Hoppin' John Recipe for New Year's Day/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

This Hoppin’ John recipe is a dish from the American south featuring black-eyed peas, often included in southern food and soul food recipes, traditionally served on New Year’s Day by those angling for good fortune all year long. I make Hoppin’ John every year for this very reason (also, it’s inexpensive, easy, nutritious and satisfying).  There are all kinds of variants (here’s the wikipedia description of Hoppin John), but they all share three features that I think must be a part of the dish or it’s not Hoppin John: black-eyed peas, smokey bacon, and some kind of heat.

I always include onion and I also always include tomato, which is not traditional but I think it gives great acidity and flavor to this bean dish.  This year I threw in some Mangalista guanciale because I could, and some cumin because I felt like it.  I’ll serve it on New Years, with rice (rice is sometimes included in the dish—I like it on the side) and some chopped pickled chillis.

So happy New Year and may it be filled with good fortune, good friends, and good food!

Hoppin’ John Recipe

  • 1 pound blackeyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 large Spanish onions, one peeled and halved through the root, one medium diced
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 bay leaves
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 5 cloves of garlic, or more, smashed with the side of a knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (3 if you like it really hot)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  1. Put the black eyed peas, the halved onion, the carrots and 3 bay leaves in a large pot.  Cover it all with about three inches of water (you’ll need about 2 quarts).  Put the pot over high heat, bring it to a simmer, then turn the burner to medium low and continue to cook until the beans are tender, about 60 to 90 minutes.  Add two or three teaspoons of salt midway through the cooking.  (Add more water if the water level goes below the beans.)  Reserve two cups of the cooking liquid.  Strain the peas, picking out and discarding the onion, carrots and bay leaves.
  2. While the peas are cooking: in a pot big enough to hold the beans cook the bacon over medium low heat  until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned.  Add the medium diced onion and a three fingered pinch of salt.  Cook over until the onion is softened and translucent and beginning to brown, five or ten minutes.  Add the cumin, pepper flakes, and black pepper, turn the burner to medium and stir to combine the seasonings with the onion.  Add the juice from the tomatoes.  Then add the tomatoes crushing them in your hand as if you were furious with them, dashing them, their brains squirting out between your fingers.  (You could instead put them on a cutting board, of course, and roughly chop them, then scrape the tomato and juices into the pan with the onion.)  Add the last bay leaf.  Bring this to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so to reduce and thicken the sauce.
  3. Stir in the black eyed-peas, and cook to heat through.  Add some or all of the reserved bean liquid to keep it juicy (add all of it if you’ll be chilling and reheating it).  Taste.  If it needs something, try a little more salt.  Still need something? Try some fish sauce.  Want it hotter?  Add more pepper flakes.  Too salty?  Oops!  Need to make a half batch with no salt and add it to this one! (Actually I’ve always found the above recipe to be on the money.)
  4. Serve immediately, or if it’s Wednesday and you’re not serving it till Saturday (the case here), cool then chill it in the fridge uncovered, then cover it when it’s cold.  Reheat it slowly so as not to burn the bottom; add some water or some wine if it looks a little dry.
  5. Serve with rice and some crunchy toasted and buttered bread, and garnish with pickled chillis if you have them!

Makes about 2 quarts of beans, which will serve about 15.


49 Wonderful responses to “Hoppin’ John—Recipe for New Year’s Day”

  • David Barber

    Almost identical to mine, but I add about a TBSP brown sugar and any leftover Christmas ham, also!

  • Martha

    Fabulous! Thank you! Can’t wait to crush those tomatoes either. Cooking alone is a great stress reliever, but that tomato crushing process will make it even more so! (Cooking + humor = doesn’t get much better than that! Save for the eating, that is!)

    • Charlie M.

      Celeste, I’m with you! I have seen recipes where the rice is cooked along with the peas, but I’ve had my best success combining the two after the fact.

    • Carol

      I see Wikipedia has a name for your version, Drew – “Hoppin’ Juan,” which substitutes Cuban black beans for black-eyed peas.

