Southern Black Eye Peas Recipe

| January 3, 2012 | 13 Comments

A part of the Southern diet for nearly 300 years, it doesn’t matter if you call them Black Eye, or Black Eyed Peas, this is a great side dish for just about any meal.  You’re certain to find them on almost every Southern table on New Year’s Day, along with a pot of collards and skillet baked cornbread.  But, you don’t have to wait until then, this quick and easy recipe will let you enjoy black eye peas anytime.

Fresh black eye peas are available during the summer months here in the South.  Local farms let you pick your own by the bushel or peck if you’re ambitious enough to do such.  Mama and daddy use to pick’em from our own garden when I was a kid.  Afternoons and evenings were then spent sitting on the front or back porch with a big old wash pan of peas in your lap and an empty bushel basket by your side to throw the hulls in after you shelled them.

I never could handle much of the shelling of peas or butter beans either one.  I bite my fingernails and you need a bit of fingernail to slip into the pea hull and get them started.  You sort of break open one end with your thumbnail, then once you have an opening, you run your thumb down inside the hull and the peas pop out into your pan.  With black eye peas, you’d get about 8-12 individual peas from each one.  That means you have to do a good amount of pea shelling to get enough for Sunday dinner, even more if you plan on freezing or canning them.

Chances are, there was a big old glass of ice cold Sweet Tea sitting at the foot of your chair or on a small side table.  The conversation was always good as the adults talked about family, friends and days gone by for them.  If it was night time, the darkness would sparkle all across the yard with lightning bugs fluttering all around.  We didn’t have air conditioning so it was cooler to be outside than inside even after the sun had gone down.

Today, many of the larger roadside produce stands have electric pea shellers.  They can shell a bushel in hardly any time at all for you.  Some will have them already shelled and in plastic bags inside a refrigerator ready for sale.  Still, if you watch them while they run the machine, conversations seem to drift back to how it “use-to-be” when shelling them by hand.  Ahhh…the joy of modern day inventions.

Please Note:  Dry peas from the grocery store will need to be soaked at least 6 hours or overnight.  Plan ahead.

Now, Let’s Get Cooking!


You’ll need these ingredients.  I’m using a piece of hog jowl for seasoning.  You could also use bacon grease, fat back, ham hock or streak-o-lean.  To really be southern…you’ve got to add some pig.  (Smile)  Note that I placed a couple of slits in the hog jowl meat.  You’d want to do the same with a piece of fatback if you use that.  It just seems to help it cook better.


I’m using dried black eye peas to prepare my dish.  You can purchase them in 1-lb. bags at most any grocery store.  First thing you’ll need to do is place them in some type of large flat dish or on a baking pan so you can sort through them.  Most dried beans are mechanically processed these days and you’ll need to sort through them looking for any small pebbles, sticks or hard objects that might be mixed in with them.  Spread them around on the plate or run them through your hand until you’re sure they are free of anything you don’t want to bite into later.


Now, place them in a colander or large bowl and wash them real good with clean water.  You need to get off any dirt or dust that might be on them.


Place the washed peas into a large pot and cover them with a couple of inches of cool water.  The dry peas need to soak for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight to rehydrate them.  Some folks think you soak them in order to reduce the gas they may cause.  That may be true to an extent,  but truth is, beans are dirty.  Soaking them just helps clean off the “field dust” they have accumulated.  Water can’t be used during the picking and processing steps needed to get them from farm to table.  Any water added might cause them to mold or start sprouting so the dirt isn’t washed off in the packaging process.  Soaking them will also reduce the cooking time by about 70%.  Soaking allows the peas to absorb the water they need to cook evenly and not break open.  So, plan ahead, soak them overnight and be done with it.  It’s the Southern way.


The next morning, you’ll find your peas puffed up and ready to cook.  You’ll also probably see some “floaters” in your pot.  As the name implies, floaters are peas that you’ll see floating around on the surface of the water.  These are usually peas that for whatever reason didn’t absorb any water and will be dry if left to cook.  Just scoop them out with your hand or a slotted spoon and toss them in the trash.  You don’t have to over obsess with this because just about any time you stir them around, you’ll find a few more.  The really bad ones will be the first one’s you see after soaking them and I suggest that you remove those.  Look at my photo.  See how the water has turned dirty looking?  We’ll pour that off.

Pour the soaked peas out of your pot and back into your colander.  While you’ve got them in there, go ahead and rinse them under some cool running water.  Swish them around to remove any dirt or dust that might still be on them.


Can you tell the difference in my before and after pictures?  The dry beans are on the left and the soaked overnight beans are on the right.  Look closely at the space up the side of the colander and maybe you can see how they increased in size after absorbing the water overnight.  Cool huh?


