Hoppin’ John

Looking for luck in the new year? You might try making this classic Hoppin’ John for New Year’s. From the recipe archive, first posted 2010.

This was the year I fell in love with black eyed peas. (The food. Already loved the band.) They have a wonderful flavor, almost smoky, even without bacon or ham. Earlier this last summer we put them in a salad with feta and spinach. So so good.

The dish that black eyed peas are most famous for is Hoppin’ John. No idea where the name came from. And depending on where you are from you might not even call it that, but simply black eyed peas and rice. Hoppin’ John is one of those classic Southern dishes that come with as many versions, stories and flavors as there are cooks. At its core, however, Hoppin’ John is rice, black-eyed peas (or field peas), smoked pork, and onions. Black eyed peas are supposed to bring you luck if you eat them on New Year’s Day, and it is traditionally eaten with collard greens.

So, for this new year, I offer you a hot plate of Hoppin’ John. May we all enjoy its good luck. Happy New Year!

Hoppin’ John Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Note that many things may affect the cooking times of the peas. They could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook to tenderness, depending on their age, where they were grown, the water you are using.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1/3 pound bacon, or 1 ham hock plus 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, about 2 cups
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • Salt
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • Scallions or green onions for garnish

Method

1 If you are using bacon, cut it into small pieces and cook it slowly in a medium pot over medium-low heat. If you are using a ham hock, heat the oil in the pot. Once the bacon is crispy (or the oil is hot), increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery, onion, and green pepper and sauté until they begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

2 Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, thyme and Cajun seasoning and cover with 4 cups of water. If you are using the ham hock, add it to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or longer if needed, until the peas are tender (not mushy).

3 While the black-eyed peas are cooking, cook the rice separately according to package instructions.

4 When the peas are tender, strain out the remaining cooking water. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the peas for salt and add more if needed. If using a ham hock, remove it from the pot, pull off the meat, and return the meat to the pot.

Serve the dish either by placing a ladle-full of black-eyed peas over steamed rice, or by mixing the two together in a large bowl. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with collard greens, kale, beet or turnip greens.

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Links:

Hoppin' John Soup - from Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Hoppin' John - from A Year of Slow Cooking

Vegetarian Hoppin' John from Christine Cooks

Prosperity Starts With a Pea - New York Times article about black-eyed peas

Wikipedia entry on Hoppin' John

Hoppin John

54 Comments

  1. RM

    Great to see a classic Southern recipe. I’ve eaten this every New Years, and would be afraid to test my luck and not eat it.

    The tradition is:
    (Black eyed) peas for peace
    (Hog) Jowls for joy
    Rice for riches
    Greens (in my family we eat spinach, not collard) for greenback

    We also always eat cornbread, which I’ve read is for gold, but we just have it because it goes well.

    Best wishes for a happy 2011!

    Thank you for enlightening me on the meanings of the ingredients, and Happy New Year! ~Elise

    • mb

      Ours is black-eyed peas are luck, collards are money, and hog jowls just ’cause we’re southern.

    • Laura

      I have never heard of a hoppin’ john, this is so intriguing! Need to make this instead of ordering pizza.

  2. Pat from Newcastle

    Tradition says that the first bite of food in the New Year should be Hoppin John. Since I believe that whatever I’m doing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve I’ll do for the rest of the year, I make sure that I’m sleeping in bed (or maybe not sleeping…) with my adored husband of many years. We have Hoppin John and cornbread for breakfast.

    Many wishes for a bountiful (love, peace, joy) 2011 and many thanks for a delightful site.

  3. Rebecca

    Just made my own version for the first time tonight before reading your recipe, and we’re totally in sync! Almost exactly the same, except I used frozen black-eyed peas. I live in Virginia Beach, VA, and earlier this week, I pulled a zillion recipes off the internet to figure out how to make the dish for my church’s lunch to feed the homeless and it was very similar. Wanted to make it for myself and my husband to see how it tasted (I’m from Michigan, and we just never did this sort of thing up there). What a great way to ring in the New Year – the house smells wonderful! Happy New Year and thanks for all your excellent recipes! They’re the best!

  4. Georgiaberry

    Yummy! I am cooking black eyed peas right now :) In my southern Arkansas family, we eat our peas with cornbread, and for New Years my granny always put a few dimes in the pot for luck. I guess the luck was that no one ever choked to death on them LOL.

    My husband’s family does black eyed peas for luck, cabbage for wealth, and ham for health, so now I cook that full dinner on New Year’s Day. It is delicious.

