Savory Navy Beans with a Touch of Heat

Savory Navy beans cooked with vegetables, herbs and a touch of spice. #beans #navy @mjskitchen

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When it comes to white beans, navy beans are our favorite.  In comparison to the Great Northern and Cannellini, navy beans cook faster, have a creamier texture (IMO), and work with a lot of different flavors. Navy beans are normally used in baked beans, but for this recipe, I went for a more savory navy bean with hint of heat.

Dried navy beans cook up very nicely in 30 – 45 minutes.  Normally, I pressure cook dried beans, but navy beans do explode very easily; therefore, I prefer to cook them, covered on the stove top.  This is a one pot meal that calls for standard aromatics, herbs and a small amount of hot chile powder. A few toppings are added to provided crunch, a little more heat if you choose, and some smokiness (bacon, bacon, bacon). The depth of flavors going on here is as deep as the bowls I use to serve.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, this recipe can easily be altered to accommodate your diet. You can eliminate or substitute the meat products for a delightful vegetarian or vegan option. Be sure to check out the Kitchen Notes to see what changes you need to make.

Savory Navy Beans

Savory Navy beans cooked with vegetables, herbs and a touch of spice. #beans #navy @mjskitchen

Navy beans cooked with vegetables, herbs and a toiuch of spice. #beans #navy @mjskitchen
Print or Save Recipe
Savory Navy Beans Recipe
15 mins
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
A tasty bowl of beans that can be served as a main dish for 4 or side for 6.

After a 4 hour brine, these beans require a short prep and cook on the stovetop.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Dry Beans, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southwestern
Yields: 6 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 2 cups dried navy beans
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • Water
Bean Ingredients
  • 4 pieces of bacon*
  • 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings*
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • ½ large bell pepper any color, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock*
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ - 1 tsp. hot red chile powder* (chile with an "e")
Toppings (Choose 2 or 3)*
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Thinly sliced savoy cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Thinly sliced or minced jalapeno
  • Red chile sauce
  • Sriracha
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp. salt in about 6 cups water. Add the beans and let brine for 4 hours. After 4 hours, drain and rinse.
  2. During the last 30 minutes of the brine, cook the bacon and chop the vegetables.
  3. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Hide in the cupboard so that it won't get eaten before the beans are done.
  4. Pour out all but 2 Tbsp. of the bacon drippings.
  5. Over medium heat, saute’ the onion, celery, and bell pepper in the bacon drippings for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.

  6. Add the stock, drained and rinsed beans, herbs, pepper and chile powder.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes, stirring twice.
  8. After 30 minutes, check for doneness. If not done, cook covered, another 10 minutes and test again. Continue cooking until done. It usually takes about 40 - 45 minutes.
  9. Once the beans are done, scoop into serving bowls, top with shredded cabbage and crumbled bacon, fresh herbs and a little hot sauce, whichever toppings you desire.*
Kitchen Notes

Bacon drippings – If you don’t want to use bacon drippings, then substitute with mild flavored cooking oil like olive oil, avocado, or canola.


Hot chile powder – The hot chile powder that is added during the cooking of the beans provides a spicy after bite.  It’s interesting how just a small amount of powder allows you to taste the herbs and other ingredients before it creeps up on you as a finisher.  So if you want to experience this cascading of flavors, don’t go overboard on the chile powder.  If you’re using “hot”, keep it to 1/4 teaspoon.  If you are using “extra hot” (like habanero or ghost or viper), then reduce to 1/8 teaspoon.  I normally use urfa biber or cayenne.


Toppings – Our favorite toppings are the cabbage, bacon and minced jalapeno. If I don’t have jalapeno, we’ll add a dollop of red chile sauce.  I thought a little Sriracha worked, but Bobby thought it overpowered the flavor of the beans.  If you don’t want spicy at all, these beans are just as delicious without it.  Bacon and cabbage is really all you need.


Vegetarian/Vegan Version – Eliminate the bacon and bacon drippings.  Use a cooking oil instead of the drippings.  Replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth and it’s totally vegan.



Savory Navy beans cooked with vegetables, herbs and a touch of spice. #beans #navy @mjskitchen


For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know how much we love beans and this has been a fantastic recipe to add to our bean collection.  Just like chile, different beans have a totally different flavor.  That are a GREAT source of protein and perfect for those meatless meals that we all need to have on a weekly basis.  Therefore, once you try these savory navy beans, be sure to check out my other bean recipes.

