Time honored recipe for traditional black eyed peas! For Luck!!

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~!

Traditional Black Eyed Peas
Traditional Black Eyed Peas

Usually Black Eyed Peas are flavored with a touch of pork, maybe a bit of garlic and onion, then served with a spicy condiment or two: Chili Sauce (try my home-made) or a hot pepper sauce of your choice. You can add spice up front: a little hot sauce, cayenne, pepper, or an herb or two all go well, here. I don’t cook these with broth, either, relying on the pork to make its own as it cooks down.

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), a bit of fat back or bacon or a combination. 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. Browning is optional, but if I’m using 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 this time I went one step further and tried Cook’s Illustrated’s method of brining the peas. I’m going to start adopting this for other recipes – the peas turned 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 you cook longer.)

So Happy New Year’s all and enjoy this classic, frugal recipe!

Traditional Black Eyed Peas - the perfect bite!
Traditional Black Eyed Peas – the perfect bite!

Black Eyed Peas

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 1 ham bone and any available drippings, 2 ham hocks or jowls, smoked or not, or 1/4 pound fat back or bacon.
  • 8 – 10 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 bacon, 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 a hour and a half, fat back and bacon less time. Standard bacon can simmer for as little as 20 minutes or so.

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 boned pork item, 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.

From the kitchen of


I’ll be taking these 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 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!


12 Comments on “Traditional Black Eyed Peas

  1. Thanks for introducing me to brining! I had never heard of this before – thanks also for the accompanying video! 🙂

    • 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!

    • Who knew, right~ I love America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated. Sometimes a bit fussy, but then I can be, too…and they come up with some of the darndest ideas!

  2. What a healthy side dish Mollie and the info on brining. You can brine just about anything and make it taste better. Thanks for bringing your peas to Fiesta Friday.

    • 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!

  3. This is certainly the season for beans. Yours look delicious and thanks for the useful tips on brining.

    • Thanks Hilda – I was amazed – but that is one of the things I love about cooking + internet – something new to be learned all the time, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks!

      • So true. I watched a video on it right after reading your post from America’s Test Kitchen and I will never cook beans without brining again. Very interesting.

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