This traditional Southern Black Eyed Peas recipe is the perfect way to kick off the New Year or make for Sunday Supper! Made with smoky meat and a handful of spices, these hearty beans in a thick sauce are warm, comforting and packed with flavor. For a Classic New Year’s Day meal, serve these or this Hoppin John , Chittlins, and pair these black eyed peas with Skillet Cornbread , Seafood Gumbo and Collard Greens.
Perfect Southern Black Eyed Peas Recipe!
On any given New Years Day, you can find folks throughout the South stirring up large pots of Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens. My home is no exception to that.
I grew up eating these peas for good luck every New Year’s Eve. Regardless of whether or not it worked, the peas were delicious and I looked forward to them. Each bite was tastier than the one before it and I always went back for seconds.
Now that I’m all grown up, I keep the tradition alive and this year I’m inviting you to partake in it with me! Who couldn’t use a little more good luck next year?
What Are Black Eyed Peas??
Black Eyed Peas are a Southern hearty, warm and soulful dish that is packed with rich flavor. Made with layered spices, smokey meat and earthy okra, these peas make for the perfect welcoming meal for the New Year.
History of Black Eyed Peas Recipe
If you’re new to this Southern tradition then you might be curious about where and how it began. Eating Black Eyed Peas on New Years Eve has been considered good luck for over 1,500 years! It was originally a Jewish custom made to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. The recipe was brought to Georgia in the 1730’s with the arrival of Sephardic Jews.
Shortly after the Civil War, the tradition began to spread across the South as a symbol of the emancipation of African-American slaves that took place on New Year’s Day in 1863. From then on previously enslaved families adopted the tradition as both a celebration and remembrance.
Today, not many folks know the history of this significant recipe but their symbolic presence of good fortune is never forgotten.
How To Make Black Eyed Peas
There is no one way to make Black Eyed Peas; everyone has their methods and each one is equally delicious. My version is consistent with the peas I grew up eating but I’ve had plenty of varieties in my lifetime. If this is your first go around with Black Eyed Peas, let me help you out.
Don’t Use Canned Beans
I know, it’s tempting to take the shortcut. But trust me, it’s much more worthwhile to soak dried beans. By doing so you avoid the extra sodium and prevent your beans from falling apart during the slow cooking process.
Adjust Cooking Time for Turkey Wings
If you prefer the flavor of smoked turkey, which I absolutely support, make sure to adjust the cooking time. Ham hocks take longer to cook and we don’t want to cook our peas longer than necessary.
Add Extra Spice
Southerners love a little bit of that kick! My recipe calls for a bit of cayenne, optional of course, but if you wanna take it up a notch I’m here for it. Add in some sliced jalapeno peppers to your mixture! A little extra heat never killed anybody, I think?
What To Serve with Black Eyed Peas
Generally, Black Eyed Peas are served with Collard Greens and eaten in almost a stew-like manner. But of course, there are a couple other ways you can serve your peas.
Make some cornbread! There’s nothing like dipping warm, buttered cornbread into a bowl of Black Eyed Peas. Soak up those flavorful juices and enjoy!
Prefer rice and beans? Whip up some white rice and spoon your peas directly over it. The rice will soak up your broth for maximum flavor in every bite.
Black Eyed Peas Recipe
- 1.5 lb ham hocks
- 16 oz black eyed peas (see substitute for frozen black eyed peas in notes)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar plus 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper Optional
- 6 oz frozen okra You can go up to an entire 12 oz package of okra if you enjoy it.
- Rinse the ham hocks (or turkey wings) very well then add to a large pot along with enough water to fully submerge them then cover with a lid. This is usually about 6-8 cups of water depending on your pot size.
- Boil over medium high heat for at least 1 hr or until meat is near being tender Pierce with a fork to check tenderness. This can take up to an hour and a half. Add more water if necessary so it doesn’t dry out. There should be enough water to always cover the meat.
- Add rinsed or frozen black eyed peas to pot along with salt, garlic powder, sugar, paprika, onion powder and cayenne if using. Stir together, cover with the lid and allow the peas to come to a boil over medium high heat.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and checking as water begins to evaporate and peas become tender. This will take about an hour to an hour and a half. If peas begin to look dry, add a cup of water (or chicken broth) and check bottom of pot to make sure they don’t stick. You will want the peas to be softened.
- Finally, if using, add frozen okra and allow to cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until tender and softened.
- At this point, you will need to check the peas and liquid to make sure you have it how you prefer. If you like it more brothy with more liquid, add additional broth or water and stir. Add until you reach the consistency you like. If you like your peas thickened more than they currently are, you can either use an immersion blender to blend a few peas in the pot or you can remove a cup of peas along with some broth and add to a heavy duty blender and mix until smooth then stir back into the pot. Remember the peas will continue to thicken in sauce after heat is turned off and they settle so you may want to check first before doing to step.