Hoppin’ John – Savory, smokey, a bit spicy, and hearty black-eyed pea stew that will surely warm your soul any day of the year. A Southern classic soul food recipe that is super easy to make and richly flavored with Creole Seasoning and herbs. Pair it with rice and cornbread for a sumptuous comforting dinner!
My craving for this classic soul food favorite, Hoppin’ John, knows no weather or season. I just have to have them at least once a week! Being a huuuuge legume fan, anything beans and peas are always on my watch list. Good thing the whole family loves them, too.
Though this may be a traditional New Year dish in the South, I CAN assure you that it’s also perfect to enjoy any time of the year. So, if you’re looking for a dish to satisfy your soul food craving, this one fits the bill.
Come and join me in my Hoppin’ John craze and stuff yourself with this protein-packed wholesome black-eyed peas stew. 😉
What is Hoppin John?
Also known as Carolina peas and rice, Hoppin’ John is a dish served in the Southern part of the U.S. It commonly features black-eyed peas, onions, bacon, smoked meat, and spices.
And with the black-eyed peas’ resemblance to pennies or coins, Southerners prepare this dish on New Year’s Day to bring in prosperity and good luck for the rest of the year.
Just like any other popular dish, this black-eyed peas and rice recipe also have other variations. Some cook the peas and rice in one pot, while others cook them separately. But one thing is sure, it’s a classic rich bean dish that pairs perfectly with Collard Greens and Southern Cornbread
Hoppin John Ingredients
FEEL FREE to personalize this recipe to suit your liking. But if it’s your first time making this, I suggest you stick to this first so you can appreciate the medley of flavors used in this easy weeknight dinner.
- Dried Black-Eyed Peas – Aside from being creamy and naturally delicious, they are also extremely nutritious. High in protein and fiber that are good for our digestive health and aid in weight loss. What’s not to love? You can use canned ones if you’re short in time. Lima beans, pinto beans, cranberry beans, and navy beans are also good substitutes for black-eyed peas.
- Bacon – Bacon, my love! That addictive rich smokey bacony flavor is a really great addition to this easy hoppin’ john recipe. If you want a vegan version or just want to skip the meat, just replace it with smoked paprika and that will do the trick.
- Smoked Turkey or Ham Hock – You can’t go wrong with adding more proteins to this comforting black-eyed peas soup. Plus you’ll love the added rich meaty flavors. Just omit, along with bacon, if you want to make it completely vegetarian.
- Cooked Rice – Carbs on carbs! Why not? Cooked rice is the best pairing for this sumptuous Immaculatebites Hoppin’ John Recipe.
Herbs and Seasonings
- Onion and Garlic – I call them the wonder sauteing duo. The sweet carameralized onions and garlicky aroma make any dish savory and flavorful. Take your time sauteing them to fully release all their wonderful flavors and aroma. Check out How to Cut Onions and How to Mince Garlic.
- Celery – Both the leaves and stalks are edible and a nice addition to scrumptious dishes like soup, stews, and salad.
- Thyme and Bay leaves – Their aromatic minty, earthy, and herby flavors add another layer of deliciousness to this black-eyed peas recipe.
- Chicken Broth or Water – The concentrated chicken flavor gets absorbed by these lucky black-eyed beans as they cook. I suggest using the low-sodium chicken broth for a healthier version. And for vegan, you may use water or vegetable stock instead.
- Creole Seasoning – Check out my HOMEMADE CREOLE SEASONING HERE; it is truly a must-have in your spice cabinet!
- Salt and Pepper – Basic ingredients yet deliver full-packed flavors. Without these two seasonings, everything will taste boring and bland.
- Green Onions – Don’t forget to sprinkle some chopped green onions for a wonderful finish! Click my guide here on How to Cut Green Onions.
See how short the list is? That’s why I make it too often whenever I want wholesome soul-satisfying food on a cold L.A. night.
- Crockpot Hoppin’ John – Busy day? Dump everything in your crockpot and let it do all the cooking. It should take about 9-10 hours on low, and about 5-6 hours on High.
- Instant Pot Black-eyed Peas – Forgot to soak the black-eyed peas? Instant pot to the rescue!
- Vegan – Replace bacon, turkey, and ham hocks with more greens like collard greens or spinach for a healthier vegan version. You can also try adding kale, Swiss chard, or mustard greens.
- Cheese – Say Cheese! The added cheesy goodness will surely put a smile on your face. You can add cheese like sharp cheddar for that rich cheesy flavor or mozzarella for gooey cheesy madness.
