Wondering if you can make delicious southern black eyed peas in an instant pot? Well, look no further! These creamy beans are packed with smoky, spicy flavors and happen to be one of the South’s most symbolic comfort foods. And with an instant pot, you can go from dried beans to cooked black eyed peas in a flash (no soaking required).
Southern Black Eyed Peas From An Instant Pot? Yup!
All my recipes don’t have backstories, but I get so pumped when I can share a recipe that has changed the way I view food. Black eyed peas are one of those dishes. My great-grandma always made them, and I didn’t appreciate them as a kid. But when I was in college, I remember visiting another grandma in Seattle, and her boo (yep, grandma had boo thang) made a pot, and I was forever changed. I just love the natural rustic flavor of a good bowl of soul food black eyed peas with tender smoked meats and cajun spices.
This instant pot black eyed peas recipe is bursting with classic southern flavor from the rendered beef bacon, a buttery sauteed trinity of bell pepper, celery, and onion, and a flavor-forward share of dried herbs and cajun spices. This dish is sure to satisfy you if you’re seeking a bit of southern comfort or looking for some classic soul food. And if you don’t have an instant pot, don’t worry. I’m also sharing stovetop and slow cooker instructions – so anybody can get some of this goodness.
Black Eyed Peas: A Symbol Of Luck & Prosperity
Black eyed peas are a symbol of good luck, particularly in the South. While native to Africa, black eyed peas were brought to the united states by enslaved Africans in the 17th century. They are also commonly called cowpeas, field peas, or crowder peas, even though they aren’t peas at all. They are more closely related to beans and are classified as legumes.
Eating black eyed peas to usher in the new year is a tradition passed down through generations of African Americans and southerners alike. According to Southern tradition, they are served on New Year’s day to ensure good luck in the upcoming year. As tradition has it, serving black eyed peas with greens represents green money, and serving them with cornbread symbolizes gold. If they are stewed with tomatoes, it symbolizes wealth and health.
Dry black-eyed peas: The star! You can find these in the dry bean aisle of your grocery store.
Beef bacon: Southerners love to use smoked meats like bacon and smoked turkey in their black eyed peas. This gives the dish a lot more body and heartiness. I don’t eat pork, so I went with a hearty beef bacon in this recipe. You can use any smoked meat that you like.
Unsalted butter: butter makes everything taste a little more comforting.
Southern Trinity: Onion, green bell pepper, celery stalks – this classic trinity of vegetables is key to many southern dishes. They add so much flavor and depth of character to this dish.
Garlic: If a recipe calls for garlic and uses less than 3 cloves, DON’T TRUST IT! Ha! That’s why we’re shooting for at least 5. I’m kidding, but garlic is key to taking this dish to the next level.
Bay leaf: Add a subtle layer of floral and piny flavor to pressure-cooked or slow-simmering beans, soups, stews, or braises.
Worcestershire sauce: Amps up the umami in this recipe.
Cajun seasoning: Let’s go ahead and plug the hubby’s low-sodium Cajun Seasoning because it KNOCKS in this recipe.
Chicken Stock or Broth: you can use water, but I suggest using a low-sodium chicken or beef broth to deepen the flavor.
Cooked rice (optional): not required for all, yet mandatory for a truly southern serving
How To Make Black Eyed Peas In An Instant Pot
Saute Bacon: Start by sautéing bacon in oil in the Instant Pot until crispy. Remove from the pot.
Saute Trinity: Add butter and saute veg until tender.
Add Remaining Ingredients: Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cook for 30 seconds, then add Worcestershire sauce, black eyed peas, chicken broth, and spices. Securely seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. All to natural release pressure.
Taste, Adjust & Serve: Remove bay leaves from the pot. If you like a creamier consistency, mash a few times with a potato masher. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm over white rice.
How To Make Black Eyed Peas On Stovetop
If making your black eyed peas on the stovetop, I would recommend soaking your beans first.
To make black eyed peas on the stovetop, follow the recipe instructions but instead brown the bacon and aromatics in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Add the black-eyed peas, Worcestershire sauce, stock, and spices, and boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid to reduce/thicken the liquid and cook until beans are completely tender, 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally and add additional stock as needed. Mash 1 cup of the beans, return them to the pot, and stir in. Discard bay leaves, adjust seasoning, and serve!
How To Make Black Eyed Peas In Slow Cooker
If making your black eyed peas in a slow cooker, I recommend soaking your beans first.
To make black eyed peas in a slow cooker, follow the recipe instructions but instead brown the bacon and aromatics in a skillet on the stove. Then, transfer everything to the slow cooker with the black-eyed peas, Worcestershire sauce, stock, and spices. Cover with lid and cook. If pre-soaked, cook beans for 3 to 4 hours on low heat. For un-soaked beans, cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
In the last 30 minutes, you can remove the lid to reduce/thicken the liquid and continue to cook until the beans are completely tender. Remember to stir occasionally and add additional stock as needed. Mash 1 cup of the beans, return them to the slow cooker, and stir in. Discard bay leaves, adjust seasoning, and serve!
