Side dish

Black-eyed peas with bacon and jalapeños

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños | Homesick Texan

There’s a children’s book called “Old Hat New Hat” about a bear who decides he wants a new hat. He goes shopping and tries on quite a few, but whether it’s the color, the shape, or the pattern, there’s always something wrong with his choice. He is persistent, however, so he keeps at it. After much time, he at last finds the hat he seeks. Except the perfect hat for him is the one he was wearing when he arrived at the store. After all his effort, he realizes he had what he wanted all along.

Now, I can relate. The New Year is approaching and since Texans eat black-eyed peas for good fortune at this time, I’ve been trying to think of a fun dish to share. While I’m always fond of my stand-by pot of black-eyed peas, which is made with bacon and jalapeños, sometimes I want to cook up something fresh and new.

For example, in past years I’ve made: queso with black-eyed peas; black-eyed pea soup with collards and ham; smoky black-eyed pea and sausage soup; barbecue baked black-eyed peas; and migas with black-eyed peas and bacon.

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños | Homesick Texan

Because this past year was challenging, the desire to come up with something creative—in order to improve my good fortune—was strong. So after brainstorming a bunch of ideas, I headed to the kitchen and began experimenting with different spices, herbs, meats, and vegetables.

Each pot was definitely unique, but just not right. I’d eat a bowl then go back and try something new. Since I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for, I’d pour more ingredients into the pot thinking it would be an improvement. It never was, but I was persistent.

Then I made a pot of black-eyed peas with red chile peppers, cinnamon, and vinegar. In theory, it was supposed to taste like chorizo but I got heavy handed with the cinnamon and it tasted, well, wrong. (In case you were wondering, cinnamon and black-eyed peas aren’t really made for each other.) So while I was thankful for the ability to be creative, I decided I’d had enough with odd combinations. It was time to return to an old friend I already knew and loved.

All my life, my family has cooked their black-eyed peas with bacon. Some like salt pork or ham hocks in their black-eyed peas, but we’ve always been bacon people. Over the years, I’ve embellished on the original by including garlic and jalapeños, and following my mom’s lead with her pinto beans, I finish it off with a splash of jalapeño pickle juice. But those additions aside, this familiar pot of black-eyed peas is my default whenever I get a craving.

The past year has been educational and I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned. Fortunately, the good memories far outweigh the bad, though some lessons were not easy—for instance, you can be certain I won’t be putting cinnamon in my black-eyed peas anytime soon! But like many things I’m glad I at least gave it a try, as making the effort helped me understand that I already had what I wanted all along.

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños | Homesick Texan

Best wishes to all of you and may your 2016 be filled with much love, joy, and good fortune! Happy New Year!

Would you like more Homesick Texan? Well, I’ve started offering additional recipes for paid subscribers to help with the costs of running the site. While I’m not taking anything away, if you’d like to support Homesick Texan and have access to exclusive, never-seen-before subscriber-only posts, please consider becoming a member; annual subscriptions are as low as $25. Thank you for reading, your consideration, and your support!

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños | Homesick Texan
5 from 4 votes

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 8 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 to 4 jalapeños, depending on how hot you want it, seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño pickle juice or vinegar
  • Pickled jalapeño slices, for garnishing


  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, on medium-low heat cook the bacon while occasionally stirring until some of the fat is rendered and it’s just beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the jalapeños to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add the dried black-eyed peas and stir until everything is well combined.

  3. Pour in the water and add the salt and cayenne. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes then cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and gently simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.

  4. After this time, remove the lid and test the peas to see where they’re at in terms of tenderness. Continue to cook the peas uncovered until they’re your desired texture, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the peas.

  5. Once the peas are tender, stir in the jalapeño pickle juice then taste and add more salt and pickle juice if desired. Serve warm garnished with pickled jalapeños.

  1. Ooh, thank you so much, Lisa! My family rarely eats black-eyed peas, but I recently got a crave and grabbed a bag. I sat down to search a traditional recipe, and boom! Your post appeared in my FB feed. I just checked out your Family Table book,as well, so I'll take these as signs of good luck (and good eatin') for 2016. 🙂

  2. Mamagistra–What a coincidence! I like those signs!

  3. Your pot of beans is simply perfection! It has been my stand by since you posted the recipe. 🙂 Here's hoping the new year is the best ever! 🙂

  4. Rosa–Thank you and happy New Year!

  5. Best of luck to all in eating, reading, and just plain living!!!

  6. Anonymous

    Your last comment on the combination of black-eyes and cinnamon made me giggle. But hey, don't knock it 'til you tried it! I'm actually cooking this dish as I type. I'll have the first bowl for breakfast tomorrow morning. I've a feeling it has the magical ability to cure hangovers… 😉 Happy New Year everyone. Love, Karen

  7. Virginia–Best wishes to you, too!

  8. Karen–It's always good to try new things, that's for sure! Happy New Year and have a wonderful breakfast tomorrow morning!

  9. You make your black-eyed peas almost exactly like I do! And I got your new cook book for Christmas, yay! I hope you have a wonderful New Year, Lisa. 🙂 ~ Kathryn

  10. Kathryn–Have fun cooking from the book and happy New Year!

  11. Yesterday I was planning my menus for the week and I pulled out your first cookbook looking specifically for a black-eyed peas recipe. As usual, you came through, and I will be making these this year! I'm pairing them with your recipe for skillet cornbread. 2015 has been hell. Ok, I got married and had a great honeymoon, but there have been more bumpy spots than highs and now my best friend is passing away. Those of us that are really close to her are far flung, or I'd have them all over to eat black-eyed peas and share memories of our wonderful, hilarious friend.

  12. Cassia–I'm so sorry to hear about your best friend and I sure hope next year is a better one for you.

  13. Lisa, Happy new year, happy cooking! Love your stories & recipes.

  14. Anonymous

    Thank you – I needed a new recipe for black eyed peas for tomorrow! (my other one was just bad) I am also making your blue cheese scalloped potatoes with chipotle and bacon – those are to die for. And I get requests for them all the time. Thank you!

  15. You were brave to try the cinnamon – AND told us how awful it was, thus saving us the trouble of having this experience. It did put me in mind, however of a time my husband decided to make chili all-by-hisself (oh, MY!). He was SO proud when I got home that he'd made it but confused that it didn't taste like mine. Well, it wouldn't since he didn't bother to use my recipe. The kicker was the strange taste came from the Chinese Five Spice powder he used in addition to chili powder. Unlike you, I was never brave enough to try it, though he did and after a bowl or two just threw it all out. Lesson learned – In future, use my recipe! Haa-Haa!

  16. Oh, and we WILL be having black eyed peas, greens, cabbage, ham and cornbread for New Year's – yes we will! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  17. Happy New Year, Lisa. I'll be making your Black-eyed pea and chorizo soup tomorrow. Every time I try to make something different, everybody says to go back to their favorite. This year I may add a little greens to it for health.

  18. Linda–Thank you for reading and happy New Year to you, too!

  19. Anon–You're welcome! Sounds like a mighty fine feast!

  20. Donna–Now that's a first–I've never heard of anyone putting Chinese five spice powder in chili! You were probably wise to avoid eating it. Ha!

  21. Liz–That's one of my favorites! Greens would be a great addition. Enjoy and have a wonderful day!

  22. Happy new year! I made your iron skillet cornbread and black eyed peas but I added more water and seasonings and cooked my greens with the peas for the last 20 minutes. Mmm so good.

  23. Beautifully written, Lisa, as always.

    About black-eyed peas. I read an article that said there are different types and the ones we get are usually not the best. Of course, cooking is often about making the most of what you have, and you provided an excellent recipe.

    The best black-eyed peas I ever ate were the ones your grandparents grew. I wonder if it was the soil or the seeds. Maybe we'll grow them again.

  24. Hands down the best black-eyed peas I have ever cooked/eaten. Will always make them this way. Thank you!

  25. Anonymous

    Black-eyed pea stir-fry was one of my successful kitchen experiments; successful in the sense that results conclusively allowed me to determine it is not a good idea! Mel

  26. I am going to try this recipe finally … although it is extremely tough to find “good” bacon in Kuwait .. by the way, the title of this post makes me smile every time I see it .. “wth”

    All the best,


    • Lisa Fain

      Randy–Best wishes to you in your quest for bacon! And good night–I had no idea that the “i” in with was missing. When I moved to WordPress, a lot of vowels were dropped. Thank you for pointing that out to me!

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