bourbon ham shank cranberry beans

~bourbon ham shank cranberry beans~

Soup Beans

I haven’t met a bean I don’t love! These cranberry beans exceptionally fabulous! Thick and creamy, the ham shank packs powerful flavoring and nutrients.

But, there are some soup beans that I like, no love, more than others, and one happens to be this cranberry bean, which in Italian is known as the borlotti. But, rather than using that fancy word, I love the cranberry. The rosy hue of the cranberry bean kind of makes sense that it’s called a cranberry bean. 

Now that name comes from the fact that these beans are a pink or red and as they cook they turn brown. Mild in flavor, they’re in no way connected to a cranberry, and they are somewhat like the pinto, a FAVE, in taste and size!

Type of Bean

The type of bean you choose does make a difference. Depending upon the type of bean will determine the cooking time. For instance, lentils cook much more quickly than a navy bean or great northern bean. 

While there are about 40,000 bean varieties, just a few a actually mass produced for cooking and consumption. 

The most popular types of beans for cooking, and I’ve cooked them all, are lima beans, navy beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, chickpeas or garbanzo bans, fava beans, cannellini beans and pinto beans. 

Dried Bean Recipes

Growing up in the coalfields of West Virginia, we ate a lot of beans. That means I have bean recipes. You might want to check some of these!

Old-Fashioned Stove Top BBQ Pork and Beans

Kung Pao Kidney Beans

Smoked Anasazi Beans and Fresh Herbs

Pork Taco Red Beans

Coal Miner Pinto Beans

Ham Soup Beans

In my humble opinion, the best way to season beans is with ham. Yes, ham soup beans are fabulous. And, when I say ham I mean ham hocks or ham shanks. And, if you can’t find hocks or shanks, then get thick cut bacon. All of these are pork and pork has fat. And, fat means flavor. The ham soup beans cook slowly and the ham shank oozes into the beans and ‘gravy’. The best thing about ham soup beans is that you pull the ham shank out after the beans are done and just shred the ham from the shank and throw this flavoring back into the ham soup beans. 

Cranberry Bean

Perfect for chilis or as soups, the cranberry bean is full of protein and fiber as well as other kinds of minerals and vitamins! You can’t go wrong eating these beans. And, with the flavoring of the ham shank and then the tender chunks of ham that fall off that bone during the cooking, you’ll feel like a bowl of these critters are a full meal!  

Want a really fabulous slaw, something new and different, to serve with these beans. The click here!

cranberry beans recipe

~bourbon ham shank cranberry beans~

bourbon ham shank cranberry beans

Yield: At least 8 folks!

haven't met a bean I don't love! These cranberry beans exceptionnally fabulous! Thick and creamy, the ham shank packs powerful flavoring and nutrients.


  • 2 Tbl. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbl. Chopped garlic
  • 1 pound dried cranberry beans (washed and drained)
  • 1 ham shank piece (bone-in)
  • ½ cup bourbon (can substitute concentrated apple juice)
  • 32 ounces chicken broth (divided)
  • 3-5 cups water (as needed as beans are cooking)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes, you can always add more heat if you want more spice!
  • Green Onions, garnish


In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, add the oil and let it get hot. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 3 minutes in the hot oil. Add beans and cook about 5 minutes in the hot oil/shallots/garlic then add in the ham shank and cook another 5 minutes stirring so the beans don’t burn. Add the bourbon and let it sizzle about 3-5 minutes.

Add 2 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of water, salt, pepper and chili flakes and blend. Cover with a lid and let this come to a boil cooking about 30 minutes, then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 1.5 hours more broth and/water as needed. Stir occasionally.

Reduce heat to low and let the beans just simmer for another hour or more until tender. Total cooking time will be around 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours.

Your ham shank should fall off the bone and you can shred it into chunks into the beans. I like to keep the bare bone in the beans as it continues cooking—good marrow just might seep into the broth! The broth will thicken as it cooks, and you can adjust this thickness by adding more water and/or chicken broth. When serving garnish with green onions for a beautiful pop of color and more flavor!

Your sharing is GOLDEN! Thank you!

Your sharing and comments help me stay in business! Share a photo if you make the recipe #allyskitchen Thank you! xo Ally

cranberry beans recipe

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  1. This recipe is GREAT except for one thing. I don’t know if I simply have some extra potent red chili flakes or what, but it was VERY spicy. I didn’t even add the salt and I’m glad I didn’t. It would have been too much. My adult son, who is a HUGE fan of all things hot & spicy, will love this. I will indeed make it again, but next time, will go very light on the red chili flakes.

    1. Lisa! Thank you, and very good to know! I just made an edit on the 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes. Yes, we are hot and spicy here. I’m so so glad you loved the beans. They’re perfect for so many things, nachos, chilis and more. Plus, you can freeze any that are leftover. Let me know how your son likes them! And, thank you, again, for hanging w/me in Ally’s Kitchen! xo ~ally

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lima beans?

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