How to Cook Black Eyed Peas

There's a lot to love about the good-luck bean.

January 26, 2023
Close up of some organic brown lentils

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Close up of some organic brown lentils

Photo by: mpessaris/Getty Images

mpessaris/Getty Images

By Grace Elkus for Food Network Kitchen

Grace is a contributing writer at Food Network.

The soul food staple is incredibly versatile: it can be pureed into hummus, tossed into salads, stirred into soups, fried into fritters, folded into wraps and so much more. Here are our very best tips for cooking and serving them.

Black-Eyed Peas and Rice (Hoppin' John)

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Black-Eyed Peas and Rice (Hoppin' John)

Photo by: rudisill/Getty Images

rudisill/Getty Images

What Are Black Eyed Peas?

Despite their name, black eyed peas are actually beans. A subspecies of the cowpea, black eyed peas have an earthy, slightly sweet flavor and firm texture, and pair well with greens (like collard greens), ham hocks, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Though they’re eaten worldwide, they’re commonly associated with the American South, because according to folklore they saved the south from famine.

Of course, that’s not the only piece of folklore surrounding black-eyed peas. It’s commonly believed that if eaten on New Year's Day, they'll bring you prosperity in the upcoming year. Some say it’s the swelling of the simmering peas that symbolizes prosperity, while others say the peas represent coins (and the accompanying greens represent dollars).

Overhead view of US southern dish of black-eye peas and collard greens

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Overhead view of US southern dish of black-eye peas and collard greens

Photo by: LindasPhotography/Getty Images

LindasPhotography/Getty Images

How to Cook Black Eyed Peas

Follow this step-by-step guide to cook dried black eyed peas. In a pinch, substitute canned or frozen and thawed black eyed peas.

Step 1: Sort and Rinse

Pick over the peas and remove any small stones, imperfect peas or other debris. Rinse the peas under cold water.

Step 2: Soak the Peas

Place the peas in a large pot and cover with about 4 inches of water. Soak the peas overnight. Alternatively, “quick-soak” the peas by boiling them for 2 minutes, removing from the heat, and soaking them, covered, for 1 hour.

Step 3: Drain and Rinse

Drain the water and rinse the peas.

Step 4: Simmer until Tender

Simmer the peas in stock or water until tender but not mushy, about 1 hour.

US New Year's Dish of collard greens, and black eyed peas, ain a rustic pot

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US New Year's Dish of collard greens, and black eyed peas, ain a rustic pot

Photo by: LindasPhotography/Getty Images

LindasPhotography/Getty Images

How Long to Cook Black Eyed Peas

Soaking black eyed peas not only quickens the cooking process, it also aids in digestibility. Soaked black eyed peas take about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to cook, depending on the age of the beans, how long they were soaked for and how soft you prefer them. If you’re starting with frozen black eyed peas, microwave until thawed before adding them to your dish.

Black Eyed Peas Nutrition

Black eyed peas are an excellent source of fiber and folate. They also contain 14 grams of protein per cup, versus 9 grams per cup for other types of peas.

Overhead view of black eyed peas and collard greens in brown bowl

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Overhead view of black eyed peas and collard greens in brown bowl

Photo by: LindasPhotography/Getty Images

LindasPhotography/Getty Images

Black Eyed Peas Recipes

You’re likely familiar with Hoppin' John and Cowboy Caviar, but have you ever tried slow cooking black eyed peas with smoked pork shoulder, or sautéing black eyed peas with fresh salsa? Read on for some of our favorite preparations:

Photo by: Armando Rafael ©Armando Rafael Photography

Armando Rafael, Armando Rafael Photography

Black-Eyed Pea SoupSautéing the vegges in bacon fat infuses every bite of this soup with meaty flavor — not to mention there’s a ham hock tossed in, too.

Texas Black-Eyed PeasStarting with frozen and thawed peas means this simple side dish — which receives glowing reviews — comes together in just 15 minutes.

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Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Tex-Mex Rice and Black-Eyed Peas

In this hearty meatless meal, black eyed peas are cooked in salsa until creamy and tender, then spooned over rice and topped with cheese and avocado. What’s not to love?

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Photo by: Charles Masters

Charles Masters

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Ham and Black-Eyed Peas

A simple homemade barbecue sauce provides savory-sweet flavor to this slow-cooked meal. For a pretty presentation, top with fresh thyme before serving.

Food Network Kitchen’s Red Red Beans Stew, as seen on Food Network.

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Food Network Kitchen’s Red Red Beans Stew, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

​​Red Red

This rendition of Ghanaian Red Red includes red bell pepper for sweetness. Serve with fried plantains, steamed white rice, or yams, sweet potatoes or cassava.

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