This Southern-style pinto beans recipe is made using ham hocks and signature spices for ultimate flavor. Pair it with cornbread or any of your favorite soul food side dishes.
What Type of Beans to Use
Dry pinto beans are used for the recipe. Most pinto beans have a tan or cream color along with reddish splotches. Pinto means painted or spotted and refers to the way the beans look.
Canned beans don’t take long to cook (they are pre-cooked). You may want to cook your ham hock in broth for a couple of hours separately, and then add the canned beans to that pot.
Do You Have to Soak the Beans Overnight?
This recipe uses dried beans. If you want to lower the cooking time you will need to soak them in advance. You have a couple of options. You can soak them overnight in a large bowl filled with water. Or you can boil a large pot of water on the stove. Once the temperature reaches boiling, remove the pot from heat and add the beans. Allow the beans to soak for at least one hour.
If you don’t soak the beans in advance, it will add hours to your cook time.
What Type of Meat to Use
The recipe calls for pork ham hocks. You can use smoked turkey necks, turkey legs, turkey wings, salt pork, or even bacon.
Pork ham hocks aren’t very meaty. You should always look for the meatiest one you can find. It’s pork knuckle, where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg and is mostly fat and bone.
Cook Time/How Long Does it Take to Cook
Cook time will vary based on how you like to serve your beans. They will typically need anywhere from 1 1/2 hours – 3 hours depending on your texture preference. Soft beans that aren’t mushy take about 2 hours.
You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.
How to Double the Recipe
You can double the recipe and use the same amount of ham hock or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same.
How to Make the Dish Vegan or Vegetarian
Omit the meat. Use vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for flavor.
More Southern Recipes
Pair With These Side Dishes
Southern Pinto Beans
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 3 garlic cloves Minced.
- 5-6 cups chicken broth You can also use water. Use enough to fully cover the beans.
- 1 pound bag dried pinto beans Rinsed
- 1– 1 1/2 pounds ham hocks Fully cooked. See notes for substitutions.
- 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- Fill a large pot with water (enough to cover the pinto beans) and place it on the stove to boil. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and add the pinto beans. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour and then drain. Alternatively, you can soak the beans overnight.
- Place a large pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
- When hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.
- Add in the chicken broth, pinto beans, ham hock, Creole seasoning, and bay leaf. Stir.
- Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1 1/2-3 hours until the beans are soft. You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.
- Open up the pot and remove the bay leaf and ham hock. If you like meat in your beans, use 2 forks and shred the meat from the ham hock and return it to the pot. Taste repeatedly and adjust spices if needed.
- Cool before serving.
- Not soaking the beans in advance will add a couple of hours to your cook time.
- Rinse the beans first to remove any surface dirt.
- If you like for your beans to include meat from the ham hock, consider boiling it in water before cooking them with the beans. This will soften it up, prior to cooking it along with the beans. The beans will still have plenty of the ham hock flavor without boiling it in advance.
- Check on the beans frequently while they cook. They will typically need anywhere from 1 1/2 hours – 3 hours depending on your texture preference.
- You can use smoked turkey a leftover ham bone, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon in the recipe.
- You can double the recipe and use the same amount of ham hock or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same.
- You can substitute Creole seasoning for whatever flavor or spice blend you like.
- Canned beans don’t take long to cook. You may want to cook your ham hock in broth for a couple of hours separately, and then add the canned beans to that pot.