Black eyed peas are a Southern staple. Technically beans, not peas, these legumes get their name from their parent crop, cowpeas, and their prominent black spots. However, if you visit your local farmer’s market, you’ll find countless heirloom varieties, which can have brown, red, pink, or green “eyes” instead.

Southern Living

Black-eyed peas were likely introduced to America by African slaves brought to the South to work on rice plantations. Today, they are most commonly served as a side dish, cooked with meat and veggies or served with rice.

If you’re not sure how to cook black-eyed peas, here are a few tips for making them come out right:

  • Cook your beans low and slowa slow cooker is ideal
  • Add a smoked ham hock to your pot. The meat will infuse the black-eyed peas with rich, smoky flavor
  • Use dried black-eyed peas, if you can. They have a more toothsome texture and can stand up to long cook timesmeaning there will be more time for the flavors to develop without sacrificing the consistency

Our Favorite Recipes for Foolproof Black-Eyed Peas

This easy, three-step black-eyed peas recipe is made with kielbasa, a chopped onion, and bouillon cubes. Even with just four ingredients, the dish is rich and flavorful. Here’s the breakdown:

  • First, boil 2 1/2 pounds (about 3 cups) of shelled black-eyed or pink-eyed peas in 3 cups of water, along with two large beef bouillon cubes; one medium onion, chopped; and 16 ounces of kielbasa
  • Reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes or until tender. (If you’re substituting for frozen black-eyed peas, reduce the cook time to 30 minutes or until tender)
  • Serve with homemade Sweet Onion Relish
  • For a twist on this traditional recipe, try adding kale, corn, collard greens and sweet potato, okra, or even pulled pork

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something equally delicious that requires half the work, these Chili-Roasted Black-Eyed Peas made with canned beans are a unique and highly addictive party snack.

WATCH: Smoky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

Simply toss them in olive oil with a few seasonings—we suggest chili powder, pepper, cumin, and salt—and roast until crisp. The key is to bake the beans on high heat (around 425 degrees) as long as possible without letting them burn. After about 45 minutes, they should dry out, making them extra-crunchy. Just make sure to shuffle them around from time to time so they cook evenly. Enjoy by the handful or sprinkle over a salad.