Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Soak Time: 12 hrs
Total: 13 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
527 Calories
18g Fat
63g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 527
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 1369mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 63g 23%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 50mg 252%
Calcium 110mg 8%
Iron 7mg 40%
Potassium 1152mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These Southern black-eyed peas are a traditional New Year's Day dish, also known as Hoppin' John. Black-eyed peas, along with greens and cornbread, are eaten on New Year's Day for good luck and prosperity throughout the year.

There are many popular varieties of field peas, including black-eyed peas, purple hull, crowder peas, and yellow-eye peas. Most Southerners will agree that they are an essential part of a New Year's Day dinner. A typical New Year's Day dinner includes black-eyed peas and long-cooked greens. Together, they are thought to symbolize coins and folding money. Collard greens, turnip or mustard greens, spinach, kale, cabbage, or Swiss chard are all excellent options. For a full meal, serve the peas with hot cooked rice and add a pan of classic Southern cornbread.


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"Black-eye peas seem to have a subtle, earthy smokiness all on their own, and when paired with ham, it's a knockout combination. This recipe was so comforting when served on top of rice. We added hot sauce to make it spicy. I'll make it again with a fresh cayenne pepper for even more heat." —Danielle Centoni

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas

  • 4 ounces salt pork

  • 1 large onion

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic

  • 8 ounces ham

  • 2 stalks celery

  • 1/2 red bell pepper

  • 1/2 green bell pepper

  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, or a seasoning salt blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Cayenne pepper, to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. Rinse the black-eyed peas and pick them over, removing any damaged peas or small stones. Put them in a large Dutch oven and cover with water to a depth of about 3 inches above the peas. Cover the pan.

    black-eyed peas in a covered pot

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  3. Following package directions, soak the black-eyed peas overnight or boil for 2 minutes and then let them stand for 1 hour. Drain the peas.

    black-eyed peas in a pot

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  4. Remove the rind from the salt pork or other fatty pork and cut it into 1/2-inch dice. Thick bacon, side meat, and streak-o-lean are some good alternatives to salt pork.

    bacon cut into pieces on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  5. Peel the onion and chop it finely.

    onion diced into pieces

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  6. Peel and mince the garlic.

    minced garlic on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  7. Place a heavy skillet over medium heat and sauté the diced salt pork with the onion until onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute longer.

    bacon, onions and garlic in a pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  8. Meanwhile, dice the ham, celery, and the red and green bell peppers, if using.

    diced ham, celery, the red and green bell pepper on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  9. Transfer the sautéed salt pork, onions, and garlic to the pot with the drained peas. Add the diced ham, celery, the red and green bell pepper (if using), and the Cajun seasoning blend. Add water or unsalted chicken stock to just cover the peas (about 4 to 5 cups).

    black eyed peas, diced ham, celery, the red and green bell pepper with water and the bacon mixture in the pot

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  10. Simmer the peas uncovered for about 1 hour, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Check the peas occasionally and add a little more water if necessary. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper, as desired.

    black eyed pea mixture in the pot

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  11. About 20 minutes before the peas are ready, cook the rice following the package directions. Keep the rice warm until serving time.

    rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni


  • Tomatoes are often included in a dish of Hoppin' John. If desired, add a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes to the peas about 10 minutes before they're ready.