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Southern Black Eyed Peas

Southern Black Eyed Peas are a soul food staple for New Year’s, Sunday dinners, or any gathering. This dish is made with a rich pot liquor broth using smoked turkey or ham hocks.

Southern black eyed peas with smoked turkey in a white bowl

Tradition and Significance

The Southern Tradition for New Year’s surrounds the belief in luck and prosperity. The tradition states this dish should be your first meal of the year. Many Southerners, along with Black folks, will pair black eyed peas with Southern Collard Greens for the holiday meal. Collard greens are green and are recognized for prosperity as well.

And though they are called peas, they are actually beans. Like most beans, these are very nutritious and loaded with fiber and protein.

smoked turkey, spices, bay leaf, onions, and broth in separate bowls

Soaking the Peas

You will need fresh, dried beans for the recipe. If you want to lower the cooking time you will need to soak them in advance. You can soak them overnight in a large bowl filled with water or you can boil a large pot of water on the stove and then remove the pot from heat and add the beans. Allow the beans to soak for at least one hour.

Not soaking them in advance will add a couple of hours to your cook time.

dry black eyed peas in a glass bowl

How to Season the Peas

Old-school recipes typically use a ham hock. When using ham hocks, look for portions with more meat. Ham hocks are mostly bone and knuckle. While shopping, take a look at the selection.

I love to use smoked turkey (a wing or leg) as well. Either will work great with this recipe.

You can also use a leftover ham bone, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon. If you are planning to use bacon.

How to Make Southern Black Eyed Peas

  1. Place a pot on medium-high heat and add olive oil.
  2. When hot add onions and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add in broth, black eyed peas, smoked turkey, Creole Seasoning, and bay leaf.
  4. Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  5. Cook.

How Long to Cook

Total cook time will range from 1 1/2 – 3 hours depending on how you like your beans/peas. Check on the beans frequently while they cook. I like to cook mine for 2 hours. I like for them to be soft, but not mushy.

collage of 4 photos with onions cooked in a pot with smoked turkey and black eyed peas

You can test if they are done by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.

How to Use the Leftover Broth/Pot Liquor/Potlikker

Once your peas are cooked keep that remaining broth. Black folks love to refer to it as “pot liquor” or “pot likker.” The leftover broth is filled with nutrients. I love to use 6 cups of broth in the recipe to ensure rich pot likker. You can use it in other soup recipes, enjoy it with the beans, or simply sip it.

How to Double the Recipe

You can double the black eyed peas and use the same amount of smoked turkey or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same.

Southern black eyed peas with smoked turkey and a wooden spoon in a Dutch oven pot

How to Make the Dish Vegan or Vegetarian

Omit the smoked turkey or ham hocks. Use vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for flavor.

How Long Will They Last in the Fridge

They will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

How to Freeze

These will freeze for up to 9 months. Freeze them with the broth for best results.

Southern black eyed peas with smoked turkey in a white bowl

Pair With These Recipes

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
Slow Cooker Collard Greens
Vegan Collard Greens
Southern Cornbread

More Popular Soul Food Recipes

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes
Black Folks Sweet Potato Pie
African American Cornbread Dressing

Southern black eyed peas with smoked turkey in a white bowl
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Southern Black Eyed Peas

Southern Black Eyed Peas are a soul food staple for New Year’s, Sunday dinners, or any gathering. This dish is made with a rich pot liquor broth using smoked turkey or ham hocks.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 10 servings
Calories 119kcal
Author Brandi Crawford

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth or water Broth adds flavor.
  • 1 pound bag dried black eyed peas Rinsed.
  • 1 – 1/2 pounds smoked turkey Fully cooked. See notes for substitutions.
  • 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot or soup pot with water (enough to cover the black eyed peas). Place the pot on the stove to boil. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and add the black eyed peas. Allow the beans to soak for 1 hour and drain.
    Alternatively, you can soak the beans in cold water overnight.
  • Place the same pot on the stove on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  • When hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.
  • Add in the chicken broth, black eyed peas, smoked turkey, Creole seasoning, and bay leaf. Stir.
  • Place the lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 2-3 hours until the beans are soft. Test if the beans are finished by grabbing one bean out of the pot and mashing it with a spoon or fork.
  • Open up the pot and remove the bay leaf and smoked turkey. Use 2 forks and shred the turkey and return it to the pot. Taste repeatedly and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  • Cool before serving.

Notes

  • Not soaking the black eyed peas in advance will likely add a couple of hours to your cook time.
  • Rinse the black eyes peas first to remove any surface dirt.
  • You can reduce the amount of broth used in the recipe if you wish. 4-5 cups is adequate for a pound of beans.
  • Check the beans frequently to ensure they aren’t overcooked and mushy.
  • You can substitute ham hocks, a leftover ham bone, salt pork, country ham, or bacon for smoked turkey.
  • You can double the black eyed peas and use the same amount of smoked turkey or opt for one slightly larger. The cook time will remain the same. 
  • You can substitute Creole seasoning for whatever flavor or spice blend you like.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 2g
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