Hoppin’ John is as southern as it gets – creamy black-eyed peas cooked with bacon, peppers, onions, and garlic – served with a side of homemade cornbread and collard greens. It’s the perfect meal to serve on New Year’s Day.
Black-eyed peas are another one of those southern dishes that can be totally gross if they are cooked poorly. (Just like collard greens!) If you have a bad version, you’re scarred for life! If you have been scarred by some bad beans, this Hoppin’ John recipe will change your opinion of black eyed peas!
Cooked Hoppin’ John style – these black-eyed peas are out of this world good.
What is the Significance of Hoppin’ John?
Hoppin’ John is a classic southern dish typically served on New Year’s Day as it is thought to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. (Can everyone make these, please?)
The idea is to eat “poor” on New Year’s Day to eat “rich” for the rest of the year. Though hoppin’ john, collard greens, and cornbread are all so delicious – the food might be cheap, you will definitely think you are eating rich.
I was doing some research for this post, and apparently, some people even throw a coin into their pot of peas, and whoever gets it in their bowl will have an extra bit of luck. (This is definitely a choking hazard, and coins are really dirty, so please don’t actually do this.)
Along with Hoppin’ John (also known as Carolina Peas & Rice), collard greens are served as they are the color of paper currency (dollars), and cornbread is served as it is the color of gold. If you eat your Hoppin’ John leftover the next day, it is sometimes known as a Skippin’ Jenny and is said to promote wealth as you are showing how frugal you can be eating leftovers.
Other Fun Hoppin’ John Traditions
Aside from poisoning your family by feeding them pennies, other common traditions include having each person at the meal leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, good fortune, and romance.
Another tradition – and I hope you don’t make anyone do this – says that counting the number of peas in a serving will predict the amount of luck or wealth that you will have in the coming year. (That would be a lot of peas to count.)
Another fun fact for New Year’s Day is that pork is commonly eaten because pigs root around with their snout in a forward motion. This symbolizes forward progress, so eat pork for forward progress in the coming year.
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- Bacon – I like to use thick-cut smoked bacon because it adds a lot of flavor to the beans.
- Green Bell Peppers – I like to use a green pepper, but you can also add some diced red bell pepper to add a little sweetness and a little different flavor.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves
- Dried Thyme
- Kosher Salt
- Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- Bay Leaves
- Dried Black-Eyed Peas – Do not use canned – this will not be as good, and the beans will overcook. Just be sure to pick through the beans for small rocks and give them a quick rinse before using them.
- Chicken Broth or Water
- Optional but recommended – A Ham Hock or leftover Ham Bone from a Christmas ham.
- Also Optional – Seasoning Ham or Tasso, Andouille Sausage
- White Rice
- Hot Sauce
- Pepper Vinegar
- Extra Salt and Pepper
🍽 Equipment Needed
- A Dutch Oven or Medium-Sized Pot
- A Rubber Spatula/Spoon
- Measuring Spoons
- A Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
🥣 How to Make It
Begin by dicing the bacon, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño, celery, and garlic.
Heat a medium-sized pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
The first thing I like to do is cook the andouille sausage – it leaves behind some crispy bits & fat that flavor the beans. (I do the same thing when making gumbo & red beans.) Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage.
Add the bacon and cook it until it is just about crispy. (Pictures 1 – 2)
Next, add the tasso or ham if you are using it. (Picture 3)
Add the onions, celery, and green bell pepper next and cook until the onion is translucent (Pictures 4 – 5) then add the minced garlic & jalapeño and cook for 1 – 2 minutes – you don’t want the garlic to burn, just get aromatic. (Pictures 6 – 7)
Now add the thyme, kosher salt, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and toss to coat the vegetables. (Picture 8)
Next, add the black-eyed peas and stir. (Pictures 9 – 10)
Add the ham hock, then cover it all with chicken broth. (Pictures 10 – 12) Stir, and add bay leaves.
Now, bring the broth to a rolling boil and stir. Decrease the heat to low heat and keep the beans at a low simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half until the beans are soft but not mushy. (Pictures 13 – 15)
Tip: Toward the end of the cooking time, cook white rice according to the package directions – or use an Instant Pot to make Perfect White Rice.
Remove the Hoppin’ John from heat when the beans are cooked but before they get mushy.
🍱 Recipe Yield
This recipe serves 8 – 10 as a side dish or 4 – 6 as the main course.
🙋♀️ Frequently Asked Questions
Canned black-eyed peas are likely what makes so many people think that black-eyed peas are disgusting. (My previous self included.) They have no flavor and just have this undesirably chalky texture. Dried peas develop so many layers of flavor when cooked in a seasoned broth – it is like a completely different food – so the long answer is, no, I would not use canned peas.
Absolutely. Just use a bit of oil in place of the grease from the bacon to saute the vegetables, then use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. If you are missing the meaty, smoky flavor of traditional Hoppin’ John, you can add a splash of vegan Worchestershire sauce or liquid smoke. (It won’t be as good as the ham hock/bacon version, but it will do the trick!)
