The BEST Navy Beans Recipe (2024)

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Our Navy Beans Recipe is pure comfort food. Tender white beans simmer with ham, aromatic veggies, cherry tomatoes and plenty of herbs for the most flavorful bowl of beans ever.

Make them quick and easy with canned beans, or go with dried, either way our simple recipe is going to give you new appreciation for the humble legume.

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Legumes and beans stand out as some of the most nutritious yet wallet-friendly ingredients available. And there’s so many different ways to cook them.

From the Mediterranean flavors of our Cannellini Beans to Cajun Red Beans to our beloved Puerto Rican Habichuelas, there’s a world of flavors to cook when you have a can or bag of beans.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

Everyone will love this dish because it has bold flavors from ham, herbs, and veggies, making it super tasty and comforting. It’s packed with nutrients from navy beans and various vegetables, offering lots of fiber, protein, and vitamins.

It’s easy to make, with simple steps and ingredients, perfect for regular weeknight meals. It’s also budget-friendly, using affordable beans and leftover ham. You can easily adjust the soup’s thickness to how you like it, and it’s a one-pot recipe, so cleaning up is super easy and the flavors blend perfectly together.

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Ingredient Notes

​You can find exact measurements in the recipe card at the end of the post. Here is what you will need:

  • Navy Beans – Navy beans, also known as Boston beans or pea beans, are creamy and have a mild flavor, making them a perfect for the other flavors in the dish. Cannellini or Great Northern beans could be used as substitutes.
  • Olive Oil – You might also use butter or bacon grease for a varied flavor profile.
  • Ham – The secret ingredient. It adds a rich, savory flavor to the dish. You can also use bacon, sausage, or omit it entirely for a meatless dinner.
  • Carrot, Celery, and Onion – These classic aromatics lay the foundation for the dish.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best, but garlic powder could work in a pinch.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – They add a sweet, tangy, and fresh element to the dish. Grape tomatoes or diced regular tomatoes can be used as alternatives.
  • Chicken Stock or Broth – Vegetable broth or water with a bouillon cube can be used instead.
  • Bay Leaf, Thyme, and Rosemary – These herbs add a lot to the dish. If you happen to have fresh rosemary or thyme available, use triple the amount you would with dried.
  • Salt – To taste towards the end. You may not need any, as both the ham and broth contribute to the saltiness.
  • Black Pepper – Also to taste.
  • Fresh Parsley – For garnish.

Easy Navy Beans Recipe

1. Brown ham: Sauté diced ham over medium-high heat until it begins to brown up and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

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2. Sauté aromatics: Add a little more oil, then sauté carrot, celery and onion until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3. Blister tomatoes: Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they begin to blister, about another 5 minutes.

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4. Finish the dish: Add in chicken broth and stir the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add in beans, herbs and browned ham.

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Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15 minutes, adding in some additional water if you prefer a soupier consistency. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper towards the end of cooking time.

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How to Prepare Dried Beans

If using dry beans, they must first be soaked and cooked. For this recipe, use about 1.5 cups of dried beans.

For an overnight soak, place beans in a large soup pot or dutch oven and cover with at least 2 inches of cold water. Soak at least 8 hours.

Alternately, you can use the quick soak method. Place the beans in a large pot and cover them with about 2-3 inches of water. Bring the water to a rapid boil and let the beans boil for about 2-3 minutes. After boiling, remove the pot from the heat, cover it with a lid, and let the beans soak for about 1 hour.

Drain, then refill the pot with water. Salt generously. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the soaked beans for about 1.5-2 hours, or until they are soft to your liking.

Serving Suggestions

How you serve the beans depend on your preferred consistency. If you add more water to make them soupier, a side of crusty bread is perfect for dipping.

We often cook ours a little drier. In that case, ladle some beans atop a bed of rice for a hearty meal. You can also try other grains like farro or quinoa, or small pasta shapes like orzo.

If you want a side dish to go with your beans, think a fresh salad or green vegetable.

Storage and Reheating

These navy beans make great leftovers, and are perfect for meal prep. Refrigerate them in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat on stove top over medium heat, or in the microwave, with a splash of additional water.

They also freeze well in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge the day before eating.

Easy, tasty, nutritious, and satisfying. That’s our navy bean recipe for you. Make a big batch, and see just how good a simple pot of beans can be.

Make sure to save or pin this recipe, it will be a great addition to your cooking repertoire. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new easy recipes for you!

Navy Beans, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

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Try these other great bean recipes!
Cuban Black Beans
Harira Soup
Spanish Clams with Beans
Black Bean Chili
Three Bean Salad
Tuscan Bean Soup
Ful Medames

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The BEST Navy Beans Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Our easy Navy Beans Recipe is a budget friendly dinner option, with big flavors from ham, aromatics and herbs. Perfect comfort food for a cold winter night!


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 8oz ham, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 15oz cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add diced ham and sauté until it begins to brown up and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add remining tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced carrot, celery and onion. Sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they begin to blister, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Add in chicken broth and stir the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add in beans, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and browned ham. Mix well. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15 minutes, adding in some water if you prefer a soupier consistency. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  5. Serve navy beans immediately on their own, or atop rice. Garnish with fresh parsley.


