Traditional Black-Eyed Peas

Traditional Black Eyed Peas

Talk about good down-home plain cooking, I make black-eyed peas from time to time, and with New Year’s coming up (and a bag of peas I’ve been meaning to use up) now is the time~! Here’s my Traditional Black-Eyed Peas Recipe.

Traditional Black-Eyed Peas

Traditional Black-Eyed Peas


Unfortunately, I didn’t get pics the day I served my Traditional Black Eyed Peas, which is on New Year’s, for luck, so what you are seeing here is some of the leftover Black Eyed Peas; they tighten up a bit after sitting but like many slow-cooked items, taste even better. They’re actually a great recipe to make ahead if you need them for New Year’s Day Brunch. Add a little water when you reheat if you want, to loosen them right back up.

About Traditional Black Eyed Peas:

If you’ve never had Traditional Black Eyed Peas, think of a creamy, saucy, stew, cooked until the pork it’s flavored with has all but broken down. There might be a bit of onion, maybe a touch of garlic, but what you’re talking about it good, slow-cooked comfort – nothing too fancy.

And you can usually expect your Traditional Black Eyed Peas served with a condiment or two. A little hot pepper sauce, for sure, and if you’re lucky and can find the little pots of Chili Sauce (not the bottles of Heinz) that’s what you want. What you really, really want! That made me think of the Spice Girls, Wannabe! Now that’s gonna be stuck in your head! Don’t click on it, fair warning! Haha!

We used to be able to buy little pots of Chili Sauce up Nord, here. My Grandma served it a lot. I haven’t seen it in ages and the last time I saw it was in Georgia about 20 years ago. So now I make my own Garden Chili Sauce. In the winter, I’ll make a small batch, just so I can have it with my Traditional Black Eyed Peas. You can cut down the recipe if you want. And of course, my Traditional Black Eyed Peas are served with rice. And sometimes greens. I think that might be required.

Garden Chili Sauce - small batch, 4 pints

Garden Chili Sauce – small batch, 4 pints

Making Traditional Black Eyed Peas:

In the old days, Traditional Black Eyed Peas were usually cooked plainly, but these days, everyone has their own spin. If you want to spice up your version, feel free to add a little spice upfront. A little hot sauce, cayenne, pepper, or even an herb or two all go well, here. I rely on the pork to make its saucy broth as the dish cooks down, but some people add a little ham or chicken stock.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of pork is used; that’s up to you: a ham bone from Christmas is ideal, a couple of ham hocks or jowls (smoked are great), neck bones or smoked brisket bones or smoked turkey drumsticks if you don’t “do” pork. Even a bit of fatback, pork belly or bacon. Or a combination of any of those things. The important thing is to give the pork a good head start before the beans are added or your peas may be done before the pork is falling off the bone tender. I don’t brown anything unless I’m using a fatback or bacon, I generally cook it first, then add in the onion to the bacon fat when I saute it, just for a little extra flavor.

I always try to soak my beans or peas overnight rather than using a quick soak method (they really do come out better) and I like to brine my peas, a method I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated’s, and I have a post all about Brining & Soaking Beans.  There’s a video towards the bottom of the page. It really does make a difference in the final dish and the peas turn out beautifully. Thank you Cook’s for dispelling the bean and salt myth!

Dried peas can be tricky: you never know how long they’ve sat before you buy them. Sometimes you can cook and cook and cook them and they still aren’t softening. If after an hour or so, your’s are still hard, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the pot and see if that doesn’t help, and then watch the liquid level. (You might have to add more water if your peas need to cook longer.)

Saving Money on Traditional Black Eyed Peas:

There’s hardly a less expensive dish or more frugal dish to make than Traditional Black Eyed Peas, or just about any down-home dish using dried legumes. It’s a great start to the New Year’s after all the indulgences of the past few weeks (or last night).

You can read more about Black Eyed Peas, varieties, nutrition and shopping for them on my post What To Know About Black-Eyed Peas. Top hint: When buying any type of legume, try to buy from a store where there is a high turnover. Old peas can take forever to cook, and may not even soften after hours.