How To Soak Black Eyed Peas
A definite benefit of soaking dried black eyed peas before cooking is that it shortens the cook time. This is especially beneficial if you cook your black-eyed peas on the stove top or in a slow cooker. Here are two methods for soaking your bean.
- First, you should always rinse and sort through your black eyed peas removing any debris or bad beans.
- For An Overnight Soak – To rehydrate black eyed peas, add them to a storage container, cover them with cold water, and let them sit in the fridge overnight or for at least six hours. Drain and rinse before cooking.
- For A Quick Soak – Cover black eyed peas with 2 inches of water and bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. Drain and rinse before cooking.
Black Eyed Peas Recipe Variations
- Make It Vegan – Omit the bacon and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Swap The Meat – Smoked turkey wings, ham hocks, or sausage are all common substitutes for bacon in black-eyed peas.
- Add Tomato – For acidity and sweetness, stir in a can of diced tomatoes or tomato paste.
- Add Greens – Stir in a few handfuls of chopped greens like collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Make It A Stew – Black-eyed peas make an excellent base for a hearty stew. Deglaze with wine or more broth, and bulk it up with vegetables like greens, leeks, and tomatoes.
Recipe Tip - Save Time - You may substitute the dried black-eyed peas with frozen black eyed peas. Frozen beans are already cooked, so you won't need to reheat them for as long. Cooking time may vary depending on what brand. Use package reheating instructions when incorporating this recipe.
Make Ahead, Freezing, Storing
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas are a great dish to make in advance, in fact, they taste even better the next day after cooking them.
To make ahead, cool black-eyed peas and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze them in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.
Reheat black-eyed peas on the stovetop, slow cooker, or microwave until warmed through before serving. Feel free to add additional broth or water as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are black-eyed peas eaten on new years day?
Southern superstition holds eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will bring you luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead.
Eating a bowl of black-eyed peas represents coins, and greens represent paper money.
Black-eyed peas with cornbread represent gold, according. Stew your black-eyed peas with tomatoes, and they become a symbol of wealth and health.
Do I need to soak black eyed peas before cooking?
If you are using an instant pot you don’t have to soak your black eyed peas. Soaking black-eyed peas first is not required to cook on the stove, but it is recommended. Soaking the black-eyed peas will help to reduce the cook time and is said to make them more digestible.
How long does it take to cook dried black eyed peas?
I recommend at least 1 hour (using the quick method XXX) to soak and about an hour to simmer on the stovetop, but less than 45 minutes total in a pressure cooker.
Are black eyed peas really beans?
Yes! Black-eyed peas are actually a type of cowpea, which is a legume in the bean family.
Why are my black-eyed peas mushy?
If your black-eyed peas are mushy, it’s likely because they were overcooked.
Another reason may be that you used canned black-eyed peas or frozen black eyed peas instead of dried black-eyed peas. Frozen and canned black-eyed peas are already cooked, so they don’t need as much time to cook.
If you follow this recipe, you’ll end up with tender black eyed peas that maintain their form, which I consider pretty perfect.
How can I make my black-eyed peas thicker?
Carefully mash ½ to 1 cup of black-eyed peas and add back to the pot of beans. You can also mash the beans with a fork. Either method, adjust the amount to your desired thickness. Always use caution when blending any hot liquid or soups!
[Okay - did I miss any questions? If you have more, leave me a comment bellow.]
Before You Begin
- Read through the recipe. This is the first time making a particular recipe; take a couple of minutes to read it through from start to finish. I promise it will help you move through the recipe quicker when you understand what’s coming next.
- Measure out your ingredients in advance
- Rinse the black eyed peas thoroughly and pick out any debris or bad beans.
- If cooking over the stove top, follow instructions for soaking black eyed peas before cooking.
- 1 lb. dry black-eyed peas rinsed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 slices beef bacon chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken or beef stock
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Savory Cajun seasoning
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Rinse the black eyed peas thoroughly and pick out any debris or bad beans.
- Turn 6-8 quart instant pot to “sauté” mode. Add oil and sauté bacon until crispy – 5 minutes. Remove from the pot.
- Add butter to the pot and once melted add onion, bell pepper, and celery sauté for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, cook for 30 seconds.
- Add chicken stock, worcestershire, cajun seasoning, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Hit cancel to stop “saute” mode.
- Stir in black eyed peas and bacon to the pot and seal the lid and turn the vent to ”sealing”. Select the “manual” or “pressure cook” function and cook on high for 35 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow it to naturally release for 15 minutes, then carefully release any remaining pressure.
- Stir to fish out bay leaves and discard. For a thicker, creamier consistency, carefully remove ½-1 cup of the beans and mash them. Stir the mashed beans back into the pot. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm over rice.
- Make sure you wash your dried black-eyed peas and discard any debris or damaged peas.
- It will take about 15 minutes for Instant Pot to come to full pressure, then the display will show a countdown timer.
- For beef bacon my favorite brands are Goodshalls and Wellshire Farms, but you can use your favorite bacon instead.
If you use a Cajun seasoning that’s not Savory Seasoning omit the salt in the recipe.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.