Classic Hoppin' John

4.4
(11)

This is a two-for-one dish: Enjoy the rice dish for dinner, and save the liquid for soups, beans, or stews later.

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Yield:
6 serves

A hearty bowl of Hoppin' John has been the way that many Southern households ring in the New Year. Served alongside a side of collard greens and cornbread, this meal signifies a year filled with good fortune and security.

Making use of thick-cut bacon to impart the perfect amount of smokiness to this soul food staple, our Hoppin' John recipe is sure to serve up a generous helping of both comfort and tradition for you and your family this New Year's Day.

Classic Hoppin' John

Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

What Is Hoppin’ John?

Served on New Year's Day with a side of collard greens and cornbread, Hoppin' John is a hearty African-American dish made by slowly simmering black-eyed peas with pork and vegetables.

Traditionally served over a bed of freshly cooked rice, this simple yet incredibly flavorful dish of rice, pork, and beans is believed to bring luck and prosperity for the upcoming year.

The signature black-eyed peas used in the recipe are meant to symbolize coins, which is why you'll find many Southerners eating black-eyed peas as a way of ringing in the New Year.

Classic Hoppin’ John Ingredients

There are three things you do want to keep traditional about your Hoppin' John recipe: the pork, the peas, and the rice.

  • Bacon: While you'll often find most Hoppin' John recipes calling for a ham hock, we find that, at times, it can overpower the dish. Instead, we recommend using thick-cut slices of bacon—you'll end up with crispy pieces of salty goodness without compromising on taste. Not a fan of pork? You can also use smoked turkey for a similar flavor.
  • Beans: While dried black-eyed peas are traditionally used in Hoppin' John, if you're pressed for time, you can use either frozen or canned beans.
  • Rice: Carolina gold rice is a nuttier, earthier strain of long-grain rice that's been a staple of the Lowcountry for centuries. If you can't find Carolina gold rice where you live, feel free to swap it out for any other long-grain white rice.
  • Vegetables: The Cajun culinary holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper are key to making this quintessential soul food classic.
  • Herbs and Seasonings: Fresh thyme, chopped garlic, black pepper, and cayenne are what you'll need to make this Hoppin' John recipe.
  • Chicken Broth: Using a low-sodium chicken broth helps keep your sodium levels in check. Got some time? Make some homemade chicken stock instead.

The Best Beans for Classic Hoppin’ John

While black-eyed peas are now commonly used in most Hoppin' John recipes, that has not always been the case. According to Serious Eats, earlier recipes dating back to the 1800s called for cowpeas, red peas, or field peas.

Also known as red peas or field peas—they belong to the same species, Vigna unguiculata—these beans were commonly grown in the South and known for their chewy, firm texture that did exceptionally well in long, slow-cooked recipes like the Hoppin' John.

Classic Hoppin’ John
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

How to Serve Hoppin’ John

You'll find this Hoppin' John recipe gracing most tables in the South on New Year's Day. Served alongside it is a side of collard greens and freshly baked cornbread; the greens are a symbol of paper money, while the cornbread represents gold.

For a complete New Year's Day spread, here's what else we recommend serving alongside a Dutch oven full of Hoppin' John.

How to Store Hoppin’ John Leftovers

When eaten the day after New Year's, leftovers of this hearty dish are often referred to as "Skippin' Jenny" to indicate one's frugality. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or freeze in a zip-top bag or airtight container for up to six months.

Hoppin' John leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or over the stovetop on low heat—be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of broth to the pot to prevent it from sticking to the bottom when heating up again.

Community Tips

  • "I had to use long-grain white rice due to availability but oh my, the trinity shines in this one," says reviewer Nancy Kunkel.
  • "I used canned peas and reduced the broth. Serve with collard greens and cornbread," says reviewer Kacie Mitchell.

Editorial contributions by Christabel Lobo.


Ingredients

  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Carolina Gold rice

  • Fresh scallions, sliced

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp, about 10 minutes.

    bacon cooking in dutch oven

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Add celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, black pepper, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 8 minutes.

    bacon, celery, and onions in dutch oven

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Add broth and black-eyed peas, and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until peas are tender, about 40 minutes.

    black-eyed peas on a spoon

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Drain pea mixture, reserving cooking liquid. Return pea mixture and 1 cup of the cooking liquid to Dutch oven. Cover to keep warm; set aside.

    hoppin' john without rice

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until rice is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

    rice in saucepan

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Fluff rice with a fork, and gently stir into pea mixture in Dutch oven.

    fluffing rice with fork

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Stir in remaining cooking liquid, 1⁄4 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Sprinkle servings with sliced fresh scallions.

    Classic Hoppin' John

    Stacy K. Allen, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Additional reporting by
Christabel Lobo
Christabel Lobo

Christabel Lobo is a freelance food writer and illustrator based between Washington, D.C., and India. She has contributed to Southern Living, Allrecipes, Zagat, OpenTable, EatingWell, Cooking Light, Insider, and more.

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