Southern Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks

Crock pot pinto beans with ham hocks

The Spruce

  • Total: 8 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 8 hrs
  • Soak: 6 hrs
  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
200 Calories
1g Fat
36g Carbs
13g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 200
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 89mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 11g 39%
Protein 13g
Calcium 116mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These basic pinto beans are a Southern favorite. They're great for parties and potluck dinners, and they go well with barbecue, tacos or burritos, and fried chicken.

The ham hock seasons the beans, but feel free to taste and add salt after the beans are tender and the ham is chopped and added back to the slow cooker. The beans are hearty enough to serve as a main dish. For meatier beans, add extra diced ham. For a vegetarian pinto bean dish, omit the ham hock and add extra seasonings for flavor. For a smoky flavor, add a bit of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to the beans. Feel free to add a meat replacement to the beans, such as veggie bacon or seitan.

To keep with tradition, serve these pinto beans with hot, freshly baked cornbread or cornbread muffins. Many Southerners insist on a spoonful of relish alongside their beans. Chow chow is wonderful with beans, or serve them with corn relish, sweet pickle relish, or this quick tomato chutney. Add a salad for a well-balanced lunch or dinner.


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  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 large smoked ham hock (or 2 small hocks)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups water
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water. Sort through them and discard any malformed or damaged beans or small pebbles.

    Rinsed pinto beans.
     The Spruce
  3. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Soak for 6 hours or overnight. Alternatively, follow the instructions on the beans for a quick soak.

    Soaked pinto beans.
     The Spruce
  4. Place the beans and ham hocks in the crock pot with the bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes. Cover with the 6 cups of water.

    Pinto beans and ham hock in crockpot.
     The Spruce
  5. Cover the pot and cook for 6 to 8 hours on HIGH, or until the beans are tender. 

  6. Remove the ham hock and dice or shred the meat. 

    Slow cooked ham hock and beans.
     The Spruce
  7. Taste the beans and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

    Southern pinto beans with ham hocks.
     The Spruce
  8. Serve and enjoy!


  • The beans will have the best texture and cook in a single day if you soak them first, so don't skip that step. Otherwise, you'll be slow cooking from dawn until dusk.
  • Smoked ham hocks don't need any special prep like rinsing. They're already smoked and therefore lightly cooked, but don't serve them as-is. They need to be cooked low and slow to render all of the fat and collagen, which in turn flavors the dish. While they don't offer much actual meat, they offer tons of flavor.
  • If you end up with an extra ham hock, they are great for freezing. Wrap tightly and store for up to six months.

Recipe Variations

  • If you just want to add a bit of extra flavor, try adding 3 cloves of minced garlic to the beans before slow cooking.
  • Dice a medium onion and add that to the beans. This will give an extra depth to the dish.
  • If it's a little extra texture, heartiness, or color that you're looking to add, try dicing a red or green bell pepper and adding it to the beans.
  • For a Tex-Mex flavor twist, add 2 teaspoons of chili powder and about 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, or to taste. Add a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes (chili-style, fire-roasted, or tomatoes with green chile peppers) when you season them with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes longer and serve them with corn or flour tortillas or crushed tortilla chips.