Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking: Ham and Green Beans

I’m a Pennsylvania girl. And not only that, I’m a Pennsylvania Dutch girl.

I grew up right in the middle of Lancaster county, aka Amish Country USA. There are lots of old PA Dutch recipes that no one has heard of.. Shoofly Pie, Chicken Pot Pie without the crust (far superior to crusted pot pie), Fastnachts, original Whoopie Pies, Scrapple, Pig Stomach.. the list goes on, and brings us to Ham and Green Beans.

People, you haven’t lived until you’ve had this country meal. It takes a little time, but it’s so worth it. The recipe I have for you today is the old fashioned way, but there are shortcut recipes out there if you’re short on time. The way the savory flavors of the ham and green beans come together with the creaminess of the potatoes.. it’s so good.

It’s simple. It tastes like home.

A vacation to Amish country- just what you always wanted, right?

Ham and Green Beans

3-4 lb bone-in ham, uncooked
1-2 lb green beans, trimmed
5-6 potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
salt and pepper

1. In a large stock pot, cover the ham with water. Boil for 2 1/2-3 hours. Add extra water to cover as needed.

2. Add green beans to the pot and cook for 20-30 minutes. Remove the ham and add the potatoes. Cut or shred the meat while the potatoes cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Add the meat back to the pot and heat until warmed through. Let simmer until ready to serve.

41 Responses to “Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking: Ham and Green Beans”
  1. Wow – this dish takes me back. My mom used to make it ALL the time when I was growing up.

    I didn’t realize you were from PA. I grew up in Mt. Gretna (just over the Lebanon County line from Lancaster County) and now I live near Hershey. My parents actually have Amish neighbors, believe it or not!

  2. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Oh yeah! Growing up in Ohio we ate meals like this all the time. I made some beans the other day but just did a ham hock instead of pieces of ham. This looks so good. I really need to make another batch of beans…yum!

  3. likeahoho says:

    Amish style chicken pot pie is my favorite dish in the whole world. So much so that my mom makes it for me every year for my birthday…in july…in her house with no air conditioning. It’s totally worth the heat stroke.

    Ham and beans looks amazing as well 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    this is one of my all-time favorite meals! and the really funny part is that my mom made this for dinner the exact same day you posted this!

    hope you enjoyed your weekend in lancaster county 🙂

    love you!

  5. Donya says:

    I would love for you to post more of your favorite Amish dishes.

  6. I’m another Pennsylvania Dutch girl, now living in Massachusetts. I recently gathered up recipes from my mother, grandmothers, aunts and other family members for a cookbook and this recipe is very similar to one I have in it. PA Dutch food is so satisfying!

  7. Marc says:

    My grandmother used to make this all the time except hers had a whitish thick broth with it not the watery kind you see. We always had it with molasses bread! She passed away before I was old enough to get the recipe from her. Anyone have a recipe like this?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’d love that recipe too, Marc. I make this dish, but my broth is a little thin and bland. I ususally cook my ham all day before I add anything. Maybe if I just shred or chop it and add it back into the beans and potatoes and then cook tht with the lid off the broth will thicken? And I’m thinking about adding some garlic. I love garlic and eat it in everthing else. But some spice other than pepper is neede.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I lived in Allentown and used to head to a Mennonite food market near Topton to get summer savory for green beans. The Amish and Mennonites refer to it as “bean herb,” and I’ve always used it in this dish. That and a little butter in the broth to finish it. Thanks for posting this. Your recipe is perfect (except for summer savory).

  10. Thanks for sharing this info because is very good and i like to post like this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Reciepe just what I was looking for . 1st one on the net that is plain old fashion delicious meal. Thanks

  12. I got this recipe from a Pennsylvania Dutch friend and she always cooked bacon ends first before adding the ham. Makes a richer broth.

  13. xeno says:

    We ate this meal all the time growing up, especially in the fall/winter, I think we had it twice a week. Dad would bang everything into the crockpot in the early morning before work or school or hunting, and by evening we would have a wonderful, comforting meal waiting.

    We always had “lassy bread” with our ham and green beans. A slice of bread, butter, and Turkey Syrup or good sweet molasses, (King dark corn syrup if nothing else was available,) and apple cider vinegar drizzled over the plate too.

    My son turned 13 today, and asked for ham and green beans for his birthday supper. Tradition says I make it in the crock pot, but I have this new Lodge enameled dutch oven I have only used a few times, and found this site looking for cooking times and temps. Glad I did.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m a military wife (aka modern day nomad) and I’ve been homesick and craving some back-home foods from growing up in Berks County. Although I can’t say I miss Scrapple much, Ham and Green Beans is one dish I do miss! Making it tonight. Thanks for the site. 🙂

  15. I am from Lititz, Pa. I do have Amish neighbors. This is the recipe my mother made when I was growing up and I still make it for my family today. Yummy!

  16. Laurie says:

    I’m Laurie from Fulton County, PA and I’m so excited about your blog. Finally a real ham and green bean recipe…no canned ham! Thank you for sharing and please keep it coming! Keeping it real, Laurie

  17. ed says:

    Back to my Amish Morgantown PA roots, but now living in Savannah. This is the dish I am cooking for Thanksgiving tomorrow!

  18. Debbie says:

    I live in good ole Adamstown, PA. While I’m originally from suburbs of Philly, I have grown to love PA Dutch meals such as chicken pot pie & whoopie pies. This was just the recipe I was looking for! I’ll be making it today 🙂

  19. Jennifer says:

    I grew up in Williamsport, PA and my mom use to make this all the time. I now live in Seattle. I just made a big pot from a left over Chrismas ham I had frozen. One thing we always did that puts this recipe over the top is adding a dash of apple cider vinegar to your bowl right before you eat it. That with some fresh bread. Mmmmm ain’t nothin better. Pickled beets and eggs is another long time favorite. I love PA Dutch cuisine.

