I don't?... This recipe is good with Great Northern beans or any dried white bean, so you can dump those pinto beans till next time! 🙂
I boil my hocks in a separate pot for 45min -1hr It takes the fat and the foam off . Seems to have less strong flavor and super tender when cooked w beans , easier to debone .
That's a good idea, Cheryl (and probably saves some money). Thanks for the helpful comment!
Can you adapt this recipe to use an Instant Pot?
I've never used an Instant Pot, Chasidy, so am not sure. Maybe one of my readers can comment on this.
How about on a stove top with ham hocks? I am tired of pintos to the point they are boring! 😁
Can you do this in a crockpot? Sounds very homey, calm, warming....sitting by the window watching it snow. That is comfort food to me.
Thank you for your time.
Absolutely. I always make it in my slow cooker or crockpot. It is the ultimate comfort food!
no offense but those cloves just run a taste for us. I should've just added the very least amount with a pinch to begin with.
I suppose it's all about taste and when you grow up
Cloves can absolutely be an overpowering flavor! My pinch is a very, very small amount and usually just enhances the flavor. I'm sorry it ruined the taste for you guys.
Excellent recipe. I usually make 2 lbs cause I know they'll not last long. I also added a teaspoon of Adobe and 2 small bay leaves to cook with. Right before serving, I chop up some fresh cilantro to top each bowl with and serve with a homemade tortilla 🥰
Thanks, Arlo! That's a good idea - we run out of these wonderful beans and always wish we had more. I'll bet adobo really gives them a good Southwestern-y, Tex-Mex-ish flavor.
I always put 1 or 2 bay leaves in any kind of beans……..tastes so much better. I’m making this today, sounds so good.
Sounds like a good idea!