Easily prepare Southern-style black eyed peas quicker! Hearty Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas develop a rich, seasoned flavor and tender texture all the while saving you time and effort. The prep is simple - no need to pre-soak the peas.
If there's a recipe on this site (out of 500+!) that never fails to wow me, it's Instant Pot collard greens. With bold and tangy Southern-style seasonings, the pressure cooker shaves hours off of the recipe time and produces perfectly tender greens in five minutes of cook time. Five minutes!
While dried black eyed peas require more than five minutes of cooking, they benefit similarly in a big way when given the Instant Pot treatment.
Black eyed peas have an earthy, nutty-ish flavor not dissimilar to lentils or split peas. This flavor plays very nicely with smoky elements, so I amplified that with several support ingredients: bacon, smoky spices, and a smoked ham hock.
What results are just-right black eyed peas cooked in an extra flavorful and thickened broth for a filling side dish made quicker and easier in the Instant Pot.
Why You'll Love Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas
- They save a bunch of time. Dried black eyed peas don't need to pre-soak, and soften to perfectly tender with just 25 minutes of pressure cook time.
- The flavor. These Instant Pot black eyed peas cook in a smoky, seasoned sauce that takes this fairly basic legume over the top!
- Black eyed peas are nutritious. They are good sources of protein, fiber, iron and other nutrients.
- They may bring good luck. According to Southern tradition, anyway. Black eyed peas are often eaten on New Year's Day to usher in good fortune with the new year.
- Black Eyed Peas: Dried black eyed peas don't need to soak before cooking. Look through them to discard any foreign material or misshapen or shriveled peas and give them a rinse under cool water.
- Bacon: A thick-cut variety is extra nice, but any type is fine.
- Onion & Bell Pepper: These are diced.
- Carrots & Celery: These are shredded. I love shredding these in this recipe as they disappear during pressure cooking, instead both thickening and flavoring the broth/sauce. The carrots especially add a nice hint of sweetness to balance the flavor.
- Garlic: Freshly cloves are preferred over jarred minced garlic.
- Tomato Paste: Really convenient to have on hand if you freeze tomato paste.
- Spices: This blend of pantry staples serves to amplify the smokiness and season a legume that can lean bland on its own. Both smoked and regular paprika are used, along with more garlic (powder), oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper.
- Chicken Broth: Reduced- or low-sodium chicken stock or broth is recommended.
- Vinegar: This adds a nice punch to collard greens cooking liquid, but is more subtle here. Red wine vinegar is my preference.
- Smoked Ham Hock: Excellent in Instant Pot split pea soup, this provides a TON of flavor when pressure cooked with black eyed peas. We want that smoky flavor, so don't use raw hocks.
- Cook the bacon. Add a little olive oil to the Instant Pot and cook the chopped bacon for 5 minutes.
- Sauté the vegetables and season. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots to the bacon and cook for 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then add the tomato paste and dry seasonings. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to "caramelize" the tomato paste and have it develop a deeper flavor.
- Add all the ingredients. Deglaze the pot fully with some of the broth, then pour in the rest along with the rinsed black eyed peas, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, and the smoked ham hock.
- Pressure cook. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15-20 minutes before flipping the valve to release all remaining pressure.
- Zhush and serve. Fish out and discard the two bay leaves, then remove the smoked ham hock to a cutting board. Slice the pork away from the bone and chop it into small pieces. Stir the meat back into the black eyed peas, then add more salt if needed to taste before serving.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don't skip deglazing. Leaving burnt bits stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot may cause the "burn" alarm to trigger during cooking, as the temperature is read at the bottom of the pot. Deglaze the bottom fully before pressure cooking.
- Adjust the spice level to taste. As written, the level of spice here is very, very mild. The quarter-teaspoon of crushed red pepper acts more like a seasoning than something to add spice. I've tested this recipe with a half-teaspoon and liked the extra zippiness it added, too. Increase it even more if you like the heat, add ground cayenne, or stir in your favorite hot sauce for serving.
- Want it thicker? No problem. These black eyed peas cook in a broth-based liquid that thickens nicely into a sauce after pressure cooking. That said, if after cooking you'd like your peas to be thicker, set the Instant Pot to the Sauté function and cook until it reaches your preferred consistency (be sure to stir often).
Frequently Asked Questions
I wouldn't. The recipe cook time here was determined assuming the use of dried black eyed peas. Canned and frozen black eyed peas are already cooked, and would likely mush up and fall apart if substituted into this recipe.
I've tested these peas just using a smoked ham hock and found them to be very tasty. Ham hocks don't have much meat (we're really after the flavor derived from the tissues and bone), so adding bacon makes up for it by adding the meaty element. While I prefer using both, you can make this recipe and enjoy it without.
You do not need to soak black eyed peas for this recipe. Soaking dried black eyed peas is helpful for traditional stovetop cooking methods, as it cuts down how long they take to become tender. Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot is quick enough where this step isn't necessary.
Recipes for Good Luck in the New Year
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Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas
- 1 pound dried black eyed peas sorted and rinsed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 slices uncooked thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 large celery ribs shredded
- 2 large carrots peeled and shredded
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt more to taste when serving
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 roughly 8-10-ounce smoked ham hock
- Sort through the black eyed peas and remove and discard any rocks, foreign material, or peas that look overly wrinkled, discolored, or misshapen. Rinse the sorted black eyed peas in cool water and set them aside for now.
- Set the Instant Pot to "Sauté" and pour in the olive oil. Once heated, add the chopped bacon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring it up a few times throughout. Then add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are becoming softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato paste and scatter in the dried seasonings: smoked paprika, paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir everything up and work the tomato paste into the vegetables as best you can. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Deglaze the Instant Pot by pouring in roughly one-third cup of the broth and use a wooden utensil to scrape up any stuck-on browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Pour in the rest of the broth, then add the red wine vinegar and bay leaves. Shut off the "Sauté" function.
- Add the rinsed black eyed peas and stir well. Nestle the smoked ham hock into the center of the pot so it's as submerged as possible.
- Close and lock the lid into place and ensure the valve is set to "sealing". Set the Instant Pot to cook for 25 minutes on manual high pressure.
- Once the cook time has completed, let the pressure release naturally for 15-20 minutes (it doesn't need to be precise). At that time carefully turn the valve to "venting" to release all remaining pressure. Once the float valve goes down and it is safe to do so, remove the lid.
- Find and discard the two bay leaves, then remove the ham hock to a cutting board. Slice off the meat from the bone and chop into small bits before adding the pork back to the Instant Pot. Give the peas a big stir and add more salt, to taste, before serving.
- Instant Pot Capacity - This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot. It is likely too large as written for the 3-quart Mini.
- Inactive Time - This is an estimate for the Instant Pot to both come up to and release pressure.
- Texture - If you'd like an extra thick consistency, set the Instant Pot to the Sauté function at the very end of the recipe until it reaches your preferred consistency. Keep in mind leftover portions will thicken up even more as they're refrigerated.
- Storage - Store cooked black eyed peas in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezing - Once cooled, freeze black eyed peas in an air-tight container for up to 3 months for the best flavor.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer