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This easy Black Eyed Peas recipe simmers with bacon, garlic, onion and herbs for a savory, smoky dish that’s full of flavor. Serve the black eyed peas with cornbread for a cozy, budget-friendly lunch or dinner, or offer them as a side dish on your lucky New Year’s table!

Two bowls of Southern black eyed peas recipe topped with bacon

Southern Black Eyed Peas Recipe

Black-eyed peas (or black-eyed beans) are medium-size legumes that have been cultivated in the Southern United States since the 17th century. The peas are often cooked with a pork product (like bacon, fatback, or ham bones) and onion for flavor, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar for even more kick. My grandfather always ate his bowl of black eyed peas with both Texas Pete hot sauce and a splash of vinegar!

This particular black-eyed peas recipe isn’t spicy, but it’s smoky, savory and has a touch of Cajun seasoning. I add a dash of vinegar at the end for a bright tang (just like my grandfather), resulting in a rich, complex dish that’s satisfying enough to serve as a lunch or dinner entrée. More often, we enjoy the tender black-eyed peas on our New Year’s day table for good luck in the year ahead.

Why do Southerners eat Black Eyed Peas?

Every single year of my entire life, my mom has prepared a “lucky” Southern dinner on New Year’s Day — just like her father’s Southern family raised her to do. Black eyed peas (or Hoppin John) are always on the menu, because black-eyed peas swell when they cook — representing prosperity in the New Year. Other tradition says that the black eyed peas symbolize pennies or coins, and wealth for the year ahead. A complete lucky Southern New Year’s meal includes:

  • Pork (Ham): representing positive motion, since pigs root forward when foraging;
  • Greens: symbolize money, often include collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, turnip greens or spinach;
  • Cornbread: represents gold;
  • Black-Eyed Peas (or Hoppin John): for prosperity in the year ahead.
Ladling black eyed peas from a Dutch oven

How to Cook Black Eyed Peas

My mom always soaks her dried black-eyed peas overnight, but I’ve found that it works just as well to bring the peas to a boil for about 2 minutes, soak them for 1 hour, and then cook them for 30-40 minutes. You will adjust the amount of water in your pot to keep the peas moist, but not too soupy. I prefer a thicker pot of beans at the end!

Ingredients

Bowl of dried black eyed peas

Step 1: Boil and Soak

Place the peas in a Dutch oven. Add chicken broth and additional water to cover the peas by about an inch. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, cover, and soak for 1 hour.

Process shot showing how to make black eyed peas

Step 2: Cook Bacon

In a large cast iron skillet, cook bacon until nice and crispy. Leave the rendered fat in the pan, and remove the bacon to a plate.

Crispy chopped bacon draining on a plate

Step 3: Cook Onion and Garlic

Sauté the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings.

Sauteed onion in a cast iron skillet

Step 4: Cook Black-Eyed Peas

Add the onion, garlic and bacon drippings to the pot with the peas and broth. Pour in an additional 1 cup of water, as well as bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) until the peas are tender — about 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally, and add more water, as necessary, to keep the peas moist in the pot. The peas will absorb most of the liquid by the time they’re done cooking.

Process shot showing how to cook black eyed peas

Step 5: Season

Once the peas are tender, remove the pot from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and stir in the vinegar and Creole seasoning. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with the crispy bacon and fresh herbs or sliced green onion, then serve!

Horizontal shot of black eyed peas with bacon in a blue and white pot

Serving Suggestions: What Goes with Black Eyed Peas

If offering the black-eyed peas as an entrée for lunch or dinner, pair them with a skillet of cornbread or corn muffins and a simple side salad tossed with buttermilk dressing or pepper jelly vinaigrette, collard greens or sauteed spinach.

As a side dish, the black eyed peas will go well with any of these main courses:

Overhead shot of two bowls of New Years black eyed peas on a table with cornbread

Storage

Cooked, leftover black-eyed peas will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, place peas in a saucepan with a splash of extra broth or water to loosen, cover, and warm over low heat. Alternatively, you can reheat individual servings in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until heated through.

