Simple Peas and Onions

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Quick and easy peas and onions! A go-to side for almost any meal.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I wasn’t always a lover of peas.

When I was a kid, on the days peas were being served for dinner, my siblings and I would jockey for a particular seat at the dining room table. This spot had a secret drawer in the table. (Well maybe not so secret, but good enough to not catch the notice of our unsuspecting parents.)

The trick was to take a spoonful of peas, cover your mouth as if you were wiping something away, extricate the peas from your mouth into your hand, slyly open the drawer, and place the peas in the drawer.

Yes! Mission accomplished! “See mom and dad, I finished my peas!”

I think they finally caught on one day when cleaning the table they came across some shriveled up old peas, but the ruse was good while it lasted.

Thank goodness I outgrew that!

Simple Peas and Onions

These days I always like to keep at least one bag of frozen peas in the freezer. Not only do they make a great impromptu ice pack if you need one, but they cook up in a flash and go with practically anything.

Simple is best. And if I have a spare minute I’ll snip a leaf or two of mint from the yard, slice it thin and add to the peas.

Simple Peas and Onions Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 pound shelled peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (use vegetable stock or just plain water for vegetarian version)
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)


1 Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter foam recedes, add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions for a few minutes until they just begin to brown.

2 Add the peas and the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Taste for salt and add if needed (you might not need to add salt if your stock is already pretty salty.) If you want, add a pinch of sugar to highlight the sweetness of the already sweet peas.

3 Stir the peas and onions often – you want the stock to reduce by about half without overcooking the peas. When the stock has reduced, turn off the heat and add the remaining butter and some black pepper. Serve at once.

If you want, sprinkle on some sliced fresh mint.

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  1. B

    Thanks for sharing, it was delicious.

  2. Rob

    My step-mother adds sliced water chestnuts for a little texture. It’s the only time I ever eat water chestnuts.

  3. StephenC

    (Submitted in the chef to chef spirit of sharing.)

    I would reduce the stock before adding the peas. With frozen peas I like to just get them hot so they don’t become mushy.

    Good suggestion, thanks! ~Elise

  4. John

    I, too, have always liked peas. To Lisa_S… I was not a fan of Limas until I discovered Fordhook Limas. I found a Limas and Mustard Sauce recipe a few years ago that has become a “must have” with ham!

    Basically, the Mustard Sauce recipe is 2 tblsp Mayonnaise, 2 tsp Mustard (we like to use Gulden’s, or a brown mustard of that sort), and 2 tblsp milk. Heat over medium-low heat until warm and smooth. Pour over the Fordhooks and sprinkle with Paprika. UMMM, terrific!


  5. megan

    Hi, this looks fantastic. Do you defrost the peas if you aren’t using fresh?

    Good questions. You don’t need to. The peas will defrost when you add the stock and bring them to a boil. ~Elise

  6. Chandrika


    Nice pea recipe! While growing up, I always loved peas. In winter/fall season (when peas are very cheap) in India, my parents always stir-fried peas with onion and tomato and little cumin powder. I looked forward to that evening snack…it was just delicious.

    But, in US I find peas are little sweeter to my taste. Now when I make the stir fry, I squeeze a little lemon juice to balance out the sweet flavor.


  7. Rossella

    Hi there! we commonly add a little guanciale or smoked bacon (thinly sliced!!) to counterbalance the sweetness of the peas (exp. if they are fresh, springtime peas). Let the bacon cook with the onions, then add the peas. Makes a great dinner with some thickly sliced fresh home-made bread and Asiago cheese…and a glass of cold white wine, of course! :)

    Love the idea of some smoked bacon or guanciale, yummmmm. ~Elise

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