- Chili Peppers – Feeling adventurous? Challenge your tongue with different spicy levels from Habanero, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, or Serrano Peppers. Ooh! Smokin’!
Make-Ahead and Storage Instruction
- Let it cool completely before transferring to a clean airtight container or freezer-safe ziplock bags.
- Refrigerate – it can be refrigerated for about 4 days.
- Freezer – I suggest dividing them and pack them individually in small portions and freeze them for about a month.
- Thaw frozen hoppin’ john overnight inside the fridge.
- Stove – Heat on medium-low, uncovered, and occasionally stir to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pan.
- Microwave – In a microwave-safe dish, heat on medium power for about 3-4 minutes or until heated through. Occasionally stir at 30 seconds intervals.
Pro Tip: Add a splash of chicken broth or water if it becomes too thick when reheating.
Hoppin’ John is basically made with black-eyed peas. You can also call it black-eyed peas stew or black-eyed pea soup.
Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is being served to start on New Year’s Eve until the rest of the New Year’s Day. The leftover Hopppin’ John eaten on the next days is called Skippin’ Jenny. 😉
As a tradition, Southerners add pennies and dimes in the pot of Hoppin’ John just before serving for luck and prosperity. The one who gets the most number of coins in their bowl is believed to receive the best luck for the New Year.
What to Eat with Hoppin’ John
More Traditional Southern Dishes
How To Make Hoppin John
Cooking Bacon and Smoked Ham or Turkey
- Soak the beans – Rinse dry black-eyed peas. Add beans to a large pot covering with 3-4 inches of cold water. Cover and let sit for about 2-3 hours. (Photo 1)
- Cook bacon, ham, and smoked turkey until crispy – In a large heavy sauté pan, saute chopped bacon until brown and crispy about 5-6 minutes. Then add the smoked ham, saute for about 2-3 more minutes. (Photos 2-4)
Sauteing with Black-Eyed Peas
- Saute – Throw in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until the onions are wilted and aromatic. (Photos 5-6)
- Then pour in the chicken broth or water. (Photo 7)
- Add the beans -Drain the soaked beans, rinse, and place the beans in the pot. (Photo 8)
Let it Boil and Simmer
- Season – with Creole seasoning and salt to taste.
- Simmer – Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or more while stirring occasionally, or until beans are tender and slightly thickened to your desire. Add more stock or water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. The texture of the beans should be thick, somewhat creamy but not watery. (Photos 9-10)
- Adjust for seasonings – Remove the bay leaves. Taste and adjust for seasonings with pepper, Creole seasoning, and salt if needed.
- Serve – over cooked rice and garnish with green onions.
Watch How To Make It
- 1 pound (453grams) black-eyed peas
- 4 -5 thick bacon slices , chopped
- 2 cups smoked turkey or smoked ham hock , chopped
- 1 large onion , diced (about 1 ½ cups )
- 1 stalk celery , diced (about ½ cup diced)
- 1 (large ) tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons (2 g) fresh thyme , minced
- 1-2 bay Leaves
- 6-7 cups (1.5 – 1.7 L) chicken broth or water
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) Creole seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups rice , cooked rice to serve
- green onions for garnishing
- Rinse dry black-eyed pea beans. Add beans to a large pot covering with 3-4 inches of cold water. Cover and let sit for about 2-3 hours.
- In a large heavy sauté pan, saute chopped bacon until brown and crispy about 5-6 minutes. Then add smoked ham, saute for about 2-3 more minutes.
- Throw in the onions, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until onions are wilted and aromatic.
- Then pour in the chicken broth or water.
- Drain the soaked beans, rinse, and place the beans in the pot. Season with Creole seasoning and salt to taste. Mix and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or more while stirring occasionally, or until beans are tender and slightly thickened to your desire.
- Add more stock or water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. The texture of the beans should be thick, somewhat creamy but not watery.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Taste and adjust for seasonings with pepper, Creole seasoning, and salt if needed. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onions
Tips & Notes:
- Soak and brine the beans in cold water, with 3 tablespoons of salt, for at least 3-4 hours before cooking. This is to soften the beans quickly and add more flavor.
- Make it completely vegan by omitting chicken stock, bacon, ham, or turkey.
- Spice it up with cayenne, chili flakes, or chili powder. Or more intense fiery peppers like Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, and Serrano.
- Boil and simmer the beans, uncovered. This will result in a more flavorful and thick Hoppin’ John stew.
- Turn it into Hoppin’ John soup by adding more broth or water. A perfect comforting soup for cold weather.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.