This southern Soul Food black eyed peas recipe comes together with traditional ingredients in one pot for a delicious old school dish that stands the test of time.
And if you enjoy this recipe, you'll love my smoky collard greens, too!
- History of Black Eyed Peas in Soul Food
- Why You'll Love this Recipe
- What You'll Need for this Recipe
- Substitutions & Variations
- How to Make Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Serve
- Are black eyed peas PCOS friendly?
- More Favorite African Diaspora Recipes
- Soul Food Black Eyed Peas
History of Black Eyed Peas in Soul Food
The stewed black eyed pea dish, traditionally eaten with rice, traces back to West African foodways and is prevalent in Caribbean, Latin, and Black American cuisines as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.
This simple yet nutrient rich recipe was a big part of the diet of enslaved African Americans and, later Black freedmen because it was durable, substantial, and inexpensive.
And the black eyed pea itself resembles cowpeas and honey beans from the West African region and Western dishes like Hoppin' John and rice and peas relate directly to dishes like Nigerian ewa riro and Ghanaian waakye.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Simple Ingredients - Keeping to tradition of southern black-eyed pea recipes, this is made with just a few ingredients widely available at grocery stores and farmers' markets. And each one serves a purpose.
Flavorful - Despite the simple ingredient list, these braised beans pack a lot of flavor with layers of spice, savory, smoky, and umami taste.
We love flavor filled Soul Food recipes around here, like my sweet tea pound cake and my grandmother's cornbread dressing with seafood or Aunt Georgia's peach cobbler with pie crust! And don't forget the buttermilk biscuits.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
Black-Eyed Peas should be cleaned, sorted, and soaked before use. I do this step the night before.
Smoked Turkey drums, wings, tails or even necks will add extra protein and smoky flavor to these beans. And because smoked meat takes time to get tender, it works perfectly when stewing black eyed peas.
Spices like paprika and cayenne pepper plus salt, black pepper, and a bay leaf are all you need here to compliment the flavor of the beans and turkey.
Broth or Stock infuses the beans with more flavor versus when you cook them in water. You can use anything from store-bought stock or homemade turkey bone broth.
Check out the recipe card below for full ingredients list, measurements, nutrition facts, and step-by-step instructions!
Substitutions & Variations
Vegan - You can make vegan black eyed peas by using veggie broth and leaving out the smoked turkey. And you can a bit of liquid smoke for replace that smoky flavor.
Cooking Method - You can also make your black eyed peas with a crockpot (slow cooker), pressure cooker, or Instant Pot with varying cook times.
How to Make Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey
Step One: Cover the beans by about two inches of water and soak for at least eight hours.
Step Two: Cook down the onion, garlic, and spices in olive oil.
Pro Tip #1: I recommend soaking the beans before going to bed the night before and they should be ready to go at any point the next day.
Pro Tip #2: Cooking the spices with the aromatics is a technique called "blooming" that better infuses the flavor throughout the finished dish.
Step Three: Add beans, stock or broth, smoked meat, and bay leaf and bring to a boil then simmer for about an hour.
Step Four: Remove the turkey and shred it from the bone into bite-sized pieces.
Step Five: Discard the bay leaf then stir the shredded turkey back into the pot of cooked beans and serve.
Pro Tip #3: Smash some of the beans, if you like, for a more creamy texture.
Pro Tip #4: Save any extra cooking liquid, aka pot liquor, for making soups, gravies, or whatever else you'd typically use a flavorful broth for!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make black eyed peas with smoked turkey up to three days ahead of time if stored properly in the refrigerator.
Soaking is not required but significantly shortens the cooking time so you don't spend all day over a hot stove!
Store black eyed peas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Note that the collagen in the turkey will cause the liquid to congeal and thicken a bit when chilled but it liquefies again once heated.
To freeze cooked black eyed peas, cool them to room temperature then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. They will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
How to Serve
Black eyed peas and rice is a classic Soul Food pairing you'll find in several Black foodways. It works for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
For the traditional Black American new year meal, serve your black eyed peas with braised collard greens and buttermilk cornbread for good luck and prosperity in the coming 365 days.
Are black eyed peas PCOS friendly?
These little beans are high in fiber, which supports blood sugar and weight management and rich in potassium (WebMD), which helps maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces heart disease risk (Healthline). These are both beneficial to people with PCOS.
And black eyed peas are a great source of folate, which supports healthy fetal development for women who are expecting or trying to conceive (Medical News Today).
As a Black woman managing PCOS, I love that my heritage foods can meet my nutritional needs and support my health goals.
Check out more of my favorite PCOS friendly recipes!
More Favorite African Diaspora Recipes
I hope you'll enjoy a steaming bowl of Soul Food black eyed peas with smoked turkey soon and very soon. And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this recipe for later and follow me over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Soul Food Black Eyed Peas
- 1 large bowl for soaking the beans
- 1 knife
- 1 stock pot 4 quarts or larger
- 1 kitchen spoon
- 2 forks or a knife and fork
- 1 pound dried black eyed peas
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 pound smoked turkey drum, tails, wings, neck, etc.
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 bay leaf
- Rinse the beans and sort out any leaves or other impurities. Cover with one to two inches of water and soak overnight.
- Add olive oil to a stock pot over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice onion and press or mince garlic.
- Add onion, paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper to heated olive oil and cook until fragrant and onions are slightly translucent (about 8-10 minutes) then add in garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Drain soaked beans then add to pot with smoked turkey, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for about one hour or until beans are tender. Remove from heat.
- Discard bay leaf and remove turkey from pot. Shred turkey meat from the bone then stir it back into the beans. Serve hot.