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.



  • 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


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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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

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Showing 4 of 57 Comments

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

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