Boiled Peanuts

Before there was edamame in this country, there were hot boiled peanuts, which according to my Southern friends, are a staple in much of the South. Boiled peanuts are just raw peanuts that have been boiled in salted water for hours. Great with beer or a cold soda, these salty soft peanuts are totally addictive. A little messy too, given that the shells absorb some of the water which can squirt out at you when you bite into them to get the nut out. People usually eat them outside where you can toss the shells and not worry about the salt water dribbles. The season for raw peanuts is May through November; my pal Garrett picked these up for me this week at the local farmer’s market.

Now every time I post a traditional Southern recipe I get a little pit in my stomach because I’m not Southern and I’m sure I’m going to mess up how I write about the recipe. So here to help me with this one is my very Alabama BFF Steve-Anna Stephens:

I can’t even hear the words “hot boiled peanuts” without hearing ’em doled out in a thick Southern drawl. When Elise told me she was experimenting with a boiled peanut recipe, I immediately conjured up an image of a 50 gallon drum, situated over a fire pit in the dirt on the side of the road in Alabama – filled with steaming saltwater, and peanuts in the shell.

You used to could get (yes, I meant to write that) a bag of peanuts for about fifty cents. I like to crack the boiled shell between my teeth and slurp the peanuts into my mouth. There’s usually a little saltwater left in the shell, so, believe it or not slurping is the more polite option over squirting saltwater on an innocent bystander.

Now I can’t decide which is better, Elise posting a grits recipe or a recipe for hot boiled peanuts!

So there you have it, from a true lady of the South. Most people I talked to just boil their peanuts in plain salt water. Some add seasonings, I think a traditional seasoning (if you are going to use anything in addition to salt) is shrimp boil seasoning. I used a combination of smoked paprika and Old Bay which was quite tasty.

Boiled Peanuts Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

You can easily double or triple or quadruple the recipe ingredients. The longer the peanuts cook, or sit in the salty water, the saltier they will become. Also the longer the peanuts cook, the softer the shells will become. Some people prefer their peanut shells soft and almost chewy, some prefer a little firm so you can pry open the shells.

If you are making boiled peanuts for the first time, work with a small batch (like the one pound recipe that follows). If they end up too salty, use less salt the next time. If you like them softer, cook them longer. The inside nuts themselves should be completely soft. If crunchy or crisp, they need to cook longer.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of raw "green" peanuts (not the color green, but fresh raw peanuts which are called green peanuts)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 Tbsp table salt)
  • 4 cups water

Optional seasoning

  • 2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning, smoked paprika, shrimp boil mix, or even star anise

Method

1 Thoroughly rinse raw unshelled peanuts in water.

boiled-peanuts-1.jpg boiled-peanuts-2.jpg

2 Put water, salt, seasoning, peanuts in a large stockpot. Bring to a low boil. Cover and reduce the heat just enough to maintain a low boil. Boil for 2 to 3 hours or longer (some boil their peanuts all day), until peanuts reach desired level of softness.

3 Drain. Eat up within a couple of days. Boiled peanuts don't save as well as dry.

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Links:

Garrett's boiled peanuts with star anise
Cajun boiled peanuts from the VegCooking blog
Hot Boiled Peanuts - the band
More on the history of boiled peanuts

Showing 4 of 77 Comments

  • John

    I spent a summer, when I was 10 years old, on a peanut farm. I distinctly remember when they made boiled peanuts from them, since it was a way we could cook them to eat some of our crop, without having to go through the bigger process of having them roasted.

    I once had another southern friend, many years later, compare them to edamame when we described that to him. He said edamame was “the yuppie version of boiled peanuts”.

    Interesting to see them posted in a recipe :-)

  • sari tjio

    Hi Elise.. great post.. i’ve been following your blog for sometime now. Boiled peanut is also very popular snack in Asia. In my country (Indonesia), it is widely sold at the street sides, normally in the evening. You could easily spot the vendor by the brightly lit oil lantern and of course the smell of the nuts. If you bought it, the vendor would have them wrapped in used newspaper in a cone shape. Just like what you said.. people usually toss the shells at the street side. Love those..

  • Carolina

    I’m waiting for my cousin in Atlanta to send me some, I think he forgot and soon there won’t be any left, and I will be really p***ed!! I would make some myself if I had a clue where to buy raw peanuts.

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Any recipe that passes muster with Steve-Anna is a recipe I’ve got to try! I’ve had boiled peanuts while traveling through the South, but never once thought to try making them myself.

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