Easy Traditional British Mushy Peas

Traditional mushy peas recipe in a bowl

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Soak Time: 12 hrs
Total: 12 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
45 Calories
1g Fat
7g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 674mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 122mg 3%
*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.)

Love them or hate them, traditional mushy peas go with British food favorites like peanut butter goes with jelly. Usually served alongside pub fare such as fish and chips or hot meat pies, mushy peas occupy the space typically reserved for coleslaw on a lunch plate in American restaurants. In Ireland, they're often served alongside roast leg of lamb. Impostor mushy peas recipes use frozen and even fresh peas, but they do not come even close to the real thing. That being said, marrowfat peas are not exactly a grocery store staple in the U.S., but you can get them at specialty stores, online and, of course, British supermarkets.

For real traditional mushy peas, you must soak dried marrowfat peas overnight (at least 8 hours unless they are labeled "no soak"), then cook them low and slow. Marrowfat peas are mature standard green peas that are allowed to dry in the fields. They are different from young garden peas because they contain a high proportion of starch, giving them their signature texture. Baking soda added to the simmering peas causes them to explode and create the desired mush. Some dislike the result, but fans insist that the soft, melting texture of the peas tastes lovely when eaten with freshly cooked hot chips or a meat pie straight from the oven, preferably with a delicious drizzle of mint sauce on top.


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"They’re very good! I made the marrowfat peas (bought online) as directed. I added salt and pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, and butter. The peas look a little drab in color at first but are bright vivid green once cooked. I also tried them with a little cream—they were rich and delicious both ways." —Diana Rattray

Easy traditional British mushy peas in a white bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 8 ounces/225 grams dried marrowfat peas (available in British supermarkets, specialty stores, and online)

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, optional

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk, optional

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or to taste, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for British mushy peas gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

  2. Place the peas in a large bowl or stockpot; they need plenty of room to expand. Add the baking soda and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until the baking soda dissolves.

    Peas soaking in a bowl of water

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Let the peas soak for a minimum of 12 hours.

    Soaked peas in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Drain and rinse the peas well in a colander, then transfer them to a large pot.

    Peas in a large pot

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Cover the peas with cold water (about 2 cups) and bring them to a boil.

    Peas in a pot covered with cold water

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Lower the heat and simmer the peas uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until they soften and turn mushy.

    Cooked peas that have softened in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Season the peas with salt and pepper to taste. Add the optional sugar if you prefer them slightly sweeter, heavy cream or milk to give them a fluffier texture, or butter for flavor. You can also smash them with a fork for a smoother texture, or run them through the food processor if you prefer a puree.

    Peas in a pot with seasoning and a fork

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Serve the mushy peas hot with fish and chips or a tasty meat pie. Enjoy.

    Mushy peas served flaky pot pie on a white plate with a fork

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variation

  • If you cannot find marrowfat peas, substitute frozen baby peas. Skip the soaking and proceed directly to the stovetop boil. Cook the peas according to the package directions, then mash them to achieve the classic mushy peas texture. Add salt and pepper and optional flavorings as desired.
  • Though not traditional, a squeeze of lemon brightens the flavor of mushy peas. You can also add chopped fresh herbs to taste. Add about 1/4 cup of fresh, coarsely chopped mint to the cooked mushy peas, along with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

How to Store and Freeze Mushy Peas

Cooked mushy peas keep well covered for a few days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them in an airtight container or plastic freezer bags. Make a large batch and portion them into individual servings for freezing.

What's the Difference Between Marrowfat Peas and Fresh Garden Peas?

Fresh garden peas are harvested when young. Marrowfat peas are mature garden peas that have been allowed to dry naturally in the field before harvesting. It's what gives them their starchy texture—and ability to get mushy.