Pinto Beans

Bolita Beans

Black Beans

Red Beans and Rice with Tasso

Beans and Rice with Sausage

Beans, Bacon, and Chipotle


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56 Responses to “Savory Navy Beans with a Touch of Heat”

  1. Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina April 3, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    I love beans in so many ways, but any time there is added heat and spice, then they are all that much better! Great meatless recipe too, MJ! I hope that you had a beautiful Easter!

    • mj April 4, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

      thanks so much Roz! WE did have a nice Easter. Hope you did as well!

  2. Viviane Bauquet Farre February 22, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    LOVE the creaminess of navy beans! What a great, hearty bowl of goodness this is 🙂

    • mj February 23, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

      They are quite creamy aren’t they. Thanks Viviane!

  3. Amy (Savory Moments) February 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    I really enjoy navy beans too and these ones look extra tasty!

    • mj February 23, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

      Thanks Amy!

  4. Summer February 19, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    This looks lovely! Nice recipe ♥

    • mj February 23, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

      Thanks so much Summer!

  5. Anna @ shenANNAgans February 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    I have one of those days where you just want to put your pj’s on and eat comfort food, this delightful bean recipe might be my perfect comfort food. Would it be weird to add an egg? Looks yummy!

    • mj February 23, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

      No…it wouldn’t be weird to put on egg on top at all! Sounds quite good actually. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons February 18, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Hi MJ! You know, when I think of using white beans in a recipe, I never think of Navy beans. I don’t know why. But I’m looking forward to trying them now. This recipe looks great….love all the spice and flavor….especially the bacon! : )

    • mj February 18, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

      Hey Stranger! How the heck are you? Thanks so much for your comments! Oh you really should try navy beans. They are so tender and tasty.

  7. Carol at Wild Goose Mama February 17, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    Oooooh I love this bean recipe! Beans have been on my mind of late. I even
    bought some navy beans specifically. I found a chunk of bacon lurking in my
    freezer last night. Lovely!!!!

    • mj February 18, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Carol! Well, if you just bought some navy beans, then it was meat to be. 🙂

  8. Sissi February 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    Sorry, I’ve forgotten to say I love your bowl (I might have already said that because it feels like a déjà vu…).

    • mj February 16, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! It’s funny because I’ve had that bowl in my photo stash for at least 4 years and have never used it. This was the first time, but it won’t be the last. 🙂

  9. Sissi February 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Your bowl of beans looks so delicious, I feel like making a huge batch and eating it every day topped with grilled bacon! (Beans and smoked meat are a perfect combination, but what about a nice poached or fried egg on top?). I love the cabbage addition: somehow it makes the whole dish look lighter and I’m sure it adds an additional dimension. I must do it one day too. It is really a touch of genius!

    • mj February 16, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! I add shredded cabbage to a lot of soups and stews because it does add a different dimesion / texture. Oh, I like the idea of the egg on top! It’s such a great topping for so many things!

  10. Easyfoodsmith February 16, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Any kind of beans are in favor in my house. Navy beans are new to me but I am sure we will love these too. Its always exciting visiting your blog and learning something new 😀

    • mj February 16, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

      What always amazes me is how different beans tests. I love so many of them that it’s hard to choose which bean to cook each week. 🙂 Thanks Darlin!

  11. Eszter @ Hungarian recipes February 16, 2016 at 6:32 am #

    My favorite part is the bacon and bacon drippings. I love it. Thank you for sharing the recipe of this soul warming dish.

    • mj February 16, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

      Bacon usually is the best part of any dish, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks Eszter!

  12. Gourmet Getaways February 14, 2016 at 2:46 am #

    I love beans!
    So wholesome and filling! This is a delicious looking dish 🙂
    I’m yumming 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Gourmet Getaways

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:55 am #

      Thanks so much Julie!

  13. Debra February 13, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    Love the cabbage as a garnish on top.

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:54 am #

      Raw cabbage makes a great garnish for a lot of things. It’s about the only way Bobby will eat cabbage. 🙂

  14. Nami | Just One Cookbook February 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    So happy to learn about navy beans – I don’t think I’ve tried this kind of white beans before. I finally have a pressure cooker and there’s “bean” option that I haven’t used. Good to test out and try your recipe (plus I can take more spice these days!). 😉

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:53 am #

      A pressure cooker with an option? WOW! I’m a few years behind pressure cooker technology. 🙂 Let me know if it works because in a couple of years I might just break down and replacing my 40+ year old one. Thanks Nami!

