Satisfy Your Cravings with Southern Peas and Ham Recipe

Howdy y’all! As a chef who loves the flavors of southern-style cuisine, I am excited to share my recipe for Southern Peas and Ham. This dish is a classic in the south and is often served on special occasions like New Year’s Eve and Day.

Growing up, my family enjoyed this dish as a staple during gatherings and celebrations. With memories of laughter and sharing meals, I learned how important it is to bring people together through food.

This pea and ham recipe is a testament to southern style cooking and its deep-rooted tradition of sharing warmth and love with friends and family around the table. I hope this dish becomes a favorite in your household as well. Let’s get cookin’!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Peas and Ham
Southern Peas and Ham

Y’all, let me tell you why you are going to fall head over heels in love with this Southern Peas and Ham recipe. First off, it’s a classic that has been cooked up in Southern households for generations. There’s nothing quite like having a steaming bowl of black-eyed peas to fill your belly and warm your soul.

Secondly, this dish is versatile and can be enjoyed as a side dish or main course. I mean, who doesn’t love a recipe that works for any mealtime? Plus, the ham adds incredible flavor and protein to the dish, making it both savory and filling.

Finally, this Southern-style recipe is perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re celebrating New Year’s Day or just craving comfort food on a cozy winter evening, these peas will hit the spot. So trust me when I tell you that this recipe is going to become a new favorite in your kitchen repertoire.

Ingredient List

 A bowl full of southern comfort
A bowl full of southern comfort

For the Southern Peas and Ham recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried black eyed peas, rinsed and drained

  • 6 slices lean ham or a smoked ham hock

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

The foundation of this hearty dish is, of course, the Southern Black Eyed Peas. You can use either dried or canned black eyed peas for this recipe. However, I highly recommend using dried black eyed peas as they will give you a deeper and richer flavor. You will also need some meaty goodness to flavor your pea soup. Choose sliced lean ham, ham bone, smoked ham hock, or country ham – all are perfect for this recipe.

Next on our pantry raid is onions. They infuse additional flavors into the dish and provide a welcome contrast to the fluffy beans. Chicken broth provides a second layer of flavor as well as adding depth to the dish. Bay leaves are essential in many southern dishes, offering up hints of floral aroma that help round out each sip or bite. Salt and fresh ground pepper offer a dash of spice and round out the overall taste sensation. Lastly, Olive oil helps insulate ingredients so they don’t stick to the pan while adding additional flavors notes; plus it’ll help carry delicious flavors all through your soup if you stir it in at just the right time.

The Recipe How-To

 Hamming it up with some peas
Hamming it up with some peas

Preparing the Ham

Before you start cooking, prepare the ham by removing any bones and excess fat. Cut the ham into small cubes or bite-sized pieces using a sharp knife. Alternatively, you can use a meat cleaver if you prefer.

Cooking the Peas

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sliced ham, stirring occasionally until the onions turn translucent and the ham starts to brown. Add water and the pre-soaked black eyed peas, followed by a meaty ham bone or smoked ham hock for flavor.

Bring everything to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours or until the peas are tender but not mushy. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary to prevent the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Adding Flavor

To enhance the flavor of your southern peas and ham recipe, add a bay leaf or two, some fresh ground pepper, and a pinch of salt during cooking. You can also add some chopped collard greens or diced tomatoes for added color and nutrition.

Finishing Touches

Once your peas are cooked to perfection, remove the ham bone/hock and discard it. If you prefer a thicker consistency, mash some of the peas with a fork or potato masher before serving.

Serve hot on its own as a comforting soup with some cornbread on the side or as a side dish with rice, chicken or pork chops. This dish is perfect for special occasions like New Year’s Eve or any Southern-style meal.

Substitutions and Variations

 A hearty southern classic
A hearty southern classic

As a chef, I understand that substitutions and variations are sometimes necessary to make a recipe work with the ingredients I have on hand. When it comes to southern peas and ham, there are a few ways you can change up the recipe to suit your taste buds.

Firstly, if you don’t have black-eyed peas on hand, other peas like crowder peas or field peas work just as well. They’re similar in texture and flavor to black-eyed peas and will still give you that classic Southern taste.

If ham hocks or bones are not available, lean ham can be used instead for added protein. You can use smoked ham, country ham or even diced ham in place of meaty ham bones. Smoked turkey or turkey sausage could also be used instead of ham to add a twist to the dish while keeping it hearty.

For those who prefer vegetarian options, substitute the meat with salt pork for added flavor. Vegetable broth can replace chicken broth for vegetarian stock.

Furthermore, this dish can be served over rice as a simple dinner or accompanied by collard greens on New Year’s Eve as part of the traditional Southern meal. A pea soup recipe can also be created by adding more water or chicken stock if desired.

In conclusion, there are many possible variations of this recipe that cater to different tastes and preferences without losing its Southern flavors.

Serving and Pairing

 Just like grandma used to make
Just like grandma used to make

Now, let’s talk about serving and pairing this delicious Southern peas and ham recipe. There are so many ways to enjoy it, and it’s a perfect dish to share with loved ones.

I recommend serving this dish piping hot over a bed of white rice. The flavors are so rich, you’ll want something to soak up all that delicious savory broth. Also, consider adding some green leafy vegetables like collard greens or turnip greens, as they make for an excellent nutritional side dish and provide a healthy balance to your meal.

This hearty Southern-style black-eyed peas recipe is a great entree course that’s perfect for bringing in the new year or having on New Year’s day. It’s also really versatile and can be paired with any number of sides such as coleslaw, cornbread, or even baked sweet potatoes if you’re in the mood for something sweeter.

You can also pair it with some refreshing drinks like iced tea or lemonade. Oh! And don’t forget a good slice of bacon on top of your peas. It fuses together beautifully with the flavors in this dish and adds the perfect crunch.

Lastly, when you serve your warm bowl of Southern Peas and Ham recipe to your guests, I recommend adding some freshly chopped parsley for color and flavor. This recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd or making ahead for easy family dinners throughout the week. Trust me; it won’t last long on the table, so be sure to make extra!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A satisfying dish for any occasion
A satisfying dish for any occasion

In the busy world we live in, making a dish that can be prepared ahead of time and stored for later can make life a lot easier. Fortunately, this Southern Peas and Ham recipe is perfect for just that.

To make it ahead of time, cook the peas according to the recipe instructions but leave out the salt and pepper as they can change in flavor if stored for too long. Let the peas cool down to room temperature then store them in an airtight container in the fridge. You can store them for up to 5 days.

When you are ready to reheat, simply place the peas in a pot with a splash of water or chicken broth and heat over low heat until warmed through. You may need to add additional salt and pepper as reheating can alter the seasoning.

For longer storage or meal planning purposes, this dish freezes well too. Freezing will not affect its taste, but it is best to freeze it without any added salt or pepper.

To freeze, allow the peas to cool off completely then transfer them into freezer-safe bags or containers. Be sure to remove any excess air from containers as it can cause freezer burn. You can store them frozen for up to 2 months.

To thaw out your frozen peas, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge overnight, or on your countertop if you’re short on time.

Reheating frozen peas is simple; place them in a pot over low heat with chicken broth or water until heated completely. You may need additional seasoning once reheated.

Remember that when storing and reheating food safety is essential. Always practice safe food handling procedures and ensure leftover dishes are thoroughly heated before consuming.

With these easy make-ahead and storage steps, you’ll be ready at any moment to savor a hearty bowl of Southern Peas and Ham without fuss or stress!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Peas and ham, the perfect pair
Peas and ham, the perfect pair

Cooking southern-style food is all about patience and preparation. And there are some simple tips that can take your Southern Peas and Ham recipe from good to great. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years that will make sure your peas come out perfectly every time:

1. Soak Your Peas

Soaking your black-eyed peas or other Southern peas overnight before cooking them helps to soften them up and makes the cooking process faster. Just make sure to discard the soaking water completely and rinse the peas well before adding fresh water to cook.

2. Use Ham Hocks

When it comes to adding flavor, ham hocks are a classic ingredient in Southern cooking. Use meaty ham bones or smoked ham hocks to infuse your peas with tasty, savory flavor and depth.

3. Season Your Water

Season your water at each step along the way—when you simmer the ham hocks, when you add the onions or aromatics, then season again before adding in the beans. A good rule of thumb is 1 tsp of salt per quart of water.

4. Don’t Overcook The Beans

Southern peas are best when they’re cooked until they’re just tender—it’s a fine line between perfectly cooked and mushy, so keep a close eye on them!

5. Skim The Foam

While your peas are cooking, you might notice a foam rising to the surface of the pot—skim this off with a spoon or ladle as you go for clearer soup.

6. Simmer Slowly

Simmering your Southern Peas and Ham slowly over low heat is an essential step for tender and flavorful results. Don’t rush it by turning up the heat too high!

7. Keep Your Eye On It

Never leave your pot unattended! It’s important to check on it regularly – stir occasionally, add more liquid if necessary, and taste as you go.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to achieving the perfect pot of Southern Peas and Ham.

Bottom Line

This Southern Peas and Ham recipe is truly a taste of the South in a bowl. Whether you’re looking to ring in the new year or just want to enjoy a comforting, hearty meal with your loved ones, this dish is perfect for any occasion. With its savory flavors, tender ham, and perfectly cooked peas, this recipe will be sure to impress your family and guests.

So don’t hesitate, grab your ingredients and get ready to create a dish that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like the taste of southern-style black eyed peas and ham – it’s soul food that feeds both the body and the heart.

And if you’re feeling adventurous or want to try something different in the future, don’t forget to experiment with some of the substitutions and variations mentioned earlier. With endless possibilities for customization, this recipe can easily become a new family favorite with each twist and turn.

So go ahead and create memories around the dinner table with this Southern Peas and Ham recipe. It’s more than just a meal – it’s a tradition that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Southern Peas and Ham

Southern Peas and Ham Recipe

Taste of Home; loved by my family
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 83.8 kcal


  • 3 cups shelled fresh purple-hull peas
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup cubed lean ham
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes-1 hour or until peas are tender.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 180gCalories: 83.8kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 6.1gFat: 0.6gSaturated Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 2.3mgSodium: 189.5mgFiber: 4.6gSugar: 5.3g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Easy, Stove Top, Summer, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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