Cherokee Bean Balls (download printable PDF)

This dish is a Native American staple.


1/2 cup dried pinto beans1/2 cup dried pinto beans

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda


pinch salt


measuring cup
measuring spoons
potato masher
mixing bowl
wooden spoon
large cookpot
slotted spoon
serving plate

Sort through the beans and discard any stones or bad beans. Rinse off the beans in a colander. Place the beans in a cookpot and cover with water. Let the beans soak overnight. Drain the beans in the colander. Bring fresh water to boil in the cookpot on the stove over high heat. Add the beans and lower the heat to medium low. Simmer the beans 1 hour or until they are tender. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid. While the beans are cooking, place the cornmeal, flour, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and mix well. When the beans are done, mash them in the cookpot with the masher. Mix 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid with the mashed beans. Stir in the cornmeal mixture, a pinch of salt, and add enough of the cooking liquid to form a stiff batter. Roll the batter into small balls. The dish can be prepared up to this point in advance. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in the large cookpot on the stove over high heat. Using the slotted spoon, lower the bean balls into the boiling water and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the bean balls uncovered for 30 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, remove the bean balls from the water and place them on the serving plate. Serve hot or cold.