Southern Comfort: Pinto Beans with Ham Hocks, Cornbread, and Pickled Onions

Embrace the heartwarming flavors of the American South with a soul-satisfying meal that encompasses the essence of comfort and tradition. “Pinto Beans with Ham Hocks, Cornbread, and Pickled Onions” is a cherished Southern classic that combines tender pinto beans simmered to perfection with smoky ham hocks, a side of crumbly cornbread, and zesty pickled onions. This dish represents the culinary heritage of the South, offering a hearty and flavorful experience that’s as warm as a Southern hug. Join us on a journey to prepare this beloved Southern comfort meal.


For the Pinto Beans:

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 2 ham hocks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Water

For the Cornbread:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 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
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions :

For the Pinto Beans:

1. Rinse and Soak:

  • Rinse the dried pinto beans under cold running water and remove any debris or pebbles. Place them in a large pot or bowl, cover with water, and allow them to soak overnight. Alternatively, you can use the quick soak method by bringing them to a boil for 2 minutes, then letting them sit for an hour.

2. Cook the Beans:

  • Drain the soaked beans and return them to the pot. Add the ham hocks, chopped onion, minced garlic, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Cover everything with water, ensuring the water level is about 2 inches above the beans.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the beans simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours or until they are tender. Check the water level periodically and add more if necessary.

For the Cornbread:

1. Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Grease an 8-inch square baking dish or a cast-iron skillet.

2. Combine Dry Ingredients:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Mix Wet Ingredients:

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and eggs.

4. Combine and Bake:

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Avoid overmixing.
  • Pour the cornbread batter into the prepared baking dish or skillet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the Pickled Onions:

1. Prepare the Pickling Liquid:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the white vinegar, water, granulated sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

2. Pickle the Onions:

  • Place the thinly sliced red onions in a heatproof jar or bowl. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the onions.

3. Cool and Chill:

  • Allow the pickled onions to cool to room temperature. Then, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Assemble and Serve:

  • To serve, ladle the tender pinto beans with ham hocks onto a plate. Add a portion of pickled onions, and accompany the dish with a slice of warm cornbread. Enjoy the soul-warming flavors of this classic Southern comfort meal.

“Pinto Beans with Ham Hocks, Cornbread, and Pickled Onions” is a true taste of Southern comfort, embracing the American South’s rich culinary heritage. Tender pinto beans with smoky ham hocks are simmered with the sweet and tangy crunch of pickled onions and served with crumbly, golden cornbread. This well-known Southern classic exemplifies the warmth, tradition, and hearty flavors of Southern cooking.

Whether you’re eating it with family and friends or on your own, it offers a taste of nostalgia and the heartwarming essence of Southern hospitality. Enjoy the soul-satisfying experience of this classic Southern comfort meal, a true embodiment of the culinary legacy of the South.