These Easy, Effortless Northern Beans are perfect for a cold day. It’s an easy recipe and every bowl it makes is filled with flavor.
By nature, Northern Beans have no cholesterol, plenty of complex carbs, and no fat (Web MD). They are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein. You can make them as a meatless main dish. I like the addition of ham hocks cooked in chicken broth, but meatless is an option.
I always seem to be running, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is to stand over a hot stove–though sometimes I do. These beans are almost effortless and easy to make in the slow cooker.
Through the years, I’ve been given a lot of bean recipes. Some have been better than others, and some have been more complicated than others. In the end, my mother-in-law sent me her recipe, I added my own flair, and here we are. It’s the recipe I am most asked for all the time.
Anyway, nothing fancy. If you can open a box, you’re pretty much-guaranteed success.
Effortless Slow-Cooker Northern Beans
Prep Time: 24 hours (includes soaking time)
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 29 hours (including prep and cook time)
- 1 lb bag of dried Northern Beans
- 1 ham hock
- 1 box (32 oz) Chicken Broth
- Optional: 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- Optional: 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- Optional: 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained (for Jazzed-Up version)
How to Make Effortless Slow-Cooker Northern Beans
Prep and Soak the Beans:
- Place the Northern Beans in a large bowl and cover them with cold water.
- Allow the beans to soak overnight for at least 12 hours. This helps soften the beans and reduce cooking time.
- In the morning, check the beans and add more cold water if needed.
- Skim off any floating beans or impurities from the water.
- Drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water.
Setting up the Slow Cooker:
- Transfer the soaked and drained beans to the slow cooker.
- If you wish to add extra flavors, sauté the finely chopped onion and thinly sliced carrots in a skillet until they become tender. Add them to the slow cooker along with the beans.
- Place the ham hock in the slow cooker, nestled among the beans and vegetables.
Adding the Chicken Broth:
- Pour the entire box of Chicken Broth over the beans and ham hock. The broth should be enough to cover all the ingredients and ensure they cook evenly.
Slow-Cooking the Beans:
- Set the slow cooker on high heat and let it cook for 6-8 hours until the beans are tender and fully cooked. The ham hock will impart a rich, smoky flavor to the beans.
Optional: Thicken the Beans:
- After the beans have cooked, you can use a spoon to mash some of the beans against the side of the slow cooker. This will help thicken the broth and create a creamier texture. If you prefer a chunkier texture, you can skip this step.
Serving the Effortless Northern Beans:
- Carefully remove the ham hock from the slow cooker and shred the tender meat. Discard any excess fat and bones.
- Ladle the beans into serving bowls, making sure to distribute the ham evenly.
- Serve the Effortless Northern Beans hot with your favorite side dishes or enjoy them as a hearty standalone meal.
Jazz It Up: For a flavorful twist, consider adding a can of drained diced tomatoes to the slow cooker along with the chicken broth. The tangy sweetness of tomatoes will complement the savory beans and ham hock, creating a delightful taste profile.
These Effortless Slow-Cooker Northern Beans are a comforting and delicious dish that requires minimal effort, making it perfect for busy days or when you want a warm, satisfying meal without much hassle. Enjoy the rich and hearty flavors of these tender Northern Beans, either on their own or paired with your favorite accompaniments!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Can I use canned Northern Beans instead of dried beans for this recipe? A1: While this recipe is designed for dried Northern Beans, you can use canned Northern Beans as a time-saving alternative. If you choose to use canned beans, there’s no need for overnight soaking or the long cook time. Simply drain and rinse the canned beans, then proceed with the recipe by adding the beans to the slow cooker, along with the ham hock, onions, carrots (if using), and chicken broth. Cook on low heat for about 2-3 hours until the flavors meld together.
Q2: Can I make this recipe vegetarian or vegan? A2: Yes, you can easily adapt this recipe to be vegetarian or vegan. To make it vegetarian, omit the ham hock and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. For a vegan version, make the same substitutions and ensure that any optional vegetables (onions and carrots) are used. The beans will still be flavorful and satisfying without the ham hock.
Q3: Can I freeze the leftovers? A3: Absolutely! Leftover Northern Beans can be frozen for future meals. Allow the beans to cool completely before transferring them to airtight containers or freezer bags. Label them with the date and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy the beans again, simply thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
Q4: How can I adjust the seasoning to suit my taste preferences? A4: This recipe provides a simple and mild flavor profile. If you prefer more seasoning, feel free to add herbs and spices such as bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, or garlic powder. Salt and pepper can also be adjusted to taste. Taste the beans while they’re cooking, and if desired, add more seasoning accordingly. Remember that the ham hock already contributes to the overall flavor, so consider that when adding additional seasonings.
Q5: Can I use a pressure cooker instead of a slow cooker? A5: Yes, you can adapt this recipe for a pressure cooker. After soaking and draining the beans, place them in the pressure cooker along with the ham hock, onions, carrots (if using), and chicken broth. Seal the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for about 20-25 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, and then proceed with the optional step of mashing some beans against the side for thicker consistency.
Q6: What are some recommended side dishes to serve with Northern Beans? A6: Effortless Northern Beans go well with a variety of side dishes. Some popular options include cornbread, steamed rice, crusty bread, coleslaw, or a simple green salad. You can also pair them with cooked greens, roasted vegetables, or grilled meats for a complete and satisfying meal.
Remember that cooking times and serving sizes may vary depending on your specific slow cooker or stove, so it’s essential to adjust accordingly to achieve the desired results. Enjoy the ease and comfort of this hearty bean dish!