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In this recipe, black-eyed peas get a wonderful smoky flavor from slab bacon. If you skip it for a vegetarian version, boost the flavor by doubling the garlic, adding a bay leaf, substituting vegetable stock for the water and adding a dash of smoked paprika for a slightly smoky taste.

EatingWell.com, February 2021


Credit: Jerrelle Guy

Recipe Summary

20 mins
5 hrs 5 mins

This article is part of our series, Migration Meals: How African American Food Transformed the Taste of America. During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans left the South and settled in the rest of the United States, bringing rich culinary traditions with them—sweet potato pie, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, barbecue and so much more.  


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Pick over black-eyed peas to remove any stones. Place the peas in a large bowl with cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain.

  • Fry bacon in a large pot over medium heat until the fat is rendered. When the bacon is crisp, add garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, thyme, salt, pepper and the soaked peas; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring once or twice, until tender, about 45 minutes. Serve hot with cornbread, rice or both.

To make ahead

Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup
333 calories; fat 9g; cholesterol 13mg; sodium 526mg; carbohydrates 46g; dietary fiber 8g; protein 20g; sugars 5g; niacin equivalents 2mg; saturated fat 3g; vitamin a iu 52IU.