Fill a large pot about half full of water and bring it to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.  Drop in your pork meat seasoning of choice if using such.  Reduce the heat down to medium and let the pork simmer for about 30 minutes to give it a head start on the cooking process.  As stated, I’m using hog jowl in my recipe and it’s a bit salty.  Peas require a lot of salt, but we’ll be careful about adding more at the end of the cooking process to avoid getting them too salty.

If you’re using bacon grease in your recipe, you can eliminate this part and save yourself the extra time.  You’ll add the bacon grease later.


After the pork has cooked for about 30 minutes, carefully add the peas into the pot.  That’s hot water so don’t splash yourself.


Let the peas return to a slight boil, then reduce the heat to medium-LOW.  You want to cook them low and slow for about 45 minutes or longer.  If they are cooking too fast, the water will evaporate out.  You can add more water if needed but it tends to weaken the “broth” somewhat.  If adding water, add HOT water from the faucet.

After about 45 minutes, remove the pork, set aside and let it cool.

(Note:  If you’re using bacon grease instead of a piece of pork, now would be a good time to add it after the peas have cooked some.)


Now, add 1-Tablespoon of sugar.

Add 1-teaspoon of black pepper.

At this point, you should stir them well and taste them.  The type of pork seasoning that you use will determine how much additional salt, if any, that you will want to add in the next step.  You may not need to add any.  It’s just up to you and your personal taste.


Add a teaspoon of more salt if needed.  Cooking is flexible so adjust them to suit your family’s needs and desired tastes.  Beans can soak up some salt, so add more gradually, stir well, then let cook for another minute or two and taste again.  Should you get it a little too salty, add some more hot water and that should help.


Chop up about half a medium size onion.  Again, more or less depending on your taste.


Chop up your hog jowl if you’re using it.  Hog jowl has a good amount of fat.  Fatback is all fat.  Some folks like to chew it, but I’ve never acquired a taste for it myself.  I removed most of the fat from the cooked hog jowl and chopped up the remaining meat sections.  You’ve already got the flavor out of the fat as it cooked so it isn’t necessary that you add it back into the pot.  The meat of the hog jowl is rather tasty so I chopped it up and will add it back to the pot of peas.


Add the chopped onion and pork into the pot of peas.  Stir well.


If your black eyes appear a little thick or creamy at this point, you may want to add about a cup of hot water.  Just stir it all together well and let the onions cook until they become translucent in color.  When the onions are fairly clear and the peas are done to your liking, they are ready to serve.  It’s best not to cook them down to mush.  They can overcook if you don’t watch them.  Cooking times will vary as with any recipe, just keep testing the beans until they are tender but not mushy.


Serve yourself up a bowl along with some “fried” hog jowl.  Oh…and a piece of cornbread.




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Southern Black Eye Peas Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


A part of the Southern diet for nearly 300 years, it doesn’t matter if you call them Black eye, Black Eyed or Black-Eye Peas, this is a great side dish for just about any meal. You’re certain to find them on almost every Southern table on New Year’s Day, along with a pot of collards and skillet baked cornbread.



  • 116 ounce bag of dried Black Eye Peas
  • 4 – ounces of Pork Seasoning: Hog Jowl, Fatback, Ham Hock
  • 1 – Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1 – teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 – teaspoon of Salt, more or less to suit your personal taste
  • 1/2 – medium Onion, chopped
  • 810 – cups of water


  1. Open package of dry beans and spread out on a large plate or pan.
  2. Sort through peas, removing any stones, sticks or hard objects. Discard any dark looking beans.
  3. Place peas in a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of cool water. Set aside to soak.
  4. Let soak about 6 hours or preferably overnight. See package for other options.
  5. Next morning, pour peas into a colander and drain. Rinse under cool running water till clean.
  6. In a large pot, place about 8 to 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
  7. Place a few slits in your pork seasoning of choice and add to the boiling water.
  8. Reduce to medium-heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
  9. Add the rehydrated peas to the pot of water.
  10. Bring the peas back to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  11. Stir the peas about every 15 minutes watching that the liquid doesn’t boil away. Add more if needed.
  12. After about 45 minutes, remove the pork seasoning and set aside to cool.
  13. Add the sugar and then the black pepper and stir well. Taste to see if more salt is needed.
  14. Most beans absorb a lot of salt. Add a little at a time, let cook a minute or two and taste again.
  15. Chop up half a medium onion. Chop any meat portion of the hog jowl and add both to pot.
  16. Let the onions cook on medium-low heat until they are translucent. Continue to stir about every 10 minutes.
  17. Taste the peas for tenderness. When cooked to your liking,remove from heat and serve.
  18. Enjoy!!!


Actual cooking time will vary depending on your taste preference for tenderness of the peas. Don’t overcook until mushy. Peas can be cooled and refrigerated for several days. Add a little more water as needed when reheating. About 2-Tablespoons of bacon grease can be used instead of hog jowl or fatback. If you use bacon grease, you will skip the 30 minutes cook time for the pork pieces. It’s best to add the bacon grease seasoning after the peas have cooked for about 45 minutes. Continue to stir and taste until tender and seasoned to your families taste preferences.

Keywords: Southern Black Eye Peas Recipe, made from scratch, homemade, old fashioned, comfort food, southern recipes, blackeyed peas

I’d love to know if you try these.  Please feel free to leave a comment in the section below, I always enjoy reading them.

Be Blessed!!!




Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Side Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (13)

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  1. Melanie Ways says:

    For a different taste try adding two stalks of celery, an onion, a carrot,and garlic, all chopped small and a tablespoon of thyme.You could saute the veggies but I dont. I’m lazy so instead of dried beans I use six cans of canned peas with the liquid and add that to two ham hocks cooked until tender, chop them up and include the liquid they are cooked in (I simmer two hours). When soup is ready to eat, I take about a third of the beans and mash them up to thicken the broth. Happy eating.

  2. The Colonel says:

    Everyone has different tastes, so I suggest you and some of your readers give this variation a try. I grew up eating black-eyed peas made just like this. My grandmother and mom used fatback. But we didn’t add the onions to the pot. We added them, uncooked, to the peas after they were served. Makes for a nice difference in texture, because they’re crispy in the somewhat mushy peas, and the onion flavor is much more pronounced. Again, different strokes for different folks, but I recommend trying uncooked onions once.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Colonel, I’ve had Black Eye Peas with freshly chopped onions on top many times. You’re right, they are truly good that way. When I was in about the 7th grade I walked to and from school each day and often walked past the house where one of my Aunt’s lived. I remember stopping at her house one afternoon on the way home and she offered me some of her freshly cooked Black Eye Peas. Then, she asked me if I wanted some cut up onions on top of them. That is my first memory of eating them that way, so I must have liked them even as a youngster. Thank you for your memories, and for reminding me of my own. Smile. It’s my pleasure to share the recipe. Thank you for your visit today, I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Rosemarie says:

    OMG! Just made the black eyed peas! Utter perfection. Sometimes the simpler the recipe the better! Tasted just like Mama’s! Please don’t tell her I said that. YUM YUM!

  4. Sandra says:

    I picked up some sliced, skin off hog jowl today. Should I fry this up like bacon and use the grease for the beans, or throw it in the pot of water like you did with the piece you used in the recipe? I also got a package of ham hocks, just in case! Will be making this for New Year’s, 2015!!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Sandra, I’m a bit late on answering your question, but I hope the Black Eye Peas recipe turned out well for you. You could certainly cook the hog jowl either way you mention. Just a matter of preference.

      Thank you for the question, and I do hope you and yours have a safe and Happy New Year. Be sure to visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Mary Flammer says:

    Just looking at this makes me hungry for some good southern food, I’m sure their good because its like my mother made every New Years along with a pan of cornbread. Sure miss the south and its great food. I was lucky to come across your website searching for homemade Salisbury Steak, my family really enjoyed it and will be a regular addition. Nice to have it without all the salt that is in the frozen.Thanks so much for sharing your recipes. I plan on making more recipes in the future.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Mary, I’m thankful you found Taste of Southern, and I appreciate your comments and compliments on our site. You didn’t say where you’re living now, but we left the light on for you whenever you decide to return to the South. We’d be glad to have you back. (Smile)

      Thank you for trying our Salisbury Steak recipe, I’m glad you liked it. I do hope you’ll get to try some others, and that you’ll let me know how they turn out for you. I appreciate your visits, don’t be a stranger, stop by and visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. Neicie says:


    Our family is from Mississippi~b-eyed peas are my favorite. We also cooked them down until they WERE creamy; simply a matter of taste as they were perfect over a slice of cornbread.

    Reading your recipe and blog reminds me of the “old days” watching my Mother and my Grandmother cook.


    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Neicie, Thank you for your comments on the the Black Eye Peas Recipe. I’m thankful you were willing to give them a try and I know they were good with that hunk of cornbread.

      I’m glad we could bring back a few memories for you. I do hope you’ll try some of our other recipes and visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Diane Bathauer says:

    This recipe is one of the most authentic for good ol’ down home Southern black-eyed peas that I have come across. I can almost taste a big heaping spoonful of them and their wonderful juices smothered over open slices of hot, fresh cornbread in the summertime. I have lived in CO for over 25 years, and I can’t seem to find anyone out here who appreciates the finer things like this that you just can’t get anywhere else but down home where I came from. What a pity!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Diane, I liked the way you described them better. Made me hungry just reading your comment. They are good though, and something that I don’t enjoy often enough myself.

      I’m thankful you found Taste of Southern, and really appreciate your comments. I do hope you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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