  • Sandy Netherton

    We have black-eyed peas every year as well. My dad was from Alabama and having black-eyed peas for good luck on New Years is a tradition I have carried with me. I’ve never cared for rice with my black-eyed peas which has always put me off to what I have considered to be Hoppin John. However, I’m betting your black-eyed peas are delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Skip

    Yours is close to the way my grandmother made it in Savannah. Mine uses diced seeded jalapeños instead of the crushed pepper flakes and I use coins of Cajun (not French) Andouille sausage. One of my favorite holiday dishes.

  • Mantonat

    My parents are Canadian, but we moved to Texas when I was a kid, so my mom attempted to adopt the southern tradition of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, despite the fact that my dad never liked them. Hoppin’ John was not part of our vernacular, so I invented my own black-eyed pea dish:
    Cook black-eyed peas with bay leaves, celery, onion, and black pepper.
    In a seperate pot, simmer carrots, celery, onion and a smoked ham hock in water until the ham hock breaks down. This basically makes a ham broth. Remove the skin and bones but keep any shredded meat.
    Put some of the beans in a bowl, add enough broth to cover the beans, top with some sauteed mustard greens, a poached egg and some of the shredded ham from the hock. I usually grate a little lemon zest over the top too.

    • Allen

      Thank you, sounds fantastic; poached egg, ham hock and lemon zest – brilliant!

  • Andrew

    Do you add the garlic with the diced onion? I see the garlic in the ingredients, but not the directions.

    • grantbob

      I noticed this too… I just added it after the onions were tranlucent. Seemed to work OK..

  • Auntie Allyn

    I’m off to the supermarket to pick up some dried blackeyed peas. My mother was from Texas and believed it was good luck to eat blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day. She always wrapped up and gave me a can of blackeyed peas for Christmas so that I’d have them for New Year’s Day. Blech. Hated ’em, but always heated them up and ate a spoonful so as not to tempt fate! Your recipe looks fabulous, and I only wish my mother were here to share them with me on Saturday!

  • The Woodster

    Hoppin’ John for good luck, add collards or other greens for good fortune. A fellow I knew years ago insisted the black eyed peas were for pennies, the greens for dollars – a little too specific for my tastes. Somewhere or other, saurkraut has also become a New Year’s good luck dish. My New Years menu regularly includes both, along with a good pork roast (roasted atop the ‘kraut, of course – let’s not waste those juices!).

  • The Woodster

    An additional thought – how much of a difference does it make to use canned beans instead of the dried? No, seriously. And I do mean, beyond being able to add flavor to the beans while they cook via the carrot, onion and bay leaves. Working at a supermarket, I’d like to have an answer to pass on to my customers … particularly after we run out of the canned and only have the dried on the shelves!

  • Marcus

    Michael, in case you didn’t know, it might delight you that THE traditional New Years Day meal in The South is black eye peas and hog jowl. Just ask any old timer. Myself, I can’t stand black eyed peas. Too many memories of spending hours pulling and shelling peas I guess…yuk!

    Today at Kroger (in Arkansas) I saw cured and smoked hog jowl; unusual (and I tend to pay attention to what sort of meat/pork products are available aside from the standard fair). I assume its because eating “jowl bacon”, as it was advertised, is even better than regular (uncured/unsmoked)…? I guess it sells well coming into New Years Day.

    In any case, happy new years to everyone. I’ll be enjoying the next year in part because of one of my Christmas gifts, Ratio.

  • Allen

    Todays must do list:
    1. Pickle serrano peppers
    2. P/U black eyed peas
    3. Thaw guanciale
    4. Break out the slow cooker, I’ll be to tanked to cook on new years day.
    Happy new year!

  • Hunter

    In northern maine\canada french tradition is pea soup for luck on new years using the ham bone from christmas (I prefer the whole yellow peas). Since ive started the tradition myself i have met my future wife, bought a home, got married. And now am about to have first child.

  • Joellaco

    I like to soak the dry peas overnight in salted water, makes the insides creamier. Otherwise this is basically a staple at my house for the New Year. There is an old Texan saying “peas for small change, long greens for greenbacks” to ensure prosperity in the coming year. So collards, mustards or cabbage works. It’s all good.

