Easy Traditional British Mushy Peas

Traditional English Mushy Peas
The Spruce
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Soaking Time: 12 hrs
  • Yield: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
15 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 servings
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. Impostor mushy peas recipes use frozen and even fresh peas, but they do not come even close to the real thing.

For real traditional mushy peas, you must soak dried marrowfat peas overnight, then cook them low and slow. Mature standard green peas allowed to dry in the fields, marrowfat peas contain a high proportion of starch, giving them their signature mushy texture. Bicarbonate or baking soda added to the simmering peas causes them to explode and create the desired mush. Some dislike the resulting texture, 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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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces/225 grams dried marrowfat peas (available in British supermarkets, specialty stores in the United States, 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
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  2. Place the peas in a large bowl or stockpot; they need plenty of room to expand. Add the baking soda and cover with 1/2 pint of boiling water. Stir until the baking soda dissolves.

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

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

    Peas after soaking
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  5. Cover the peas with cold water and bring the pot to a boil.

    Peas in water for boiling
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  6. Lower the heat and simmer the peas for approximately 30 minutes or until they soften and turn mushy.

    Simmering mushy peas
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  7. Season the peas with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can 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 even run them through the food processor if you prefer a puree.

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

    Traditional mushy peas
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  9. Enjoy.

Tips

  • Cooked mushy peas keep well 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.
  • Though not traditional, a squeeze of lemon brightens the flavor of mushy peas. You can also add chopped fresh herbs to taste.

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 mushy peas texture. Add salt and pepper and optional flavorings as desired.