  1. 1.5 cups of dried beans can be used in place of canned. Refer to the body of the post for soaking and cooking instructions.
  2. Refrigerate cooled leftovers in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or on stovetop over medium heat, adding additional water if desired.
  3. This recipe can be scaled using the same ratios.
Nutrition Information

Yield 4Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 465Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 38mgSodium 1570mgCarbohydrates 62gFiber 24gSugar 4gProtein 31g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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    The BEST Navy Beans Recipe (2024)


    What's the best seasoning for navy beans? ›

    • 2 cups dry navy beans - cooked or 3 15 oz cans of navy beans.
    • 2 big sprigs of fresh rosemary.
    • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme.
    • 2 bay leaves.
    • 6-8 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley about 1 cup, chopped.
    • 1/2-1 tsp crushed chili.
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon.
    • salt and pepper.

    How long does it take for navy beans to get soft? ›

    Cooking Times
    Bean TypeSoaking TimeCooking Time
    Kidney Beans, dark red6 to 8 hours*1 ½ to 2 hours
    Navy Beans6 to 8 hours*1 to 1 1/2 hours
    Pinto Beans6 to 8 hours*1 to 1 ½ hours
    Small Red Beans6 to 8 hours*1 to 1 ½ hours
    6 more rows

    How many cups of water to cook navy beans? ›

    First you'll need to strain your beans from the cold water they've been soaking in. Then put the beans into a pot and cover them with six cups of hot water for every pound (. 45 kg) of beans. Turn on your stove and bring the water to a boil and then simmer the beans for 1.5 to 2 hours.

    Do you have to soak navy beans before making soup? ›

    The short answer to this question is no. You don't have to soak your dried beans overnight. We'll get to what you can do instead in a second, but first, a note about why we soak beans. Soaking beans in the refrigerator overnight will reduce the time they have to cook drastically.

    What do you put in beans to make them taste better? ›

    Dried beans cooked with sea salt and water are delicious, but adding an onion, garlic, or other aromatics to the pot will make them even more flavorful!

    What gives beans a good flavor? ›

    Salt, spices, and aromatics are the keys to flavorful beans.

    What happens if you don't soak navy beans before cooking? ›

    Modern cooking websites often say it doesn't matter. In a way, they're both right. Soaking beans can help improve the texture of the final product once the beans are cooked and reduce the gas produced when the food is being digested. But it isn't necessary to soak them.

    Should you add baking soda to beans? ›

    If you use a little baking soda, your old beans will look and taste better and have an improved texture! They will also take less time to cook!

    What happens if you don't soak navy beans? ›

    But, then I learned something astonishing: You can actually skip soaking beans over night, and actually you should. Not only does it shorten the amount of time until you have ready-to-eat beans, it also produces a more flavorful end result.

    Can you overcook navy beans? ›

    Overcooked beans are perfectly safe to eat, but while they may be edible, they'll be less pleasant to consume. Signs that your beans are overcooked include them being very soft and mushy. Tender beans are ideal, but if they lack firmness and don't keep their shape, they have probably simmered for too long.

    Do you cover beans when cooking? ›

    Cook the beans uncovered until they're tender. Some foam might gather on top of the pot; skim it off with a spoon as necessary. If the water level drops below the beans, add more water so the beans are covered at all times.

    How long do navy beans need to cook? ›

    Great Northern beans: 45-60 minutes. Kidney beans: 90-120 minutes. Navy beans: 90-120 minutes. Pinto beans: 90-120 minutes.

    Can you boil navy beans instead of soaking them? ›

    Bring cold water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat. Add beans and salt, and return to a simmer; cover. Bake beans in the preheated oven until tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to ensure beans are still covered with water. If necessary, add just enough water to cover.

    Does onions make beans cook faster? ›

    The onion slices will have an impact on the seeds, altering the protein bonds that make them resistant to heat, and as a result, your beans will soften quickly, saving you time and cooking gas.

    Should you soak beans in the fridge or on the counter? ›

    Soaking thoroughly cleans accumulated buildup on the surface of the bean, such as dirt, pesticide residue or contamination from rodents and insects. Soaking also allows beans to cool evenly. Like grains, soak at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

    What seasoning should I put in my beans? ›

    A few items I reach for when making beans are: cumin, onions, garlic, bay leaves, chipotle peppers in adobo, bell peppers, poblano peppers, spicy chili peppers of any kind, cilantro, coriander, paprika, liquid smoke, celery, vegetable stock, black pepper, salt and lime juice.

    How do you get the bitterness out of navy beans? ›

    Soaking: Soaking the beans in water for several hours can help remove some of the bitterness. A general rule of thumb is to soak the beans for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    What do you put in navy beans to prevent gas? ›

    To cut down on the gassy properties, you can add a little baking soda to your recipe. The baking soda helps break down some of the beans' natural gas-making sugars.

    Do you season beans before or after cooking? ›

    There's a myth out regarding beans and salt — specifically, that you should never salt your beans before cooking because the salt keeps them from cooking through. That's just not true. You can add salt to your bean pot at the beginning of cooking, and your beans will be better seasoned for it.


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