Southern Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks

Southern Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Soak: 6 hrs
Total: 14 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
213 Calories
2g Fat
36g Carbs
14g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 58mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 71mg 5%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 818mg 17%
*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.)

Pinto beans with ham hocks are a Southern favorite, traditionally served with cornbread. They go well with barbecue, tacos or burritos, and fried chicken, and are an ideal potluck dish. The ham hock seasons the beans and makes the dish hearty enough to serve on its own, but if you want even meatier beans, add extra diced ham. Make sure to start several hours ahead of time or the night before since the beans need to soak; this results in a nice and moist finished dish.

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


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"This is a super easy and flavorful recipe, not to mention cheap, that takes minutes to put together. It's filling served over some nice crusty bread. Next time I make it, I’ll add in some sausages towards the end of the cooking time and maybe even some collard greens." —Carrie Parente

Southern Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 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, divided

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern crock pot pinto beans with ham hocks ingredients

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water.

    Rinse the beans in a colander

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Sort through them and discard any malformed or damaged beans or small pebbles.

    Sort the beans and discard damaged beans

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Soak for 6 hours or overnight. Alternatively, follow the instructions for a quick soak.

    Soak the beans in water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Place the beans and ham hocks in the crock pot with the bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.

    Beans and ham hocks in the crock pot with the bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. Cover with 6 cups of water.

    Beans and ham hocks in the crock pot covered with water

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  7. Cover the pot and cook for 6 to 8 hours on high, or until the beans are tender. 

    Beans and ham hocks cooking in a crock pot

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  8. Remove the ham hock and bay leaves, then dice or shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot. 

    Dice the ham hocks in the crock pot

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  9. Taste the beans and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Mix well. Serve and enjoy.

    Southern Crock Pot Pinto Beans With Ham Hocks, season with salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn


  • 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.
  • If you end up with an extra ham hock, they are great for freezing. Wrap tightly and store for up to six months.

Does a Ham Hock Need to Be Washed Before Cooking?

Smoked ham hocks (also called pig knuckles) do not 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 flavors the dish. While they don't offer much actual meat, they contribute tons of flavor. If you find fresh ham hocks, you can brine them for up to a week and smoke them yourself.

Recipe Variations

  • If you just want a bit of extra flavor, add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the beans before slow cooking.
  • Dice a medium onion and add that to the beans. This will give extra depth to the dish.
  • If it's a little extra texture, heartiness, or color that you're looking for, 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.
  • For a vegetarian pinto bean dish, omit the ham hock and add extra seasonings for flavor. Or add a meat replacement to the beans, such as veggie bacon or seitan.
  • For a smoky flavor, add a bit of liquid smoke or smoked paprika to the beans.