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+ servings

Crock Pot Beans and Cornbread

Simple, hearty, and flavorful, beans and cornbread is a traditional meal that's been enjoyed throughout the south, southwest, and Appalachia for generations!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword beans and cornbread, beans and cornbread recipe, pinto beans and cornbread, southern beans and cornbread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Resting Time 12 hours
Total Time 20 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 496kcal
Author Blair Lonergan



  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans
  • Cold water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 10-12 ounces)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (or about ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme or cilantro), chopped raw onion, chow-chow, sour cream, or grated cheese


  • 2 cups white or yellow self-rising cornmeal mix (not plain cornmeal)
  • 2 eggs (or 1 extra-large egg)
  • 1 ½ cups whole buttermilk, well shaken
  • ¼ cup (½ of a stick) salted butter, melted (use unsalted butter if you prefer a less-salty cornbread)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease, for coating the skillet



  • Place beans in a large bowl or pot. Cover with cold water by 2 inches. Cover and let stand overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Place the drained beans, broth, ham hock, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and ground black pepper to taste in a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Do not add salt at this time. Pour in enough cold water to cover the beans. Give everything a good stir.
  • Cover the slow cooker with a lid. Cook the beans on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or on LOW for 8-10 hours, until tender. Season with about 1 teaspoon of salt during the final 1-2 hours of cooking time. Discard ham hock, bay leaf, and thyme sprig. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to mash some of the beans, thickening the broth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.


  • Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven while you preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk or stir together the cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir just until combined; do not over-mix.
  • Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the oil to the hot skillet; spread to coat on the bottom and sides (I use a pastry brush for this).
  • Pour the batter into the greased skillet.
  • Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean, about 15 minutes.


  • Slice the cornbread into about 8-9 pieces. Ladle the beans into bowls and serve with cornbread for dipping, or place the cornbread on a plate and spoon the beans over top. Garnish with chow chow, herbs, and/or chopped onion.


  • Stir the pot occasionally while the beans cook. This will help to break down them down a bit, distribute the starches, and prevent sticking.
  • Smoked ham hocks can be quite salty, so wait to season the pot towards the end when you can give it a taste. Also, salting the beans too early in the cooking process can make them take longer to soften.
  • The total amount of water necessary will vary. As a result, check the beans periodically as you stir them and add extra water to cover, if necessary.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs (such as chopped parsley or thyme), a dash of hot sauce, pickled chow chow, a dash of vinegar, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a bright finishing touch.
  • Make sure that you're using self-rising cornmeal mix -- not plain cornmeal. The self-rising mix includes some flour, salt, and leavening agents in addition to the cornmeal.
  • Use full-fat buttermilk rather than a lower-fat alternative. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the cornbread moist.
  • Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the leavening agents to activate and incorporate more air.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter or it will become too dense, and you'll end up with dry cornbread.


Serving: 1/8 of the beans and cornbread | Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1003mg | Potassium: 1085mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 262mg | Iron: 6mg