    Happy New Year everyone.

  • KristineB

    We always do a jigg’s dinner New Years day. I’m trying to decide if this will fit in as a side. I have some blacked-eyed peas and some of Michael’s pickled chillis in the fridge. I think it will.

  • Celia

    Very close to my recipe, except that I use ham hocks instead of bacon, and I’ve never added tomatoes! And rice (cooked separately and added to each bowl) is absolutely essential! I will be making a double batch for New Year’s day, then freezing it in small batches to enjoy through the winter. Yum!

  • Todd

    I am more a lurker than a commentor, but I am making this right now for Saturday. Just finished the sauce, and I am sending some to the Mayo Clinic as I think it may cure any and all diseases! Now I have 2 problems: 1) The peas need to hurry up and cook so I have something to mix them with. 2) How will i avoid eating them before my guests arrive

    MUCH thanks Michael!

  • Karin

    Fortunate to have access to fresh Black-eyed peas here in VA. I have included them with my German pork dinner, ever since I married into a southern family. They cook much more quickly and don’t require a lot of flavor boosting.

  • Edward in Alabama

    I grew up in Alabama and neither of my grandmothers — both of whom were great traditional Southern cooks — ever made hoppin’ john. Of course it was and is unthinkable to go into a new year without pork, blackeyed peas, greens, and cornbread. I was into my 30s before I ever had hoppin’ john — served to me by a northerner who insisted it was an indispensible southern tradition. I have never cooked it myself but had decided to serve it this year even before I saw Ruhlman’s recipe which is fairly close to what I’m cooking.

    Happy New Year.

  • Abigail Blake

    Those who don’t love the black-eyed peas might want to try cowpeas, lady peas, or cream peas,though they might be hard to find outside the South. They’re a little smaller, sweeter and creamier than the black-eyed peas and they’re my favorite for Hoppin’ John. Worth searching out.

  • Luanne Iwan

    I’ll be trying this for sure!
    -when you say bacon in 1/4″ pieces, I’m using homecured bacon, should I be going for a small dice?
    -I find that dipping my kitchen shears into the can of tomatoes and making a bunch of cuts with the scissors does a great job of breaking them into reasonable pieces, and doesn’t mess up the cutting board.

  • crossman163

    Great recipe! I cooked up a batch today with the addition of a green pepper I had on hand.

  • Luanne Iwan

    Just finished making this…wow! Thank you again for another winning recipe!

  • Jon

    Spectacularly good recipe. Thank you Ruhlman. We made it this afternoon damn it is good.

  • Auntie Allyn

    Two thumbs up! Absolutely delicious, and a fine way to start a new year. This will now become a New Year’s Day staple for me.

  • Emily

    I made this today, but used the hambone leftover from Christmas because I didn’t have any bacon (shocking!). Just put in the pot with the peas while they were cooking. It was delicious with the cornmeal waffles my husband makes and a few splashes of Frank’s Red Hot just before eating. YUM.

  • Jane

    We had this tonight and enjoyed it very much (though spicy!). Will add this to the yearly list. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Ed

    We had this last night too–excellent. Especially with the home-cured guanciale from *Charcuterie.* Great way to start the New Year.

  • chris

    Great recipe – thanks! I added elk sausage and served New Year’s Day – great oooh’s and aaah’s from our guests. Happy New Year!

  • mrbres

    also used guanciale, which imparted a really nice mellow sweetness. Thanks!

  • Derek

    Made Hoppin John for New Years Day meal. Fabulous & easy. My kids liked it way better than plain ole black eyed peas!

    My brioche flopped though. It must have been the measuring vs weighing. I bought a kitchen scale and will try again.

    P.S. reading A return to Cooking right now. A wonderful cookbook.

  • thewesty

    This was great! I made two batches. One of which was vegetarian with mushrooms for texture and butter for fat. I’ve never had a better black eyed pea recipe. Mashing the canned tomatoes with my bare hands was too fun. Ahhhh simple things….


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