  15. Tamara February 12, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    A little New Mexico red chile makes everything taste better! I know I can count on you to keep the wonderful chile recipes coming. Oh how I miss New Mexico! Great recipe MJ!

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      You are so right Tamara! It’s hard to find a better replacement.

  16. Hotly Spiced February 11, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Your blue bowl is very pretty. I love navy beans. What a wonderful, warming and comforting meal. I think the beans and the bacon work wonderfully together xx

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks Charlie! I’ve had the blue bowl for about 3 years now and this is the first time I’ve used it. Go figure. 🙂 Yes, beans and bacon…YUM!

  17. Raymund February 11, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    Definitely if I am looking for a recipe with some heat on this your blog will be the most reliable. Another stunning recipe!

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:50 am #

      Thank you so much Raymund! Yes, my recipes do carry some heat. 🙂

  18. Ramona W February 11, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    Beans with a touch of heat… you are speaking my language. 🙂 Looks like a bowl of comfort food. 🙂

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      thanks Ramona!

  19. Abbe @ This is How I Cook February 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    Navy beans are my favorite, too. Navy beans with bacon are my extra favorite! Yum!

    • mj February 14, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Hey…what’s not good with bacon? 🙂 Thanks Abbe!

  20. wok with ray February 10, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    i like beans being part of healthy diet because of high fiber contents. And of course the bacon with the protein that we all need. It is getting warmer here but for our family, it doesn’t matter because we consume soup regardless. I hope you are having a wonderful week, MJ. 🙂

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks so much Ray! We usually only eat hot soup in the winter, but we both love a good bowl of beans year round.

  21. Katerina February 10, 2016 at 2:26 am #

    I loved beans ever since I was a child and so does my son! I cook them a lot with red sauce as a thick soup or I use them in a salad. I love your dish and I can easily take out the hot ingredients and enjoy it! Pinned!

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

      So easy to leave out the hot ingredients. Bobby said that this recipe really didn’t need it, but since we both like heat, it was nice. A bean soup with red sauce – now that sounds interesting. I love how different cultures treat the same ingredient so differently. 🙂

  22. Chgojohn February 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    I’m with you, MJ. I love beans this time of year. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation that accompanies a pot of beans softly simmering on the stove on a cold winter’s day, especially when bacon is involved. I’m salivating just thinking of it! 🙂

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

      Very well said John! Thanks!

  23. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen February 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    I love beans! Specially creamy ones like this.

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

      Thanks Peachy!

  24. John/Kitchen Riffs February 9, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    We’re mad about beans too! Love them, particularly at this time of the year. This is a brilliant recipe — so much flavor, and pretty fast to make. Perfect! Thanks so much.

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks so much John!

  25. Evelyne Cultureatz February 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    I do love my beans but I rarely cooking them from scratch. I should. Will try Navy Beans soon with your recommendation…and more bacon for sure for me ha ha.

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

      Oh Evelyn, there is a huge difference between canned and dried.Once you eat your first bean from scratch, you’ll never buy a can of beans again. Oh yes, You can never have enough bacon. 🙂

  26. A_Boleyn February 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    Everyone should learn to make a good bean dish and this one sounds tasty. I like cannellini beans best for creamy texture but they’re pretty pricey in my area. I used the last of the ones my dad planted before he passed away recently so it’s going to be navy and Great Northerns again. I think it’s time for a nice bean soup. 🙂

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

      Thanks so much Ann! I love beans so much that’s it’s always time for a nice pot of beans. 🙂

  27. Deb|EastofEdenCooking February 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m going to try your recommendation and try Navy beans. I usually cook Cannellini. We’ve been having a week of very warm days, but soon it will return to gray winter days. This will be the time to try your very comforting recipe.

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

      I don’t think you’ll regret it Deb, at least I hope you don’t. 🙂 Thanks!

  28. Angie@Angie's Recipes February 9, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    I love all sorts of beans and lentils..this looks super duper comforting!

    • mj February 10, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

      Thank you Angie!

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