This Hoppin’ John recipe is black eyed peas simmered with ham and vegetables until tender, then served over rice. A classic Southern recipe that’s packed with flavor, and is said to bring good luck in a new year!
It’s a commonly held belief that black eyed peas bring good luck and prosperity in a new year. Every year on January 1st, I make slow cooker black eyed peas or this Hoppin’ John, and I always serve a side of cornbread.
Hoppin’ John is traditional dish that’s easy to make, inexpensive, flavorful and has symbolic meaning. While it’s often served at the start of a new year, I serve this comfort food favorite all year round, it’s just that good.
Why is it called Hoppin’ John?
The origins of the name of this dish are unknown. Many people think that the name is a derivation from the French term “pois pigeons”, which means dried peas. Others think that it was because people hopped around the table in anticipation of tasting the dish.
How do you make Hoppin’ John?
Start by cooking onion, bell peppers and celery in a pot until tender. Add garlic and diced ham or a ham hock to the pot. Stir in some seasonings, then add black eyed peas and chicken broth. Simmer for approximately one hour, or until the peas are tender. Stir in fresh herbs, then remove the meat from the ham hock and return the meat to the pot. Serve over steamed rice and enjoy!
Tips for the perfect dish
- You do not need to soak your peas before you add them to this dish. If you prefer to soak them, you can, just be aware that it may reduce the cook time. Be sure to rinse your peas to remove any debris before you cook them.
- Your cook time may vary depending on the freshness of your peas. While typical dried peas take about an hour to become tender, it could take as little as 45 minutes or as long as two hours.
- Serve your Hoppin’ John with collard greens and cornbread for the ultimate meal.
- This dish stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can freeze your peas and rice for up to 2 months.
Why are black eyed peas lucky on New Year’s Day?
It is thought that dried peas somewhat resemble coins, which represents riches in the new year. Another belief is that since peas swell up as they cook, it’s a representation of the expansion of wealth and fortune. This dish is typically served with cornbread, of which the yellow color represents gold, and greens which are the color of money.
While this is a fairly traditional version of Hoppin’ John, you can easily customize the ingredients to suit your tastes.
- Protein: I find that a ham hock produces the best flavor, but you can also use a ham bone, diced ham, smoked sausage, or even bacon.
- Peas: Some people use red cowpeas instead of black eyed peas. In a pinch, you could use a different type of dried bean.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add other veggies to the mix such as red bell peppers or a can of diced tomatoes.
This Hoppin’ John is the absolute best way to kick off your year! You can’t go wrong with the combination of smoky meat and creamy peas.
More southern dishes to try
Hoppin’ John Video
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup onion finely diced
- 3/4 cup celery finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded and finely diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large ham hock or 1 1/2 cups diced ham
- 1 pound black eyed peas rinsed
- 6 cups chicken broth I use low sodium
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- steamed rice for serving
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the bay leaf, thyme, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, ham hock or diced ham, and black eyed peas. Stir to combine
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring the pot to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for one hour or until peas are tender.
- Remove the ham hock from the pot. Cut the meat off the bone, and return the meat to the pot.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve over rice.