    A lazy hoppin john with canned black eyed peas (I like Trappeys brand with jalapeño) is a delicious quick lunch that I have enjoyed many times. Your recipe sounds delicious! Fresh green onions are a must with black eyed peas!

  5. CJ McD

    I love Hoppin John. Sometimes I’ll sub a smoked turkey leg for the bacon or ham hock. And don’t forget to pass the hot sauce!

    Happy New Year Elise!

  6. steph

    With your love for Black Eyed Peas (which I share) you should check out “Mississippi Caviar”. It’s a cold dip, sort of a southern take on a classic bean dip. In the south, ever family has “their recipe”. Ours is: black eyed peas, a fresh vinaigrette, extra olive oil, lemon juice, diced red, green and yellow peppers, chives (or vidalia onion), garlic, fresh parsley and whatever fresh herbs you can get your hands on.

  7. David

    This is a great recipe, but I always add a can of turnip green or mustard greens toward the end. Makes it a more complete meal.

  8. Elizabeth

    I’m from SC, so I make this every year on New Years, as well as throughout the year. :)

    I grew up with the tradition that black eyed peas brought luck and collards brought money!

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to try this version. Mine always has ham, bacon, and peppers in it!

  9. Julie

    What can I sub for the cajun seasoning? Would Old Bay work?

    Sure, that’s a great idea. ~Elise

    • maggie

      can this be made ahead and freeze..?? i have soaked overnight 2 pkgs. of dry bep’s…need to get ready !!

  10. Amanda

    Every year for New Year’s, we have as many black eyed peas as we can eat to ensure a prosperous year. We have ham and cornbread to go with it because they all just taste good together. Happy New Year!

  11. Mary Ann Draeger

    I love my Hoppin John with a real good vinegar and lots of a good hot sauce.

  12. Juliana

    Frozen black-eyed peas are frozen fresh and make much better (and quicker) peas than dried ones.

  13. Judith

    I don’t buy spice mixtures, so would you please deconstruct Cajun seasoning for me? I know I have all the separate herbs and spices, but I need some proportions.
    Thanks.

    Hi Judith, I haven’t made Cajun seasoning from scratch, but if you Google it, I’m sure you’ll find some recipes. ~Elise

    • Frank Speyerer

      Franks Famous Creole Seasoning
      ________________________________________

      This type of seasoning base is used in many New Orleans restaurants, from Emeril’s to Commander’s Palace to K-Paul’s. This is particularly good on grilled chicken or duck.
      ________________________________________

      Ingredients:

      • 2 parts salt
      • 1½ parts paprika
      • 1 part cayenne pepper
      • 1 part white pepper
      • 1 part black pepper
      • 1 part granulated onion
      • 1 part granulated garlic
      • 1 part crushed dried basil leaves
      • ½ part crushed dried oregano leaves
      • ½ part crushed dried thyme leaves
      • ½ part crushed dried parsley leaves
      • ¼ part ground bay leaves
      ________________________________________ Note: This version of Creole seasoning contains salt — If you like to control salt content separately, omit the salt from the blend.
      ________________________________________

      Method:

      1. In a medium bowl or food processor combine salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, ground black pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, crushed basil, crushed oregano, crushed thyme and parsley. Mix thoroughly.
      2. Use like salt. When it’s salty enough, it’s seasoned to perfection.
      3. Store in an airtight container for up to three months.
      ________________________________________ Note: The amounts in this recipe are given by volume. So a “part” can be a cup or a Tablespoon depending on how much seasoning you wish to make. Double or triple the recipe as you wish.

  14. Joshua

    This year, I tried something alittle different and made ours as a risotto. I cooked the peas and collards separately so they wouldn’t get too done, then added them at the last minute once the risotto was finished. Everything was nice an al dente. The cheese was an extra treat in the mix. Oh and of course, I added Tobassco and file. It was really kind of beautiful as well as tasty.

  15. ana

    New Year’s 2010 was the first year I ever cooked/ate Hoppin’ John and I felt it brought us a good year. New Year’s 2011 we had it again, not wanting to risk not having good luck this year! :-)

    I didn’t see your recipe until today (the 3rd) and yours looks more flavorful than the one I used so I will definitely try yours next time.

    Cheers!

  16. Shannon

    I made Hoppin’ John on New Years Day in the slow cooker. Pretty much the same recipe, though I added extra garlic, extra bay leaf, and some fresh sage and thyme and omitted the cajun seasoning (only because I didn’t think of it – darn!). It was tasty!!

