Take a trip to the deep south with this classic Hoppin’ John recipe. Slow cooked black eyed peas, crispy bacon, tender veggies, and a dash of cajun seasoning served over a bed of white rice make this flavorful meal a family favorite. A long standing recipe, this hearty dish will fill you with comfort all year long!
Did you know black eyed peas are a symbol of wealth, and it’s a long time southern tradition to eat them on New Year’s Day to bring luck and prosperity to the new year? This recipe hails from South Carolina, but has been enjoyed in kitchens all over the US.
There’s really no better way to enjoy a pot of black eyed peas than to let it simmer for an afternoon and soak up all those flavors! The bacon, garlic, and onion mixed with cajun spices really settle into the beans and solidify a taste that can’t compare with other, albeit faster, methods of cooking. Everything is slower in the south, and they certainly have the right idea when it comes to cooking up comfort food.
How To Make Hoppin’ John
- In a large pot (or Dutch oven) cook your bacon over low-medium heat, until it reaches your desired level of crispiness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pot and transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the drippings.
- Now add the diced celery, onion, and bell pepper to the drippings and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add your minced garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant but not burnt.
- Add the dried black eyed peas, chicken broth, water, Cajun seasoning, thyme, and oregano, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook for 1 - 1 ½ hours or until the black eyed peas are tender. Be careful not to overcook, you don’t want the black eyed peas mushy or overly soft. While the black eyed peas cook, prepare the rice according to the instructions on the package.
- Once the black eyed peas have cooked through, pour them through a strainer or colander to remove any excess liquid. Discard the bay leaf. Return the black eyed peas and cooked bacon to the pan. Taste and add salt or extra seasoning if needed.
- Serve the Hoppin’ John by stirring in the cooked rice, ladling over the rice, or with a side of greens. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired and enjoy!
Tips and Variations
- You can use water instead of broth, or a combination of the two. If using broth, keep in mind the salt content as the bacon and seasonings will already provide plenty of sodium to the dish.
- Check the black eyed peas for doneness around the 45 minute mark. Add additional liquid if you need to. Some beans cook faster than others and you don’t want to overcook them or dry them out too quickly.
- Instead of bacon, you can substitute smoked ham or ham hocks.
- Instead of a bed of white rice, another traditional way of serving Hoppin’ John is over a bed of collard greens.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: Hoppin’ John can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days for the best flavor.
This recipe can also be frozen. Store in a freezer friendly container for 3 months.
Reheating: When reheating, heat Hoppin' John on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through. If frozen, let thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- ½ pound bacon, uncooked, thick cut, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 onion, small in size, diced
- 1 bell pepper, green or red, deseeded and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 8 ounces black eyed peas, dried, picked through and rinsed (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 2 cups chicken broth, *See Note
- 2 cups water
- 1-2 teaspoon(s) Cajun seasoning, adjust to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon(s) thyme, dried
- ¼ teaspoon(s) oregano, dried
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 cups long grain white rice, cooked
- 4-6 green onions, chopped for garnish
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over low-medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, and reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the drippings.½ pound bacon
- Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper to the drippings, and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.2 ribs celery1 onion1 bell pepper3 garlic cloves
- Add the black eyed peas, chicken broth, water, Cajun seasoning, thyme, oregano and bay leaves. Stir to combine.8 ounces black eyed peas2 cups chicken broth2 cups water2 bay leaves1-2 teaspoon(s) Cajun seasoning1 teaspoon(s) thyme¼ teaspoon(s) oregano
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook for 1 - 1 ½ hours or until the black eyed peas are tender (not mushy or overly soft). While the black eyed peas cook, prepare the rice according to package directions.
- Once the black eyed peas have cooked through, pour them through a strainer or colander to remove any excess liquid. Discard the bay leaves, and return the black eyed peas and cooked bacon to the pan. Taste and add salt if needed.kosher salt
- Serve the black eyed peas by stirring in the cooked rice, ladling them over the rice, or with a side of greens. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.2 cups long grain white rice4-6 green onions
- See post for storage options.