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh and I also add an onion to the stock. Love, love LOVE IT!

    • Amy says:

      I can’t eat enough pickled beets and eggs. Amazing how your local foods just stay with you through your life and you crave them!!! I love ham and beans, Lebanon Bologna, Snyder, Shuey’s and Utz pretzels, shoofly pie, etc etc. love PA cooking! (Well, maybe not the scrapple).

  20. Hikaru says:

    Still live in Harrisburg, still have an old-fashioned grandfather who cooks meals like this.

  21. Jenn says:

    How many people would you say this feeds? I’ve been making this for years with ham hocks, but I plan on taking it on a ski trip to VT this week and will be feeding 12 people. Would you make two batches?


  22. Lilragu says:

    Grew up on this recipie , We used to eat it kind of separated, I remember my Dutch Nanny making like this. So I went to the market and got a nice Ham Butt and made it just like this with fresh russets and fresh green beans added a bit of onion power (not too Much) and some parsley. and I think its helping melting the snow very good thank you from Newmanstown Lebanon County!!!

  23. tony g says:

    I just made this last night: water, celery, onion, carrot, and two ham hocks ( some olive oil, butter, garlic, and bay leaves as well). Simmer for two hours. Shred ham, remove celery, onions, and carrots, add green beans and potatoes. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove ham bones. Serve. Great american dish, but everywhere i look, people call this a southern dish. My momis german and we were both born in lancaster, so i always assumed pa dutch. Either way, it rocks (especially the way i make it, heheh, trust me)

  24. sue k says:

    I grew up on this type of cooking! To thicken the sauce and add that creamy color, and instant mashed potato flakes! Use sparingly because a little goes a long way.Adds a boost to the potato flavoring. Same technique can be used for bean soup.

  25. Carol H says:

    I grew up in Hagerstown, MD and my mother always made this after we had a big dinner with a baked ham. She used the rest of the ham cooked with the bone to make the broth. Then added green beans, potatoes, and corn. Sometimes she added yellow corn (fresh if she had it) if not, frozen, sometimes she added white corn, or both white and yellow. Loved it then and still love it. We always called this “Corn, Beans, and Potatoes”.

  26. Char Freed says:

    I found your site while searching for cook time for the green beans. I grew up in Lancaster Co. and now live in York. My Mom prepared a lot of PA Dutch meals. Good meals and good memories.

  27. John Minnick says:

    Am going to make this for dinner tonight. Haven’t had it in quite a while. One addition would be to add just a splash of vinegar-either apple cider, or malt.

  28. Mike Locher says:

    Yes this is a long time favorite of mine. I do a little search to see if there were some different ideas.
    First suggestion to add to this is Red Wine Vinegar while cooking, just a little. Then when its served put this on the side.
    It really makes a big difference. Also while cooking, I use ham from the holidays and get it with the bone.
    After cooking I like to let the broth sit and cool. ALL the fat comes to the top and then I skim it off.
    Not very Dutch of me, but live and learn.

  29. Samantha says:

    I miss PA dutch food so much. I have been living in Texas for 9 years now… It’s not like home.

  30. Sheri says:

    Grew up in State College, Pa! Had this growing up and served it with apple cider vinegar on the table. Add to taste for each serving. Omg! You must try! I live for Amish Schnitz un Knepp! A must try!

  31. Hazel says:

    Chiming in from Bloomsburg! I got this recipe from my grandmother who has been making it for longer than I can remember. A little vinegar goes a long way! I prefer apple cider vinegar but distilled white works just as well too!
    In the crock pot as we speak!

    • Robin says:

      We made it this way since my Great great grandmother, and my daughter makes it too. We all liked to add dashes of vinegar to our plate.

  32. Neva Covalle says:

    Could you please share your pot pie recipe. Ham and string beans are just as my mom made. She was from York. She died before giving me the pot pie recipe, and I haven’t been able to duplicate it.

  33. Bob Tyler (aunt Ora's ham and Beans) says:

    My French Canadian Aunt Ora used to make hers with fresh smoked ham and garden beans.
    Basically the same dish but better than any ham and beans out there.
    Boiled ham with onion and black pepper.
    Piles of hot whipped Maine mashed potato.
    Beans gently simmered in ham broth and NOT cooked to mush.
    Finish with fresh butter and cream from the farm.
    Nothing better.
    Everyone who tries the meal when I make it say it is the best ham dinner EVER!
    Thank you from everyone to aunt Ora in advance.

  34. Charlie says:

    Was searching for a recipe like this to burn off out Christmas ham leftovers. Grew up in N.E Ohio and grew up on dishes like this. I’ve been in N.M for a few years now and miss types of food that are native to me. Thanks for posting this.

  35. Beth says:

    I just found your recipe because I have leftover ham from Christmas and thought of ham and green beans. Im from Carlisle and my parents are from PA.too. I grew up in Cleveland, OH but went back and visited relatives all the years I was growing up. If you want a thicker broth, take out the ham after its cooked and add the cubed potatoes to the broth and cook till really soft. Then you can take a potato masher and mash them up a little, add the green beans and the ham back to the pot. It doesnt take very long to cook if your ham is smoked or leftover. Im going to start my pot right now, thanks for the post!!!!

  36. Tara says:

    I am originally from Danville, PA and my mom made this alot when I was growing up. I loved the salty ham broth. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m going to share it with my family tonight. 🙂

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