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Pinto Beans Ham Hocks Cornbread And Pickled Onions

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Today, ready your senses for a culinary expedition into the heartwarming realm of Southern comfort food that promises to satiate your taste buds with unmatchable delight! We’re bringing to your tables a tantalizing recipe that seamlessly blends the robust flavors of pinto beans, ham hocks, cornbread, and pickled onions. This dish is the epitome of Southern culinary tradition, a true melody of flavors. Imagine smoky, savory, with a hint of sweet, all uniting in impeccable gastronomic harmony. Whether you’re a culinary maestro or a kitchen novice, prepare to immerse yourself in this enticing, step-by-step guide. You’re about to create a soul-nourishing banquet that goes beyond mere nourishment, taking you on a flavorful journey to the Southern soul with every scrumptious bite. Get ready for a treat!

What exactly are pinto beans, and what is their significance in Southern cuisine?
Pinto beans are a variety of dried beans particularly famed in Southern cuisine for their creamy texture and rich, earthy flavor. They are fundamental to Southern cookery, adapting perfectly to diverse preparations including soups, stews, and sides.

Can different beans be used in place of pinto beans for this dish?
While pinto beans are the traditional choice for this Southern delicacy, you’re welcome to experiment with alternatives like navy beans or black-eyed peas. Each type will lend its unique taste and texture to the dish, offering a distinctive variation.

Is pre-soaking the pinto beans necessary before cooking them?
Pre-soaking dried beans is generally recommended as it lessens cooking time and aids in digestion. However, given the prolonged simmering time in this recipe, you may skip soaking if pressed for time.

Can this recipe be modified for vegetarians or vegans?
Absolutely, for a vegetarian adaptation, exclude the ham hocks and opt for vegetable broth to cook the pinto beans. For a vegan version, replace dairy and egg ingredients in the cornbread with plant-based substitutes.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes


  • For the Pinto Beans:
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 2-3 ham hocks (smoked or cured)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water
  • For the Cornbread:
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (adjust to preference)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • For the Pickled Onions:
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns


  • For the Pickled Onions:
  1. Start by combining white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and black peppercorns in a saucepan.
  2. Heat the mixture over medium-high until it boils.
  3. Arrange the sliced red onions in a heatproof container as the mixture heats.
  4. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the onions ensuring they are fully submerged.
  5. Let the onions cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, allowing them to marinate for several hours or overnight for an intensified flavor.
  • For the Pinto Beans:
  1. Commence by washing the pinto beans and removing any unwanted particles.
  2. Combine beans, ham hocks, diced onion, minced garlic, bay leaf, and water in a large pot. Water should be sufficient to cover the ingredients by at least an inch.
  3. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covering the pot, for about 2-3 hours or until beans are soft. Keep an eye out for water levels and add more if needed.
  4. Once beans are done, remove ham hocks, shred the meat and reintegrate it into the pot.
  5. Season the beans with salt and pepper, adjusting to your liking.
  • For the Cornbread:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. In one bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, blend buttermilk, oil, and eggs.
  4. Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Gracefully serve the beans adorned with ham hocks, accompanied by slices of warm, freshly baked cornbread and a side of the flavorful pickled onions. Enjoy the delightful symphony of flavors and let the dining experience be as mesmerizing as a Southern sunset!

Cooking Tips:

  • Soaking the beans is optional due to extended cooking time in this recipe.
  • Choose high-quality ham hocks for richer flavor.
  • Let the pickled onions marinate for enhanced tanginess.
  • Avoid overmixing the cornbread batter to maintain moisture and softness.
  • Ensure the oven is fully preheated for even baking of the cornbread and employ the toothpick test for doneness.
  • Adjust salt and pepper carefully as the salt content in ham hocks can vary.
  • Reheat leftovers gently to maintain bean texture.
  • Feel free to add your choice of beans, spices, or seasonings to match your palate.

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