Boiled Peanuts


Traditional Southern hot boiled peanuts. Raw peanuts boiled in salt water for a salty, shell-shucking-worthy snack.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

boiling peanuts

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.

boiled peanuts

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.


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


1 Thoroughly rinse raw unshelled peanuts in water.

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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More on the history of boiled peanuts

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

41 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. SunShine

    I really like this recipe this is the way my grandmother explain to me I am trying it with the seasoning and all thank you so much for this recipe my peanuts turned out great


  2. Florrie Salter Bumpers

    Yep, I agree with Steve-Anna, a fellow Auburn University alumni – green peanuts, salt and boiling water are all you need! War Eagle!!

  3. Lee

    Being a North Carolina I have eaten boiled peanuts all of my 47 years. I couldn’t tell you how many I have cooked over the years. Each year I buy about 100 pounds of green peanuts and freeze them for the rest of the year. I bag them raw without washing (straight from the field) and seal them with a Food Saver vacuum sealer. They will keep all year long and when you take them out and cook them they’re still taste fresh as new.

    Now the cooking is as simple as can be. Wash your peanuts well and pot them. The critical part is the water to salt ratio. Be sure to measure the water. Cover them in water and add 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water. Down south we sometimes cook very large batches for parties so knowing how much water you use is necessary. Cover your pot and boil on low heat for a couple of hours. Let them soak until you achieve the desired saltiness. They absorb the salt as they cool.

  4. Jack-O

    As a Southern boy stranded in Buffalo, NY, I miss many of the treats I then took for granted before I relocated. On my way back from a recent visit with family in Louisiana I brought 5 pounds of green peanuts which I immediately boiled upon arriving home. The last time I cooked a batch, my wife and mother-in-law weren’t exactly crazy about them, which just left more for me! ;-)

    This time, however, I tried a new trick my niece told me about. Much like dried peas and beans, after the first boil, I changed the water and rinsed the peanuts. Then I added salt (I’m a purist) and finished cooking them in fresh water. The result? Complete home run! Everyone who has tried them so far has absolutely loved them.

    They were such a hit, my wife was inspired to find C&B Farms in Crystal Springs, MS,( She ordered a 30# bag of peanuts which arrived via FedEx 3-day. In a word, AWESOME!! Best price per pound and, hands down, the best service of any online merchant I have ever dealt with!If you purchase from them, you’ll understand what “down home” is all about!

    Another tip I’m trying as I write this: After cooking, let the peanuts cool, then freeze them. She said she has tried freezing them with and without brine and they do equally well either way. The longest she kept them frozen was 3 months. (Her daughter always picked them up before any more time passed) She also says you can microwave them to thaw/heat or make another brine to heat them on the stovetop.

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  5. Martha Marie Lofton

    I boil the peanuts first and then let them cool all the way down to cold. then I freeze them . when I want some ,just take out of the freezer and lay out till they unfreeze. can be put in hot water while in the bag,they are just as good.

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