Say hello to a roadside favorite.


Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe Summary

10 mins
8 hrs
1 hr
14 hrs 10 mins
Serves 12

It's easy to master this roadside staple at home—boiled peanuts take hardly any effort to make. All you need are peanuts, water, salt, and time. Just make sure you choose the right peanut. Raw peanuts have been air-dried to reduce their moisture content, making them shelf-stable and available year-round. Green peanuts are freshly dug from the field and should be used within a few days of their harvest.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place 2 gallons of water in a 10- to 12-quart stockpot. Add ½ cup of the salt to water; stir until salt dissolves. Add raw peanuts. (Skip this step if you are using green peanuts.) Use a large dinner plate to help submerge the floating peanuts. Soak peanuts 8 hours or overnight. (This step saves a little time boiling, but if you don't have the luxury of soaking time, you can skip it.)

  • Drain soaking water; add 2 gallons water and 1 cup salt to peanuts. (Note level of water on side of pot.) Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until peanuts are as soft as roasted chestnuts or softer, 5 to 8 hours (2 to 3 hours for green peanuts), keeping water in pot within an inch or so of its original level with regular additions of water. After peanuts have boiled 3 hours (1 hour for green peanuts), sample them to check their texture and salinity. Remove a peanut, and wait until it is cool enough to handle. Open the shell, and give the peanut a chew, slurping some brine with it. If it crunches, cook it more. If the brine lacks salt, add more by ¼-cup amounts. If it is too salty, remove some of the water, and replace with the same volume of fresh water. Allow an hour for the salinity to equalize before testing again. Sample peanuts every hour until they are pleasantly yielding and as salty and appetizing as a good pickle.

  • When peanuts are cooked, remove from heat, and let them cool in the pot 1 hour (20 minutes for green peanuts). When cool enough to handle, drain and eat. Or store in the shell, in a sealed container, in the refrigerator 7 to 10 days or in the freezer several months.


The Proper Way to Shell a Peanut:It's easier than it sounds. Using both hands, pinch the seam of the shell between your thumbs and forefingers until the top shell gives way, and then pry it off. You can lower your mouth to the peanuts and tease them out using your teeth or pick them out of the shell with your fingers. Slurping the brine left in the bottom shell (like you would oyster liquor) will earn you extra credit among aficionados.Try These Twists:They're delicious plain, but also try them paired with boldly flavored ingredients—from barbecue sauce to Old Bay seasoning. By Karen Rankin

Beer and Old Bay: In Step 2, reduce kosher salt to ¾ cup and water to 1 gallon. Stir 6 (12-oz.) cans beer, 6 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning, and 2 halved lemons into brine. Bring to a boil, and continue with recipe as directed.

Smoky Barbecue: In Step 2, stir 2 cups barbecue sauce, 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika, 1 halved head of garlic, and 4 bay leaves into cooking liquid with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, and continue with recipe as directed.

Soy and Spice: In Step 2, reduce kosher salt to ¾ cup. Stir 2 ½ cups soy sauce, 2 (5-inch) cinnamon sticks, 3 star anise, ¼ cup coriander seeds, and 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder into brine. Bring to a boil, and continue with recipe as directed.