Tips for the Best Black Eyed Peas Recipe

  • Keep an eye on your pot as the peas simmer, adding more water, as necessary, to keep the pot moist.
  • For a spicier pot of beans, add crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, extra Creole seasoning, or plenty of hot sauce on the side.
  • For a thicker, creamier consistency, use the back of a spoon to smash some of the cooked peas against the inside of the pot. Stir them into the mixture. Alternatively, puree about 1 cup of the cooked peas with a splash of warm water or broth in a blender or food processor until smooth, then stir the puree back into the pot of peas.
Front shot of an easy black eyed peas recipe served in small bowls and topped with bacon

More Black Eyed Peas Recipes to Try

Two bowls of Southern black eyed peas recipe topped with bacon

Black Eyed Peas with Bacon

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Soaking Time 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 7 cups
Calories 369 kcal
Serve these easy black eyed peas as a budget-friendly main course with a side of cornbread, or offer them as a side dish on your lucky New Year's table!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Water
  • 8 oz. bacon, diced
  • 1 cup finely-diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely-minced or pressed
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or about 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Creole (or Cajun) seasoning
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, sliced green onions, chives or additional thyme

Instructions

  • Rinse and sort black-eyed peas. Place peas in a Dutch oven. Add chicken broth and (if necessary) enough water to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let the peas soak for 1 hour. Do not drain.
  • In a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy skillet), cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving rendered fat in pan. Add onion to the drippings and cook over medium-high heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
  • Transfer onion, garlic and drippings to the Dutch oven with the black-eyed peas and broth. Stir in bay leaves, thyme, and 1 additional cup of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer (covered) until the peas are tender – about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add extra water to the pot, as necessary, to keep the peas moist (but not too soupy). By the end of the cooking time, the peas will have absorbed most of the liquid in the pot. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves, stir in vinegar and Creole seasoning. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Garnish with crispy bacon and fresh herbs or sliced green onions. Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Notes

  • Keep an eye on your pot as the peas simmer, adding more water, as necessary, to keep the pot moist.
  • For a spicier pot of beans, add crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, extra Creole seasoning, or plenty of hot sauce on the side.
  • For a thicker, creamier consistency, use the back of a spoon to smash some of the cooked peas against the inside of the pot. Stir them into the mixture. Alternatively, puree about 1 cup of the cooked peas with warm water or broth in a blender or food processor until smooth, then stir the puree back into the pot of peas.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 369kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 20gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 717mgPotassium: 926mgFiber: 7gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 44IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 6mg
Keyword: black eyed peas recipe, black eyed peas with bacon
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Being a child of a southern woman I grew up eating a traditional southern new year’s dinner. Unfortunately my mother didn’t pass on those family recipes and I have searched for the perfect black eyed peas recipe ever since. Finally, a recipe that brings me back to my childhood. Very simple to make and absolutely delicious! The flavors are spot on. Thank you

    1. Yay! That’s so good to hear, Denise! We had them for dinner last night too, and they definitely remind me of my childhood as well. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  2. 5 stars
    Made these for News Year’s Day and they were really tasty! I kept most of the bacon with the peas as I thought that would add a lot to the flavor. Also cooked them about 45 minutes longer just because I prefer that type of texture (a little more broken down). Served with your Southern Collards (of course!). Thanks for an easy and yummy recipe to start off the New Year!

  3. 5 stars
    Happy New Year! Made this version today since I couldn’t get a properly sized ham for my regular recipe. Very tasty. I used fresh black eyed peas and that seems to require less liquid (makes sense) than this recipe calls for, but we strained it a bit and it was super tasty. Definitely recommend a bit of yellow bird habeñero sauce if you like a kick.

    1. Thanks, Katie! I’m glad that you were able to make it work with the ingredients that you had on hand. Happy New Year! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I picked up cantaloupe, cucumbers, zucchini, and okra at the farmers market and was inspired to make a southern dinner my grandmother would have been proud of. I had to purchase blackened peas at the store and bought frozen. I followed your recipe, just adjusted the cooking time to 80 minutes for a softer texture. The balance of seasoning and the richness of the broth is perfect. I fried the okra in a cornmeal and flour mixture. I also prepared Mexican cornbread muffins and sliced cucumbers with Greek yogurt with chives. The delicious cantaloupe was dessert. Yummy! Thank you for posting the recipe. I will make again.

    1. YUM! Sounds like an amazing meal, Carmen. So many of my favorites included — like the fried okra and cornbread muffins. Love it!