Get the Most Out of Your Ham Bone – Tips for Using It Over and Over Again

That delicious ham bone from your holiday meal or Sunday dinner doesn’t have to be a one-time use! With a little creativity, you can reuse a ham bone many times to add rich smoky flavor to soups beans, greens, and more. In this article, we’ll explore how to maximize your ham bone for multiple uses.

First Use: Make a Smoky Ham Stock

The first thing you’ll want to do is make a stock A ham bone has tons of collagen and marrow which will lend body, mouthfeel, and nutritious gelatin to your stock

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place the ham bone in a large stock pot and cover with water by 2-3 inches. Add any ham trimmings or meat scraps too.

  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Skim any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.

  • Add veggies like onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. You can also add a bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, and any other aromatics.

  • Gently simmer for 4-6 hours, adding more water as needed to keep the bones covered.

  • Strain through a mesh sieve. Discard solids.

  • Cool broth completely and then refrigerate. The fat will rise to the top and solidify for easy removal.

You now have a rich, versatile ham stock perfect for soups like split pea, bean soup, or lentils. It also makes a great cooking liquid for greens, grains, and potatoes.

Second Use: Beans or Lentils

After making your stock, the ham bone still has plenty of flavor. Next up – beans or lentils! The bone infuses them with smoky, meaty flavor as they cook.

  • Sort through 1 pound dried beans or lentils and rinse.

  • Place in a pot and cover with ample water. Add the ham bone, 1 onion, garlic, and any desired seasonings.

  • Simmer until beans are tender, 1-2 hours usually.

  • Remove bone before serving.

Some great bean choices are navy, great northern, cannellini, or chickpeas. For lentils, try green or brown. The possibilities are endless!

Third Use: Greens and Potatoes

Hardy greens and root veggies also benefit from long, slow cooking with a ham bone. Try cooking up a pot of:

  • Collard greens, kale, turnip greens, or mustard greens. Rinse greens, then chop leaves and stems.

  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, or turnips. Peel and cut into 1-inch pieces.

  • Fill a large pot with greens and potatoes. Add the ham bone, 1-2 onions, garlic, and seasonings like smoked paprika.

  • Cover with water or ham stock. Simmer until veggies are tender, about 1 hour.

The bone adds a wonderful smoky pork flavor while also imparting minerals to the greens and potatoes. It’s classic Southern comfort food at its best.

Fourth Use: Split Pea or Ham and Bean Soup

Your ham bone still has enough flavor for a pot of hearty soup. Try split pea or ham and bean soup:

Split Pea Soup

  • Rinse 1 pound split peas and sort through, removing any stones or debris.

  • Place in a soup pot along with the ham bone, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and any other desired seasoning.

  • Add enough water or ham stock to cover ingredients by 1-2 inches.

  • Simmer for 1-2 hours until peas are soft.

  • Remove bone before blending or serving.

Ham and Bean Soup

  • Sort through 1 pound dried beans and rinse. Place in pot and cover with water. Add the ham bone.

  • Simmer until beans are almost tender, about 1 hour.

  • Add smoked ham pieces, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and seasonings. Continue cooking 30 minutes.

  • Remove bone before serving.

The ham bone adds that smoky, savory flavor that makes these classic soups so comforting.

Fifth Use: Ham Bone Omelet

Believe it or not, you can make one more use of that bone by simmering it in water to make “ham tea” for cooking.

  • Place the bone in a small pot with 2 cups water. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  • Discard bone. Reserve liquid.

  • Whisk together eggs for an omelet. Add a splash of the ham tea.

  • Cook omelet as usual in butter or oil.

The ham tea adds a boost of smoky flavor to ordinary eggs. It’s a great way to start the day.

Storage Tips

Get the most mileage out of your ham bone with proper storage:

  • Refrigerate fresh ham bone for up to 4 days.

  • Ham stock keeps for 5 days refrigerated or 6 months frozen.

  • Cooked beans and soups with ham bone can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 4-6 months.

With proper freezing and reheating, you can stretch one ham bone into a week or more of delicious meals!

Get Creative with Leftover Ham

Don’t forget about the leftover ham meat too! Use it in:

  • Omelets, scrambles, and frittatas

  • Sandwiches

  • Salads

  • Soups, stews, and chili

  • Pasta bakes or casseroles

  • Stir fries and fried rice

  • Quiche or ham and egg cups

  • Pizza, flatbreads, and paninis

  • Ham and cheese rolls

  • Breakfast burritos or tacos

With a little creativity in the kitchen, a single ham bone can give you up to 5-6 uses, infusing flavorful ham essence into stocks, beans, veggies, soups and more. Follow these tips to reduce waste and get the most value out of your holiday ham. Your taste buds will thank you.

Leftover Ham Bone Soup | Keep the Bone!


Can a ham bone be used more than once?

Depending how much meat comes off the bone, you may be able to reuse it if you refrigerate it between uses. Salt and pepper the recipe to taste.

How long is a ham bone good for?

For best results, try to use your frozen ham bone within three months. There may be some loss of flavor if you keep it longer, and any bits of meat and cartilage remaining on it may get freezer burn or dry out.

Can a ham hock be used more than once?

Once the ham hocks are finished cooking, the leftover liquid can be strained and used as the base broth for the recipe. The ham hock meat itself can be trimmed and added back into the dish later or even used in an entirely different dish.

How to reuse a ham bone?

Tossing a ham bone into a pot of simmering beans makes the whole thing meaty and extra savory. And while this technique is most often applied to red beans, it works just as well with chickpeas, white beans, and black beans.

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