Cajun Black-Eyed Peas

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish…and they’ll bring you good luck, too!

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These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!Growing up, I remember my Mom would always eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  For some reason, I didn’t like black-eyed peas when I was a kid.  I have no idea why.  It’s probably because my Dad didn’t like them…but then again, my Dad doesn’t like most veggies.  Either way, my Mom would eat her black-eyed peas.  My grandfather always ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, too.  It’s just what you did.

According to Southern folklore, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will bring good luck for the coming year.  I posted this Hoppin’ John recipe using black-eyed peas last year, and this year we’re moving a bit further down South and going with these Cajun Black-Eyed Peas.  As with most legends in the South, the black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day thing has roots in the Civil War.  Well, maybe.

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!In late 1864, General Sherman and his Union troops marched from Atlanta to Savannah destroying everything along the way.  (And we wonder why it’s called the War of Northern Aggression…but I digress.)  According to legend, the Union soldiers stole all food crops except for black-eyed peas.  Supposedly the peas weren’t good enough for the soldiers, so they left them behind.  By New Year’s Day in 1865, those black-eyed peas were pretty much all that was left to eat.  The Confederate soldiers made it through the winter, and credited the black-eyed peas with helping them survive.  Is this a true story?  Who knows!  But it sure sounds good, right?

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!In actuality, the good luck legend is probably based on the fact that black-eyed peas hold up well in the winter when other crops are dormant.  Therefore, black-eyed peas are plentiful around New Year’s.  So it just makes sense to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  That’s probably a more accurate story…but the General Sherman story is certainly more interesting!

Either way, I have gotten over my (unfounded) disdain for black-eyed peas, and now we eat them every New Year’s Day, too.  This year I went with a Cajun twist and created these Cajun Black-Eyed Peas.  The holy trinity of Cajun cooking (onions, bell peppers and celery) creates a flavorful base.  Then add some tomatoes and spices.  Simmer, simmer, simmer.  And your Cajun Black Eyed Peas are ready!  And I gotta say that this is one flavorful (and healthy) side dish!

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!So we we look back on 2016 and ahead to 2017, don’t forget to eat some black-eyed peas for good luck!  Oh, and if you want extra luck, toss a penny in the pot while you’re cooking the black-eyed peas.  That’s another Southern tradition, and whoever gets the penny will supposedly have even better luck in the coming year.  (That’s pretty similar to the tradition of putting a baby in the King Cake around Mardi Gras.)  Either way, I hope these Cajun Black-Eyed Peas bring you good luck in the coming year!  Cheers, friends!

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!

Cajun Black-Eyed Peas

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish…and they’ll bring you good luck, too!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 281kcal



  • Using a medium saucepan, add water and black-eyed peas. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the water from the saucepan.
  • Using a large skillet, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, celery, bell peppers and garlic; sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add black-eyed peas, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, salt, mustard and cayenne; stir and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 60 minutes or until peas are soft.
  • Stir in fresh parsley and green onions before serving.

These Cajun Black-Eyed Peas are an easy and healthy side dish...and they'll bring you good luck, too!

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  1. Hi David! You know I love Cajun food, but I gotta be honest…I have tried to like black eyed peas and it just didn’t happen. I think the Southern tradition calls for greens and cornbread as well ? Trust you had a wonderful holiday! I may be ready to eat again by New Year’s Eve! 🙂

    1. You are indeed right, Dorothy. Southern tradition calls for black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread. Some good soul food right there! I understand your aversion to black-eyed peas, though. I never touched them growing up. In fact, my Mom was the only one who would eat them! But now I love ’em. Go figure! 🙂

  2. I like the black-eyed peas story. Stuff like that, whether true or not, is always in some way based on a fact or two. Do these have a liquid or sauce with them or are they serve drained? Methinks a dash or three of Tabasco would be welcomed. I actually have never had them! Look quite tasty to me. Thanks Dave and I hope you guys all enjoyed the Christmas holiday.

    1. Yeah, I agree with you Kevin. I really enjoy the history behind some of these food traditions. Sure, the truth might be somewhere in the middle…but it’s still fun to hear about the history. No liquid in these bad boys, but I could see turning this into a fun soup. And a dash of Tabasco would certainly be welcomed! We did indeed have a great holiday, and I hope you guys are still holiday-ing out there on the West coast. Speaking of the time change, is is Christmas out there yet? 😉

  3. How about adding some andouille or Tasso? We love all things Cajun (hubs went to LSU) and definitely HAVE to have our black eyes on New Years Day!

    1. Hey there, Marla! First of all, Geaux Tigers!! Second of all, andouille or tasso would be an excellent addition to this recipe! We can get andouille up here, but tasso is much harder to find…makes me miss my days in Baton Rouge. 🙂 Happy (early) New Year’s to you and your husband, and thanks so much for stopping by!

      1. Happy New Year, David! Got the peas cooking and oh my gracious! It smells divine! Everyone is excited about this new twist on our old tradition! Off to make some cornbread and andouille!

        1. We did the same thing earlier today, Marla! Well, we didn’t have andouille…but I wish we did. Yum! Hope you and your family had a wonderful New Year’s Day! 🙂

  4. The black-eyed peas story sounds really interesting David. And as you said the black-eyed peas hold up well in the winter when other crops are dormant seems to be an actual story. Anyways we can just go by the words we hear from others and believe on that. BTW the recipes look amazing and I love black eyed peas.

    1. Yeah, I have no idea how accurate that story about the black-eyed peas is, Puja..but it makes sense. Black-eyed peas do hold up well in these cold winter months. So it just makes sense to serve them on New Year’s Day! This is one delicious side dish, and plus it will bring good luck for the new year. Haha! 🙂

  5. I love the black-eyed peas story, In Spain, I don’t know the story but there is a tradition of having lentils, for new year’s, for the same good luck and prosperity reasons! and I try always to have them! How was your Christmas? I hope great!

    1. Interesting! That lentils story is so very similar to black-eyed peas in the southern part of the U.S. I’m guessing it’s for a similar reason, too, since beans hold up well in the cold winter months. No matter the reason, I love a good bean side dish! 🙂 Our Christmas was great over here. We stayed home and enjoyed a nice quiet day by the fireplace. And since Robbie is only just over a year old, we spaced out the presents throughout the day to keep him entertained! (I’m guessing we won’t be able to pull that trick every year…haha!) Hope you guys had fun in France!

  6. Dude – my southern friends are northerners in disguise as this is my first time hearing about the penny-in-the-pot-of-black-eyed-peas dealio! I have so gotta try that one this year! We eat a lot of black-eyed peas round here – and not just on/around New Years day – so this recipe I gotta hold onto! And, speaking of stories, I’m gonna have to borrow that on on how the Confederate soldiers made it through the winter on black-eyed peas for sure! I sure hope you and the rest of the Spiced clan have a wonderful, wonderful New Years eve and Happy and Healthy 2017, my friend!

    1. Hey, that penny is a fun story! (Although, to be fair, I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked my black eyed peas with a penny in the pot. I have, however, inserted a baby into my kind cake, though!) Anyways, this black eyed pea dish is a fun one for New Year’s Day. We tried it out a couple of times, and it makes for one tasty side dish. Plus, it will bring good luck…so that’s a win-win in my book! We have been enjoying a nice, relaxing vacation up here in the far reaches of New York so far. And we still have a few more days to go…yes!! 🙂 Thanks, Shashi. And Happy (early) New Year’s to you and lil Shashi!

  7. Maybe it is a “guy thing”. My mother would make my brother eat at least one pea for good luck. My husband isn’t much better…he would never say let’s have blackeyed peas but will eat them on New Year’s day. I’ve never had a year that didn’t start with them and I like your version. 🙂 May this coming year be a happy, healthy and lucky one for you. 😀

    1. Hah…it must be a guy thing! My Dad would look at that bowl of black-eyed peas like it was something that was about to jump up and grab him. Needless to say, he wouldn’t touch it. And therefore I wouldn’t touch it. But now I’m a big fan of black-eyed peas! Thanks so much, Karen, and I hope you have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Here’s to 2017! 🙂

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