  17. Rossella

    “Black eyed peas are supposed to bring you luck if you eat them on New Year’s Day”
    that’s interesting…in Italy it’s Lentils (cooked with pork, generally sweet sausages and/or cotechino ) and the kind of luck they bring if you eat them on New Year’s Day is financial ;)
    Be it peas or lentils tho, Happy New (Successful) Year to Simply Recipes! :)

  18. tommy2rs

    Try some Texas Caviar for your cowpea fix: Try some Texas Caviar

    Link leads to a Dallas Morning News article about the origins and the recipe. I’ve been making this since the 70’s and it’s good stuff. You can make it flaming hot or mild as creek water by adding or subtracting the fresh chiles

  19. Serena S

    I’m originally from Alabama and grew up with Hoppin’ John required with the new year. But now I live in South Africa. We find black eyed peas in the Indian food sections (quite expensive), and I’ve educated quite a few on the benefits of Hoppin’ John, spinach (they don’t grow collards here and never eat the greens from turnips) and corn bread which is an alien concept to them. Everyone loves it. I hope the tradition begins here in the old world.

  20. Barry

    Ah…a Southern tradition! I am originally from the South, and I can not remember a single New Year that we didn’t have black eyed peas and rice. It is super simple to make and tastes incredible! Brings back a LOT of great memories!

  21. Roger

    History of hoppin john: before the civil war some of the people in the south considered black-eyed peas to be “hog food”, most all white people would not eat them, they were beneath them. During the war food was scarce, if it existed at all. Elite whites said to the cooks….” add something to them and we will eat them” So one of the plantation cooks told her helper, named John, to ” get hoppin and find me some rice, onions and ham hock and I will make it.When asked the name of said dish, The cook replied, “hoppin John”. The name and recipe stuck. And I love the stuff.

    That is one of the stories floating around about the origins of the name. Here’s an interesting write-up in the New York Times on hoppin john: Prosperity starts with a pea. ~Elise

  22. Meaghan

    I’m going to make this for lunch today! I always try to buy black eyed peas to make on New Year’s Day, but I can never find ham hock. Thank you for suggesting bacon as a sub!

    -m

  23. Jackie@Syrup and Biscuits

    Beautiful presentation! I’m deeply entrenched in the traditional Southern New Year’s Day table. I wouldn’t think of skipping on pork, greens, blackeyed peas and lacey cornbread. We never called blackeyed peas and rice “Hoppin’ John” which is unfortunate. The name is way cooler than blackeye peas and rice. Happy New Year!

  24. Liz

    My whole life, my family (southeast Louisiana) made black-eyed peas, fried cabbage, and pork chops for New Years Day.

  25. mike G

    Happy New Year! Maybe, just maybe, the tradition is all about preventing/fixing a hangover!! But I like the good fortune message too.

  26. chris

    The rice & peas are supposed to be cooked together — that’s the entire point. NYT had an article a few years back describing the chemistry, the gist of it being, cooking the two together produces something that neither alone has.

    Oh and cooked together is the actual traditional way.

  27. Cynthia Franks

    I used Luzianne Cajun Seasoning and maybe that’s not the same thing as Cajun Spice, but the dish lacked flavor to me. However, it does reheat very well and is filling in a good way. The second time I made this I used The Spice of Seven Spices with ham hock instead of bacon and that livened it up. I used half a table spoon.

  28. Corie Miller

    I loved this. The flavor was so good! I plan to use this recipe over and over!

  29. Schuyler

    I wouldn’t mind a little luck this year so I’m going to try this on New Year’s Day! Having said that, I’ve never made anything with dried beans before, so I want to be sure I’m understanding this correctly: This recipe does NOT require that the beans be soaked overnight, is that true? They go in the pot dry, and the 30+ minutes cooking in the broth sufficiently softens them up?

    • Elise

      From the recipe: “Note that many things may affect the cooking times of the peas. They could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to cook to tenderness, depending on their age, where they were grown, the water you are using.” It all depends on the black-eyed peas. If you want, you can soak the beans ahead of time, that way the cooking time will be shortened. No need to soak overnight though, you can just put the beans in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit for an hour and drain.

    • Christian Gehman

      Yes, like lentils and split peas, black eye peas may be cooked without soaking.