Please let me know if you can figure it out. I did some research and could not find anything remotely helpful about the significance of the name. (Does anyone want to ask Fergie for me and find out why they chose that name?)
Known for their small black spot, black-eyed peas are actually a bean (though they are called peas.) They are also referred to as cowpeas, stew peas, cow peas, or field peas because they grow on small bushes or short trellises – you will often see fields of black-eyed peas in the south.
No. Not at all. Hoppin’ John will have the most flavor if the beans cook fully in the broth. Since they are so small, they cook fast and will absorb the taste of whatever they are soaked in.
You can use smoked turkey legs, a hog jowl, or smoked turkey neck bones. You can also use the leftover bone from your Christmas ham and add leftover diced ham to the Hoppin’ John.
Too salty? Slice some red potatoes into thin medallions and lay them over the beans while they simmer and remove them when they start to get soft. The potatoes will suck up the salt. Don’t throw them away though, they will be really delicious and are a good alternative to serve to people who don’t like rice!
If you don’t have any Tony’s, you can use Slap Ya Mama if you have it or make your own Cajun Seasoning – I have a recipe here.
Worst case scenario, just add a pinch of cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little extra salt.
1 pound of dried black-eyed peas is around 2.5 cups, and it yields around 5.5 cups of cooked beans.
🍳 What to Serve with Hoppin John
Make this a New Year’s tradition – or really serve it any day – with a side of collard greens and homemade cornbread. It is a cheap meal – and a delicious one – that will bring you prosperity and health in the New Year! I think we need as many people as possible to give this a try – we need it after this year!
🥫 How to Store Leftover Hoppin John
Once cooled, store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up about 5 days. These black-eyed peas also freeze really well and can be reheated quickly on the stove if you make too big of a pot and get sick of them or if you want to make them in advance of the holiday. Like most Southern dishes, they seem to be even better the day after you cook them.
✏️ Helpful Tips
- Use dried black-eyed peas when making any kind of Southern black eyed-peas. The peas are really small and cook pretty quickly, so they absorb so much more of their cooking liquid and develop so much flavor without getting overly mushy.
- Increasing the amount of garlic that you use will only make this recipe better.
- Do not overcook black-eyed peas – they are much better with just a little firmness.
- Add leftover ham, tasso, or diced andouille sausage to take this recipe to the next level!
- To make a vegetarian recipe for Hoppin, John, leave out the bacon and use vegetable broth. You can replace the bacon grease with olive oil or butter.
- Some fun things you can add to your Hoppin’ John are diced and cooked Andouille sausage, leftover Christmas ham, or even Tasso.
- You can also add a can of diced tomatoes, but only add them at the end of the cooking time – when you have about 15 minutes left.
Other Amazing Southern Recipes
- Collard Greens
- Instant Pot Collard Greens
- Sweet Cornbread
- Southern Style Green Beans
- Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!
Hoppin’ John – New Year’s Day Black Eyed Peas
- a 5 quart dutch oven or a large pot
- 6 slices bacon, hickory smoked and thickly sliced
- 1 ½ cups celery diced (~4 stalks)
- 1 ½ cups yellow onion diced (~2 medium sized onions)
- 1 ½ cups green bell pepper diced (~2 small peppers)
- 1 jalapeño minced
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2-3 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound black eyed peas about 2 ½ cups dried
- 6 cups chicken broth or water + extra if needed
- 1 ham hock or a leftover ham bone
- 1-2 bay leaves
- tasso ham
- leftover ham or seasoning ham
- andouille or hot smoked sausage sliced
- Begin by dicing the bacon, onions, peppers, celery, and garlic.
- Heat a medium-sized pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
- The first thing I like to do is cook the andouille sausage – it leaves behind some crispy bits & fat that flavor the beans. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage and set it aside.andouille or hot smoked sausage
- Add bacon and cook until just about crispy. Add tasso or ham if using and cook for about a minute.6 slices bacon, hickory smoked and thickly sliced, tasso ham, leftover ham or seasoning ham
- Then add onions, celery, and green bell pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent.1 ½ cups celery, 1 ½ cups yellow onion, 1 ½ cups green bell pepper
- Then add minced garlic & jalapeño and cook for 1 – 2 minutes – you don't want the garlic to burn, just get aromatic.1 jalapeño, 3 – 4 garlic cloves
- Now add the thyme, kosher salt, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and toss to coat the vegetables.1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2-3 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Next, add the black-eyed peas (rinsed and picked through for bad beans and rocks – but not soaked at all) and stir.1 pound black eyed peas
- Add ham hock, then cover with chicken broth. Stir, then add bay leaves.6 cups chicken broth, 1 ham hock, 1-2 bay leaves
- Now, bring broth to a rolling boil and stir. Then decrease the heat and keep the beans at a low simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Toward the end of the cooking time, cook white rice according to the package directions – or use an Instant Pot to make Perfect White Rice.
- Remove the Hoppin’ John from heat when the beans are cooked but not mushy.
- Serve right away with white rice, collard greens, and cornbread. Top with pepper vinegar and green onions if desired.2 cups white or long grain rice, pepper vinegar, 1 – 2 green onions
Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.