Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

$6.56 recipe / $0.82 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.89 from 17 votes
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Have you ever seen those bags of 16 bean soup mix in the dry bean aisle at the grocery store? Well, they’re kinda like the ramen of the bean world. They come with their own packet of “flavoring” that you’re supposed to boil with the beans to yield a delicious hearty soup. I like to flavor my soups with my own mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices, so here’s my own version of Ham and Bean Soup.

Something special happens when you boil meat, bones and all of the connective tissue into a broth. It might seem frightening at first and it certainly doesn’t look very appetizing but I promise you that every soup you’ve eaten that has that certain “je ne sais quois” has this magic broth. From homemade chicken noodle soup to Vietnamese pho, they’ve all got the boiled bones and slow-cooked gelatinized tissues. So, please over look the unsightly ham hocks and believe me when I tell you they *make* this soup. You can use smoked turkey wings instead if you’d like. They’ll still give you great flavor and they have less fat but they’re also more expensive.

Also, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you cane make this on the stove top in a pot. Just let it simmer with a lid in place until the beans are soft (2-4 hours).

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup in bowl with spoon on side

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Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

4.89 from 17 votes
Make your slow cooker do all the work with this recipe for thick, rich, and flavorful Ham and Bean Soup. 
Servings 8
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 4 hours
Total 4 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 med yellow onion ($0.50)
  • 3 stalks celery ($0.46)
  • 4 med carrots ($0.49)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.23)
  • 2 med smoked ham hocks ($1.99)
  • 1 lb. dry 16 bean mix ($2.19)
  • 2 whole bay leaves ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chicken base or bouillon ($0.45)
  • to taste salt and pepper ($0.05)
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  • The night before, rise the beans, pick through and remove any stones or debris. Place in a large container, cover with 2x the amount of water and refrigerate over night.
  • Dice the onion, carrot, and celery. Mince the garlic. Place all four in the bottom of the slow cooker. Nestle two ham hocks down into the vegetables.
  • Pour the soaking water off of the beans and rinse again. Pour the drained beans into the slow cooker on top of the vegetables and ham hocks. Add the seasoning (2 bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1.5 Tbsp chicken base and a few cranks of black pepper). Add 6 cups of water, give everything a light stir to distribute the seasoning a bit but don’t disturb the vegetables or ham hocks.
  • Secure the lid on top of the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or until the beans are soft and have absorbed most of the water.
  • Stir the soup and remove the ham hocks. Pick any meat off of the ham hocks and return it to the soup. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning to your liking (salt, pepper, hot sauce, Tony Chachere’s, smoked paprika? Anything you want). Serve hot with any garnishes you like (sour cream, cheese, green onions, crusty bread… get creative!)

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 250.06kcalCarbohydrates: 37.9gProtein: 16.91gFat: 2.94gSodium: 572.71mgFiber: 16.03g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup in bowl with spoon on side

Step By Step Photos

bean soup mix in packaging
This is the dry bean soup mix I was talking about. Sometimes it’s called 16 bean soup mix and sometimes you can even find it in the bulk bins which is nice if you want to make a half batch. Rinse the beans and soak over night in the refrigerator with two times the amount of water (they’ll expand).

chopped vegetables in bottom of slow cooker
Dice the onion, carrots and celery. Mince the garlic. Place all of them in the bottom of your slow cooker. I used celery that I had cleaned, cut and frozen previously… so that’s frost on there, not mold.

ham hock in package
Here is the package of ham hocks that I bought. I used two and froze the third. I’ll probably use the third one the next time I make collard greens. They looks scary but taste fantastic. Promise. And they’re much less gross than chicken carcasses, IMHO.

ham hocks added to slow cooker on top of vegetables
Nestle the ham hocks down into the vegetables.

rinse beans in strainer
Pour off the soaking water from the beans and give them another rinse.

beans and seasoning poured on top of veggies and ham hocks in slow cooker, seasoning added on very top
Pour the beans on top of the veggies and ham hock and then add the seasoning (bay leaves, thyme, oregano, chicken base, pepper).

water added to slow cooker and all ingredients stirred, ready to cook
Pour on 6 cups of water and give it a gentle stir just to distribute the seasoning. Secure the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours.

cooked beans soup in slow cooker
You’ll know it’s done because the beans will be big, swollen, soft and it will look like most of the water has absorbed. Plus, it will be filling your house with an amazing, smokey ham scent. Yum.

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup in white bowl with spoon
Remove the ham hocks, pick any meat off of the bone and then stir it back into the soup. Give it a good taste and adjust the seasoning with whatever you want. Chances are you won’t need salt because of the ham hocks and chicken base but you may want to add hot sauce, smoked paprika or maybe nothing at all! Also, check out your fridge and garnish with whatever might be left in there. Sour cream? Cheese? Green onions? Maybe make some rice and top the bowl with a scoop? Lots of possibilities here.

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  1. This was absolutely delicious!!! I served with rice cooked in vegetable broth with salt and butter, a dollop of sour cream on top, and Louisiana hot sauce.

  2. Love this soup. I do switch between leftover ham bones(no sweet glaze) and roasted turkey legs to keep it budget friendly. Vegetable bouillon also works good too.

  3. This is one of the few soups my toddler will eat.
    Because beans make you poot (we say poot instead of fart), and this soup has many different kinds of beans.
    Now we call this “Poot Soup”.

  4. Where do you buy smoked ham hocks? I haven’t seen them in my local grocery store, but i also haven’t checked the Asian grocery stores for them.

    1. They’re usually just in the meat department, but since they’re not as popular anymore and they probably don’t sell a lot of them, you might need to ask someone in the meat dept. if they carry them. :)

  5. I have a hard time finding ham hocks and have never seen smoked turkey legs here. Would bacon work, and if so, would you cook it before you put it in the slow cooker? 

    I have tried quite a few of your recipes and enjoyed all of them. I can’t say that about any other cooking site or cookbook. Thank you! 

    1. Thank you! I haven’t tried using bacon in any slow cooker recipes yet, but I think I would probably cook it first, and make sure to use some of the fat that renders off in the slow cooker, since that’s where a lot of the flavor is.

  6. Could you cook this for longer on low? My days at work are long so it would be nice to have this ready and waiting for when I got home!

  7. This is currently in the crock. I couldn’t find smoked hocks, but they did have plain split feet. It won’t have the smokiness, but hopefully it will still turn out good.

  8. It would be so helpful to list what size slow cooker we’ll need for the recipe. I made this yesterday and it overflowed my crock pot! I caught it before it ran over onto the counter and was able to remove some liquid, but it would be nice to know beforehand. The recipe was great though! 👍

  9. Can you use ham steaks instead of ham hocks? just curious if you can, depending on much one or the other is. I need to do some investigating at my local grocery store.

    1. You definitely could and the amount is totally flexible. It just depends on how much ham you want in your soup. :) The ham hock will give a bit more flavor than a ham steak, though, since it has the bone and everything intact.

  10. This was easy and everyone loved it in my family! It a keeper and I will make it again…and I didn’t change a thing!! The smoked ham hock really added great flavor to this soup! 

  11. With hubby, toddler and me battling coughs and congestion, this hot, hearty soup hit the spot! Even our 2 yr old daughter asked for seconds :).