  30. Cilt Bakımı

    This is a great recipe, but I always add a can of turnip green or mustard greens toward the end. Makes it a more complete meal.

  31. Wendell Smith

    I try to make Hoppin John several times a year just because it’s so darn good. My version has some ground beef in it along with the bacon or ham. Next time you give this a try sauté about 3/4 pounds of 80/20 ], drain it and add it to the dish. Man is this GOOD!
    This is coming form an ole Mississippi guy who now lives down here in LA……..That’s Lower Alabama fro those of you who do not know any better…………….

  32. Christine

    I’ve got a ham version of my Hoppin’ John in my slow cooker right now. Thanks for re-posting this and for the link. Happy New Year!

  33. Frank Speyerer

    New Years Menu:
    1. Black eye peas for luck.
    2. Cabbage for money
    3. Pork roast for love ..

  34. Alexander

    I am making a savory pork broth tonight from very meaty pork neck bones, which I roasted in the oven, and a pigs foot for extra flavor and body. Tomorrow I will cook the black eyed peas in this broth with diced ham and spices, then drain the peas and ham, saving the resultant broth. I will then cook the rice separately with smoked hog jowl bacon and the cajun trinity vegetables, and diced swiss chard, then add the peas and ham to the rice, and adjust consistancy with the reserved bean broth. I can’t wait til it’s done!

  35. Bonnie N

    I bought the peas and ham hocks this week for my NY day hoppin’ john. I’ve found gazillion recipes so I’m not in the dark for the prep. They’re all very easy. Thank you for your version.

  36. marianne

    LOVED READING THE COMMENTS. HAPPY NEW

    YEAR TO ALL!!

  37. Ginny

    Could I put the greens in with the hoppin’ John, instead of on the side? Anyone?

  38. Jessi

    I always put the collard greens in mine:) I cook them seperate and add them in towards them end when the black eyed peas are nearly done. Rice on the side and the pea/collard green/smoked pork (ham bone) is soup like over the rice.

  39. Christian Gehman

    Some think the name Hoppin’ John may come from the French “Pois Pigeon” (pronounced pwah peejzhaun). Sure you can put a handful of greens in — organic arugula works well. Or some Italian parsley. But not much. Neither cabbage nor kale, however. As with many another bean dish, the quality of the stock has a lot to do with the savor of the finished product.

  40. Christian Gehman

    Near Cismont, Virginia, where I was a country mailman for some years, bowls of steaming hot Hopping John are often served with a very sweet concoction of stewed tomatoes, served cold — like a relish. The sweet/tart flavor of the tomatoes complements the black-eyed peas quite well, so here is a short recipe for that.
    EXTRA SWEET STEWED TOMATO RELISH
    2 large cans diced organic stewed tomatoes
    1/2 to 1 cup organic sugar
    Put the stewed tomatoes in a saucepan with at least half a cup of organic sugar. Depends on the size of the can. Bring to a boil. Taste. Add more sugar if necessary. Cook until the liquid thickens and darkens slightly and turns glossy. Serve cold on top of hot Hoppin’ John.
    Hoppin’ John gets better as it ages, though you may need to add a bit of water to maintain the right consistency.

  41. Sarah

    This was so delicious! Thank you for a great recipe, my husband and kids couldn’t get enough so next time I will have to double the recipe!

  42. Yolanda

    I read that blackeyed peas are one of the food fighters for the Flu…good to know how beneficial as well as tasty they are to eat.

  43. Andy

    I’m not from the south, but have tried to make blackeyed peas for New Year’s in the past for luck. They always tasted horrible to me. However, I tried your recipe the other night–used both bacon and a ham hock–and it was terrific! Thanks so much for giving me a wonderful new New Year’s dish, Elise!

  44. Caroline in San Francisco

    Just finished making this recipe (with bacon) for tonight’s dinner. Had a sample taste, and it is very good. Now I wish I’d started eating Hoppin’ John years ago! Am adding black-eyed peas to the shopping list, so I can make this again SOON. Thank you.

  45. Christian Gehman

    The notion that eating Hoppin John on New Years Day augurs well for good fortune in the coming year may possibly be somewhat akin to an old Swiss saying: “You cannot be really unhappy if you are eating Lentil Soup.” In each case it may mean: happiness (or good fortune) means: you have SOMETHING to eat.

  46. Shealyn

    I came across this post when it was originally posted way back when. Still making this dish as our new year’s day tradition all these years later- we love it. I’d forgotten where I’d picked it up from so thanks for the repost.

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