Hoppin’ John


Hoppin' John! A classic Southern dish to celebrate New Year's. The black-eyed peas are for good fortune in the coming year.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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!

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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.

Hoppin John with black eyed peas

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. (Want to make black eyed peas from scratch? Here’s how to make them on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker!)

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

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

This recipe uses 1/2 pound of dried black eyed peas (about 1 1/4 cups). You could use up to a pound of black eyed peas without changing the amounts of the other ingredients, if you do, you'll need to double the amount of water and you may need to add more salt.


  • 1/3 pound bacon, or 1 ham hock plus 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, about 1 1/4 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 Cook the celery, onion, green pepper base: 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 if you are using a ham hock and not bacon), 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 Cook the black-eyed peas and seasonings: 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 an hour to an hour and a half, (less time or more depending on the freshness of the black-eyed peas) until the peas are tender (not mushy).

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

4 Strain cooking water from peas, adjust seasoning: When the black-eyed peas are tender, strain out the remaining cooking water. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the black-eyed 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.

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

Wikipedia entry on Hoppin' John

Hoppin John

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

109 Comments / Reviews

No ImageHoppin’ John

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jacquie

    So, I do not follow recipes well. I started with olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot, and celery. Then I added diced ham, not a hock, then peas, parsley, a can of collard greens, diced roasted tomatoes, and some finely chopped golden potatoes. Almost forgot some, half a large, finely chopped green pepper. These are things I had leftover from the holiday! Tossed in some bay leaves, a container of chicken broth, salt, and 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar to give it some punch. Still need some savory, so in went a stick of butter. Yes its a giant pot of hoppin john. But it is delicious. Will serve it over rice, or even just on its own. Cornbread on the side. Low country cooking is all about using what you have and cooking it slow. Anyway… a fun dish to make. Lots of chopping.

  2. Deb

    So tasty! I passed the recipe on to family and several friends and intend to make this every New Year’s Day henceforth. Thank you for the winning recipe!


  3. Annita

    Surprisingly bland. I would add some jalapeño cheddar bratwurst in slices to it next time—or a dash of hot chili flakes. One bratwurst would be enough. I did NOT soak my beans, rinsed them well only; they were perfect after one hour simmering, not mushy, absorbed the water, didn’t burn. These are better served as a side dish than over rice (in my opinion). We had them per recipe, served with sauerkraut and spicy bratwurst. They took the heat out of the bratwursts. Complimentary.


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  4. Vanessa

    I followed the recipe to the letter…here is the dirty secret: it is a bad dish. It is bland, nearly-tasteless. I soaked black-eyed peas for nearly 20 hours (what does “overnight”‘ mean, anyway?). It makes more than any group of people could eat, easily making dinner portions for eight. I served it with cornbread muffins and spinach (I did not know how to make collard greens). Look at the picture, and imagine eating it. Watery beans over white rice. Save yourself the hassle.


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  5. Melanie

    We loved it! I added Conecuh sausage but that was the only change I made.


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