How to Cook a Ham Hock

Ham and bean soup using a ham hock
 Have you ever seen recipes that call for cooking a ham hock, like ham and bean soup, and you've always wondered exactly what to do?  You may have seen those brown smoked ham hocks in the meat department and it made you wonder exactly what you are supposed to do?  Let me talk you through cooking your first ham hock.

A ham hock is not the hoof as you may have been told, it's actually the joint at the extreme far end of the shank, above the foot and ankle, where the leg and foot connect.

 Many stores sell it pre-smoked. This type of ham hock is good for cooking with greens and other vegetables where you want a smoky taste added to the dish without adding the meat, it is used for flavoring only.

 If you want to cook one for a soup or other recipe where you want to add the ham to the dish, you'll want to buy an uncooked one.  I bought mine at Walmart, in the meat section where the sell their hams. You will find both ham hocks and small ham chunks mixed together. They are very similar and so I bought both to show you.

The ham chunk I cooked down for Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta.  The ham chunks are just that, a small chunk of uncooked ham, usually with out a bone it. Ham Hocks have a bone.  I don't think all  stores give you choices between ham chunks and ham hocks. Let's cook a ham hock today so you can feel a little more familiar with it. (both were around $2.00)
What is a ham hock

Let's get you started:
How to cook a Ham Hock

1) Unwrap the ham hock from it's packaging. Rinse meat and place in boiling water or in my case, I am making soup, so I placed mine in the pan with the pre-soaked navy beans and homemade chicken broth
I'm making a big ol' gigantic batch to freeze some soup for quick meals later in the winter.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium simmer, and let simmer for 1 1/2  -2 hours till meat is cooked through (and in my case till beans are tender too.)
Here's what it looked like at 1 1/2 hours:

Remove ham hock from pan and place on cutting board. Let cool for a few minutes till you can handle it. You should see a ring of fat to trim away all the way around it. Place it on it's side and slide a knife between the meat and the outside ring of fat and start cutting away (or literally unrolling it as I did, it just came right off!)

And here's what it should look like now:

 You can now easily remove the bone. Shred or dice ham and return to soup or whatever recipe you want.

How to Cook a Ham Hock


  1. i love ham hock and this looks so yummy thank you for sharing , this is a great story

  2. yummmmmmy great recipe thanks

  3. Great recipe thanks yummm

  4. Thank you for this meal idea, you are a lifesaver. I wasn't sure how to cook it until now, muah!

    1. you are welcome! Hope it goes well if you try it!
      Best to you

    2. How much chicken broth?

    3. sorry for the delay in responding! I usually cook up a "bag" of navy beans which is about a 16 oz bag of dry beans, so once their soaked and drained, I start with 2 quarts of liquid. I usually use either all chicken broth or a combination of water and chicken broth depending on what I have on hand. I hope that helps!

  5. Thank you! I decided against a whole ham this NYE and then realized I had no idea how to cook a hock from fresh.

  6. Thank you! I decided against a whole ham this NYE and then realized I had no idea how to cook a hock from fresh.

  7. Anonymous12/05/2016

    I used a smoked ham hock in split pea soup, but the peas had totally disintegrated before I could pull off the meat... should I have started cooking the hock before the peas? Tastes great but I was a bit disappointed as the cheapest smoked hock I could find was over $25 Canadian.

    Would just a regualar hock been a better idea? They are called "Pork Hocks" up here, and I thought they would taste less like ham and more like pork.

    1. I only used smoked ham hocks for flavoring usually but not to pull meat off of, I find them too tough, so i will only use them in like a pot of green beans or something to flavor them. I prefer the regular hock, which will cook up so much easier and more tender. NOW.. those split peas... THey cook up fast. So cook up the hock and the broth first and then add in the split peas later in the process. You'll be much happier with your soup next time, I promise!!! Don't give up! You can always add a splash of "smoke" liquid if you want to the soup to make up for the regular ham hock vs. smoked hock. Best of luck!


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