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Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are a Southern tradition known to bring good fortune. My Instant Pot black eyed peas are pressure-cooked to perfection to make tender beans brimming with smoky and spicy flavors that will leave you feeling lucky.

Instant Pot black eyed peas in a bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Create a tasty and affordable dish using simple ingredients.
  • Enjoy these savory black-eyed peas as-is with hearty cornbread, or serve them as a side dish to round out your favorite entree.

What are Black Eyed Peas?

Black-eyed peas, also known as cowpeas, belong to the bean family. The beans are small, creamy-white with a black spot resembling an eye, hence the name ‘black-eyed peas.’ Despite the name, black-eyed peas are not peas but beans, similar to Jamaican rice and peas.

The History of Black Eyed Peas or Hoppin’ John

Black-eyed peas, also called Hoppin’ John, can be traced back to West Africa. The classic Southern dish originates from enslaved Africans. These resilient women and men, forcefully brought to the American South, preserved their food culture by planting and cooking peas to make traditional soups and stews.

Today in the United States, black-eyed peas continue as a staple of Gullah Geechee and Southern cuisine, often eaten on New Year’s Day as a symbol of luck and good fortune for the coming year. More importantly, the dish celebrates the courage and perseverance of those who cooked and provided for one another amid tragic circumstances. They chose to remember their roots through the meals they prepared using the simple ingredients available to them.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Black-Eyed Peas: I use dry black-eyed peas, but you can use canned black-eyed peas if you reduce the cooking time.
  • Olive Oil: Saute the vegetables in olive oil.
  • Vegetables: Cook the peas with vegetables like yellow onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and tomato. 
  • Jalapeño: Jalapeño chiles are a great addition to the recipe and provide the perfect amount of heat.
  • Tomato Paste: A spoonful of tomato paste intensifies the flavor. Bloom the paste first by sautéing it before adding the other ingredients.
  • Spices: Add flavor to the vegan black-eyed peas using cayenne, smoked paprika, and Kosher salt for seasoning.
  • Vegetable Broth: I like using high-quality vegetable broth for this recipe. I usually make mine from home using vegetable scraps and herbs from my kitchen. If you’re in a hurry, combine warm water and Vegetable Better than Bouillon or purchase store-bought vegetable broth. 
  • Liquid Smoke: Since I don’t cook the beans with meat, I create a smoky flavor by adding a few taps of liquid smoke
  • Bay Leaves: Enhance the flavor the peas with a bay leaf. 

Additions and Substitutions

  • Replace the vegetables in the recipes with cleaned and chopped collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, or okra.
  • Increase the heat by flavoring the dish with Cajun seasoning or blackened seasoning.
  • Substitute the black-eyed peas with black beans.

How to Make Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Rinse peas until the water runs clear. Cover them with fresh water and soak them overnight.

Step 2: Drain and rinse the peas, and set them aside; warm oil in an Instant Pot in saute mode.

Add onions and bell peppers, and cook until the onions become translucent and soften, for about 10 minutes.

Onions and bell pepper in the Instant Pot.

Step 3: Stir in the garlic and jalapeños; cook for 3 minutes.

Then, add the kosher salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and tomato paste; saute until it becomes aromatic, for 30 seconds.

Spices and tomato paste added to the vegetables.

Step 4: Deglaze the pot with crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Add liquid smoke, bay leaves, the thyme sprig, and the reserved peas. Then, give the mixture a quick stir.

Vegetable broth added to the peas.

Step 5: Bring the mixture to a boil in saute mode. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 15 minutes with a 10-minute natural release. Remove the foam from the top layer and enjoy!

The ingredients for the black eyed peas in the Instant Pot.

Expert Tips

  • Soak the dry peas in water overnight for a shorter cooking time. Skip this step if using canned black-eyed peas.
  • The amount of salt will depend on the amount of sodium in the vegetable broth you use. I recommend lightly seasoning in the beginning and tasting as you go.
  • To prevent the peas from sticking to the bottom or burning, avoid overfilling the Instant Pot.
  • After cooking, let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes before a quick release; this helps prevent the peas from becoming mushy.

