Easy Traditional British Mushy Peas

Traditional mushy peas recipe in a bowl

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Soaking Time: 12 hrs
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
  • Yields: 2 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
15 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 15
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 630mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 1g
Calcium 5mg 0%
*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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Click Play to See This Traditional British Mushy Peas Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces/225 grams dried marrowfat peas (available in British supermarkets, specialty stores, and online)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or to taste
  • Optional: 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for mushy peas
    The Spruce / 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 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until the baking soda dissolves.

    Peas in water
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Let the peas soak for a minimum of 12 hours.

    Let peas soak
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Drain and rinse the peas well in a colander, then transfer them to a large pot.

    Peas in pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Cover the peas with cold water and bring them to a boil.

    Cover the peas
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Lower the heat and simmer the peas for approximately 30 minutes or until they soften and turn mushy.

    Lower heat
    The Spruce / 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.

    Season the peas
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  8. Serve the mushy peas hot with fish and chips or a tasty meat pie. Enjoy!

    Serve the mushy peas
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

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.

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.