Here’s how to make perfect black eyed peas from fresh or frozen, Southern style, just like Grandma (or Cracker Barrel) would serve.
Black Eyed Peas are a Southern Tradition
Whether you eat black eyed peas once a year (New Year’s Day is the tradition) or often, knowing how to make them perfect~every time~is super helpful. We Southerners tend to eat these peas throughout the year, especially when serving turnip greens and cornbread. I make these often, and I’ve never had them fail~not once!
Fresh or Frozen Black Eyed Peas Work Best
Just before New Year’s Day, you’ll see shelves piled high with dry black eyed peas for pennies on the dollar. I’ve made many batches of black eyed peas from dried, but I never feel that they turn out the best. I prefer fresh or frozen. The texture just turns out better for me. Dried peas require soaking, which is an unnecessary “to do” unless you just like using dried.
First Make the Seasoning for Black Eyed Peas
The seasoning mix that I use to make my black eyed peas taste great includes chopped onion, bacon (and bacon fat), beef broth, and some seasonings. The first step is making the seasoning, typically in the same pan you will use to simmer the peas (see my saucepan in the photo). If you have an Instant Pot, you can use it also.
Next Cook Peas Until Tender
Whether you use this method of a stovetop saucepan or an Instant Pot, the key is to keep cooking until peas are desired tenderness. Also, make sure to keep adding liquid (broth or water) to the peas as they cook, or they will dry out. The broth/liquid is what breaks them down and makes them tender and flavorful.
How to Make These Black Eyed Peas in An Instant Pot
You can follow this recipe as written (using the same ingredients) except instead of cooking the peas in a saucepan, you can use an Instant Pot. The main things you adjust are liquid (broth and water) and time. I explain how to adapt this recipe to an Instant Pot in the video below.
Make Peas Ahead of Time
Peas are the perfect make ahead side dish, especially since they taste as good or better a day or two after cooking. To serve them, you simply reheat them on the stovetop.
Follow the recipe below for perfect peas every time. My favorite ways to serve black eyed peas are alongside Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs, Best Ever Mac & Cheese, and Jalapeño Pimento Cheese Cornbread.
I’d love to hear from you if you try these! (and I try to reply quickly to everyone who posts a comment!)
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- 1-1/2 lbs fresh or frozen black eye peas
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3-4 strips bacon, diced into pieces
- 1 TB EVOO or canola oil
- 2 TB sugar
- 1 tsp beef flavored Better Than Bouillon (or 1 beef bouillon cube)
- 1 -2 cans chicken broth or bone broth (lower sodium is best)
- On medium heat, saute chopped bacon in hot oil.
- When bacon is mostly cooked, add chopped onion.
- Saute onion until soft; add garlic for last minute of sauté.
- Add garlic powder, sugar, salt & pepper; stir well.
- Add beef stock and crumbled bouillon cube; bring to rolling boil.
- Add peas to pot; add broth to go 1" above peas. Add water if more liquid needed.
- Bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce to simmer; cook for 2 hours or until peas are tender, adding more broth or water as needed.
Amount Per Serving Calories 207Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 5mgSodium 443mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 8gSugar 8gProtein 12g