Of course, it goes without saying that using a ham bone leftover from the holidays is a great and very frugal way to flavor your beans. Depending on where you live the other options may not be readily available or a lot pricier, especially fatback or pork belly which has become trendy and pricey as a result. If you don’t eat pork, a smoked turkey carcass or a smoked turkey leg or smoked brisket bones give a lot of great flavor.

Happy New Year’s, everyone and here’s wishing you prosperity, good health, and good luck!

Traditional Black-Eyed Peas

Traditional Black Eyed Peas – the perfect bite! Note the Garden Chili Sauce


Traditional Black Eyed Peas

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: varies
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish Pork
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 ham bone and any available drippings, 2 ham hocks or jowls, smoked or not, or 1/4 pound fatback, pork belly or bacon
  • 810 cups water, divided
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas,  brined 8 – 24 hours *
  • salt and pepper to taste


Prepare Pork:

If using a ham bone, no preparation is necessary. If using jowls or hocks, score through the fat to the meat in two to three places. If using fatback or pork belly, cut into several smaller chunks. If using bacon, dice and saute with onions and add in the garlic during the last minute of cooking.

In a large pot, add pork, onions, garlic, bay leaves and drippings (if using) and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and simmer until pork is tender but not yet falling off the bone.

Timing will vary depending on the size and type of pork you are using. A ham bone will generally take a good hour, hocks and jowls between an hour and an hour and a half, fatback can be cut into a chunk or two and tossed into the beans as they cook. Standard bacon is cooked with the onions doesn’t need any additional time.

Add black-eyed peas, bring back to a simmer and continue cooking until tender, adding additional water if necessary. Timing may vary depending on the age of the peas, generally an hour to an hour and a half, until peas are tender (hint: test more than one) and broth is desired consistency. See note.

If using a pork item with a bone, remove, debone and add the meat back into the pot. If desired, a few of the peas may be mashed with a fork or potato masher. Taste for seasoning. Serve over rice with Chili Sauce as an accompaniment.

Note: Generally Black Eyed Peas will be a bit thinner and soupy the first day but by the second will absorb more of the broth turning into a much thicker mass. Simply add more liquid into the peas the next day to return to the desired consistency.


To brine black-eyed peas (or other legumes) soak peas with 3 tablespoons salt in four quarts of water for 8 to 24 hours. Drain and proceed with recipe. Brined beans may cook more quickly than expected.

Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, black-eyed peas, Brine, Cook's Illustrated, Dried Beans, Freezes Well, Ham, Pork.

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I’ll be taking Traditional Black-Eyed Peas to the Fiesta Friday 100 anniversary extravaganza, and I’m also co-hosting this event, so a big shout out to Angie from the Novice Gardener and Fiesta Friday for putting the event on and Steffi from Ginger&Bread, Suzanne fromAPugintheKitchen and Judi fromCookingwithAuntJuju for co-hosting, too. Stop by, say hi, visit and mingle and I hope to “see” you there!

Of course, I’ll also be posting my Traditional Black-Eyed Peas to Throwback Thursday, a link party co-hosted by Moi!! Yes, that’s me, yours truly! And Alli, Quinn & Meaghan – you’ll see all their links on Throwback Thursday!


Traditional Black Eyed Peas are not just lucky, they're a great frugal start to the New Year and a perfect use for that ham bone! Can also be made with Pork Hocks, Fatback or Smoked Turkey Super easy down-home meal. #BlackEyedPeas #TraditionalBlackEyedPeas

12 thoughts on “Traditional Black Eyed Peas

    • Ginger, it made such a big difference – and I don’t know how old my black eyed peas were, but they’d been in the cupboard at least a year, yet every single one was perfect, soft all the way through yet didn’t fall apart. I’m a convert!

    • Thanks, Judi, and you can eat it as a side, but it also has enough protein between the rice/peas combination that it’s usually served as a main dish. It just depends – when I first had it in the South, Black eyed peas were just part of a big buffet. And served with Chili Sauce!

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