A super simple slow cooker great northern beans recipe using a leftover ham bone and dried beans. It's delicious southern comfort food made easy in the slow cooker. You will love this easy crock pot recipe!
Slow cooker great northern beans and ham: easy comfort food
I grew up on beans and cornbread at my grandma's house. A pot of beans was almost always cooking on the stove when we would visit. Today it still remains one of my beloved comfort foods.
Beans are such an inexpensive food. I love that you can take such simple ingredients and turn them into a delicious meal that doesn't require much effort or extra cost.
Cooking dry beans can be intimidating for the beginner cook. I don't know why, but it is. My favorite way to cook beans is in the slow cooker. It's totally hands off, no need to worry about the water boiling over, and they come out perfect every time. To me, it's fool proof.
Slow cooking produces tender creamy beans, and I love being able to put them on in the morning and forget about them until dinner. It's perfect on cold days when you want something warm and cozy.
Make sure to try my crockpot pinto beans as well on a cold winter day. They are delicious too!
Leftover ham bone
This is a ham bone. It's from a leftover holiday ham with most of the ham cut from the bone. Using the leftover ham bone in these delicious slow cooker beans is a great way to make the most of the ham and use up all of the ham bits left on the bone.
If you don't have a leftover ham bone, you could also use a ham hock, which is a pork knuckle and usually very inexpensive. Both will impart a delicious ham flavor to your beans.
How to cook crock pot great northern beans
In a large bowl or stock pot, add beans and about 2 inches of water covering the beans. Let sit overnight on the counter at room temperature. If you are short on time or forgot to soak the night before, either skip the soak or try a quick soak.
For a quick soak method, place beans in a pot covered with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let soak for one hour.
The next day drain the soaking water and rinse the beans. Pour into the slow cooker along with the ham hock, water, salt, and black pepper.
Cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.
Remove ham bone from beans, shred any meat that can come off the bone and return the meat to the pot.
Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed.
Serve with cornbread or crusty bread.
Can I make this without meat?
Yes, of course. Simply omit the ham bone. If you are not using ham, it may need more salt, and I would add a couple of bay leaves and chopped onion for extra flavor.
Do I have to soak the beans first?
For optimal digestion and to help the beans soften, I recommend soaking. You don't absolutely have to soak the beans before slow cooking if you are short on time. The beans should still soften after 8 hours on low.
Why are my beans not tender?
There are a couple of reasons that your means may not be soft after 8 hours.
- Your beans may be old. Old beans often have a hard time softening.
- Your slow cooker isn't heating properly. Try cooking on high. You may need a new slow cooker though.
Can I freeze the beans?
Yes. Beans freeze very well. To freeze, put leftover cooked beans and ham in an airtight sealed container or in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Lay flat in the freezer.
Slow cooker great northern beans
- 1 slow cooker
- 1 large bowl
- 2 ½ cups dry great northern beans
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 6 cups water
- 1 leftover ham bone
- Rinse beans well in a colander and remove any stones or beans that do not appear good.
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water 2 inches above the beans. Let stand overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, drain soaking water and place beans in a slow cooker along with 6 cups of water, salt, pepper, and leftover ham bone. If not using a ham bone, add 2 bay leaves and 1 quartered onion for extra flavor.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. If beans are not tender after time has elapsed, cover and cook longer.
- Remove ham bone from slow cooker, de-bone ham bone and shred any ham that is able to be removed. Return ham to beans and stir.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.