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these Southern recipes!  

Instant Pot black eyed peas in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Black-eyed peas taste even better as leftovers the next day. Store them in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
  • Freeze: Let the dish cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Instant Pot black eyed peas freeze for up to 6 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the black eyed peas in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat: Warm the leftovers in the microwave or stovetop, and enjoy! If the dish thickens once chilled, stir in a small amount of vegetable broth before warming it up.
  • Repurpose: Use the black eyed peas to fill shepherd’s pie or puree them to make homemade veggie burgers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use canned black-eyed peas?

Yes, but since they’re ready to go out of the can, reduce the cooking time in the Instant Pot to 8 minutes.

Do I need to soak black-eyed peas before cooking?

I prefer soaking the peas to reduce the cooking time. However, it’s not necessary if you want to skip that step.

Why do you put a penny in black-eyed peas?

This tradition is a little hard for me to get behind, putting a coin in my food and all, but I love the idea!

Southerners add a penny or dime to the pot, and the person who discovers the coin in their bowl is said to have the best luck. Collard greens are often added to black-eyed peas because green represents financial prosperity.

Can I make this recipe on the stovetop?

1. Rinse the peas until the water runs clear. Cover them with fresh water and soak them overnight.
2. Drain and rinse the peas and set them aside. Then, warm the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers, and cook until the onions become translucent and soften, for about 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic and jalapeños. Cook for 3 minutes. Then, add the tomato paste and saute for 30 seconds. 
4. Deglaze the pot with crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Add liquid smoke, bay leaves, and the reserved peas. 
5. Stir the ingredients and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 45 minutes.
6. Remove the froth from the top layer, serve, and enjoy!

Can I add meat?

My Instant Pot black eyed peas recipe is vegan and kosher, but feel free to add ham bone, turkey wings (thank you Thanksgiving leftovers), bacon, or smoked sausage if you prefer.

Saute the meat alongside the onions and bell peppers and follow the recipe accordingly. If you’re using a large ham or ham hock, you will need to increase the cooking time.

More Instant Pot Recipes:

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Instant Pot black eyed peas in a bowl.

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas

Tressa Jamil
Black-eyed peas are a Southern tradition known to bring good fortune, and Instant Pot black eyed peas are brimming with smoky and spicy flavors that will leave you feeling lucky.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes
Soaking Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 47 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Bowls
Calories 137 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 1 pound black eyed peas, dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, 14-ounces
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
Instructions
 
  • Rinse peas until the water runs clear. Cover them with fresh water and soak them overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the peas, and set them aside; warm oil in an Instant Pot in saute mode. Add onions and bell peppers, and cook until the onions become translucent and soften, for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and jalapeños; cook for 3 minutes. Then, add the kosher salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and tomato paste; saute until it becomes aromatic, for 30 seconds.
  • Deglaze the pot with crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Add liquid smoke, bay leaves, the thyme sprig, and the reserved peas. Then, give the mixture a quick stir.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil in saute mode. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 15 minutes with a 10-minute natural release. Remove the foam from the top layer and enjoy!
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • Soak the dry peas in water overnight for a shorter cooking time. Skip this step if using canned black-eyed peas.
  • The amount of salt will depend on the amount of sodium in the vegetable broth you use. I recommend lightly seasoning in the beginning and tasting as you go.
  • To prevent the peas from sticking to the bottom or burning, avoid overfilling the Instant Pot.
  • After cooking, let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes before a quick release; this helps prevent the peas from becoming mushy.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 137 kcal | Carbohydrates: 21 g | Protein: 6 g | Fat: 4 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g | Sodium: 997 mg | Potassium: 482 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 7 g | Vitamin A: 846 IU | Vitamin C: 20 mg | Calcium: 33 mg | Iron: 2 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating