Cooking dried black-eyed peas is tradition on New Year's because it's said that your luck will "swell" as dried black-eyed peas swell when cooked.
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closeup of uncooked black-eyed peas
Credit: Meredith

Black-eyed peas are delicious any day of the year. But on New Year's Day, as the tradition goes, if you eat a dish of black-eyed peas, you'll have prosperity throughout the year. The greens represent cash; the black-eyed peas, coins. So what is there to lose? These recipes are also a terrific way to use up leftover holiday ham!

And for those hoping to maximize their luck in the coming year, Wayne from Gaylesville, Alabama, has some bonus advice: "There are several DO NOT's if you want to keep your black-eyed pea dishes 'lucky': 1. Do not add chicken stock, as chickens and other fowl move backward as they eat. 2. Do not use beef, as a cow will move forward, sideward, and backwards as it grazes, whereas, a pig always pushes forward as it eats. 3. Do not use canned peas as they've already swelled, so your luck will not 'swell' as it will with dried peas."

Whether or not you subscribe to these superstitions, black-eyed peas are a versatile side dish for any time of year. Here you'll learn step by step how to cook dried black eye peas for New Year's Day, or any day.

How to Cook Dried Black-Eyed Peas 4 Ways

Cooking black-eyed peas is going to be the same as cooking any other dried bean: You'll need to sort them, wash them, (sometimes) soak them, and cook them. The good new is, black-eyed peas have one of the shortest cooking times of any dried bean.

Here you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to cook dried black-eyed peas four ways: on the stove, in the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, and in a stovetop pressure cooker.

How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas on the Stove

  1. Sort and wash the beans: Arrange the dried beans on a baking sheet and remove any debris or shriveled beans. Place the beans in a colander and run under cold water to wash anyway any dirt or dust.
  2. Soak the beans: If you're cooking black-eyed peas the traditional way (i.e. stovetop method), then you'll need to soak them first. You can soak them one of two ways: 1) Cover them with water and add two tablespoons kosher salt per pound of beans. Soak overnight. 2) Place beans in a large pot over the stove and cover with water. Add salt and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them soak for an hour.
  3. Cook the beans: Once your beans are done soaking, rinse and drain them. Add them to a pot over the stove and cover with at least two inches of water or stock. Add any salt or aromatics. Simmer until the beans are tender, about an hour. You can test them for doneness by either tasting them or mashing them against the side of the pot.

How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas in the Slow Cooker

  1. Sort and wash the beans: Arrange the dried beans on a baking sheet and remove any debris or shriveled beans. Place the beans in a colander and run under cold water to wash anyway any dirt or dust.
  2. Soak the beans (optional): Unlike the stovetop method, you don't have to soak your beans if you're cooking them in the slow cooker. If you choose to forego soaking, you will have to cook them for longer.
  3. Cook the beans: Add beans to a slow cooker and cover with two inches of water or broth. Add any seasonings and/or aromatics. If pre-soaked, cook beans for 3 to 4 hours on low heat. For un-soaked beans, cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas in the Instant Pot

  1. Sort and wash the beans: Arrange the dried beans on a baking sheet and remove any debris or shriveled beans. Place the beans in a colander and run under cold water to wash anyway any dirt or dust. Don't worry about soaking — you don't need to soak beans when pressure cooking them.
  2. Cook the beans: Add beans to an electric pressure cooker (such as the Instant Pot) and add 8 cups of water per pound of beans. Add any seasonings and/or aromatics. Close the lid and set the the pressure valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 20 to 25 minutes. Once the time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release for up to 30 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.

How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas in a Stovetop Pressure Cooker

  1. Sort and wash the beans: Arrange the dried beans on a baking sheet and remove any debris or shriveled beans. Place the beans in a colander and run under cold water to wash anyway any dirt or dust.
  2. Soak the beans (optional): Unlike the stovetop method, you don't have to soak your beans if you're cooking them in a stovetop pressure cooker. If you choose to forego soaking, you will have to cook them for longer.
  3. Cook the beans: Add beans to a stovetop pressure cooker and add 8 cups of water per pound of beans. Add any seasonings and/or aromatics. Add two tablespoons of oil per pound of beans to prevent the steam vent from clogging. Secure the lid and turn the heat to high. Once it reaches high pressure, turn the heat to low or medium and cook for 5 minutes. Once 5 minutes have passed, remove from heat and let the pressure naturally release until you have zero pressure, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the beans and serve.

How to Dress Up Black-Eyed Peas

Simmer Black-Eyed Peas in Stews and Soups

Sauté chopped onions, celery, and garlic in butter or olive oil, add some ham hocks, bacon, or sausage to build flavor, pour in the black-eyed peas and seasonings, along with broth, water, or canned tomatoes and juices for soups and stews. Simple, savory, satisfying!

Add Black-Eyed Peas to Chilled Salads or Salsas

Chilled black-eyed pea salads are a tasty make-ahead option for potlucks and holiday gatherings. Made in advance and stored in the fridge, the marinated black-eyed peas and veggies only get more and more delicious.

Combine black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained, with chopped vegetables (colorful bell peppers, jalapeños, onions, whatever you like) along with a dressing of vinegar and olive oil and seasonings. Add a little chopped bacon or ham, too, if you like.

How to Store Black-Eyed Peas

Dried black-eyed peas should be stored an in airtight container for up to a year. Cooked black-eyed peas can be stored in the fridge for three to four days.

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