How to Prepare and Season Purple Hull Peas from the South

Recipe: Click Here to Print

Purple hull peas are a culinary gem of the South, and achieving a delicious flavor requires little more than the right cooking method and seasonings. The South's go-to dish is a breeze to prepare and tastes amazing every time.

Blackeyed, Cream, Zipper, Crowder, and Lady Peas can all benefit from the same seasonings and preparation methods.

Find out when to buy them, how to keep them fresh, how much is in a bushel, and how to season and cook with purple hull peas by reading on!

Purple hull peas in white bowl.

Even when prepared simply, purple hulls are incredibly tasty. Unlike its close relative, the black-eyed pea, this bean has a smoother texture and milder flavor.

Try to get your hands on some purple hulls whenever you can and store them for later.

Freshly sliced tomatoes and warm cornbread should also be included. In the South, a plate of peas and cornbread is considered a complete meal.

Jump to:

As to why this dish is so delicious

  • Quick and simple, requiring few resources.
  • Wonderful as a main course or side dish, especially when paired with sliced tomato and warm cornbread.
  • Pure, natural, and beneficial to your health

These are the things you'll require:

When in doubt, keep it simple. Just about any variety of Southern pea can be made tasty with some simple seasonings.

Visual ingredient list After mastering the seasoning and cooking of purple hull peas, you'll be able to apply your newfound knowledge to any kind of pea with the same delicious results.

Bacon, onion powder, garlic powder, chicken stock (or water), salt, and pepper for two servings oh ...and a side of peas

The recipe is as follows:

Traditional Southern pea seasonings include fried bacon, smoked ham hock, or smoked turkey leg.  

  • Cook the bacon in a large stockpot; you can remove the pieces or leave them in, but don't drain the grease; add the ham hock and the rest of the ingredients after the bacon is cooked.
  • Bring the peas, water/broth, onion, and garlic powder to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • The heat should be turned down low and covered while cooking.
  • Add salt and pepper as a final seasoning.

In contrast to black-eyed susans, purple hulls

Peas of the black-eyed and purple hull varieties are related, and both go by the names "cow" and "field." While black eyes are white with a dark black "eye," purple hulls are slightly greener in color and have a faint pink ring around their purple "eye."

There are many types, and their names can vary depending on where in the world you happen to be. Pea crops have interbred over the years, so it's not unusual to find more than one kind grown and served together in the South.

Black-eyes are whiter and grainier than reds, and both are delicious. A few people think they lack the flavor of their more popular pink-eyed, purple-fleshed relative.

Purple hull peas are a lighter shade of green than black-eyed peas and have a smoother, "cream" pea consistency.

Although delicious, they are only in season during the summer. If you want to enjoy them all year long, you should buy a bushel and freeze them.

Purple hull peas in pink colander

Proven Methods:


To add flavor and salt to their dishes, Southern cooks often drop a smoked ham hock, bacon, fatback, or ham bone into the water or broth they're using.

Put in some salt, pepper, and garlic and/or onion powder and let the food's natural flavor shine through.


You can use either water or chicken, beef, or vegetable stock. The purple hull peas need to be submerged in liquid by about 2 inches.

Spice blends that are suitable for vegetarians

Vegans and vegetarians can add more flavor by cooking them in a seasoned vegetable broth with sauteed onion, celery, and bell pepper (known as "The Holy Trinity" in the South). A "smoky-meat flavor" is achieved without the use of actual meat.

Using a stovetop to prepare raw peas

If you get lucky and find yourself in possession of fresh ones, preparation is a breeze. While most farmers now use machines to remove the hulls from their produce, if yours are still intact, you'll need to remove the hulls and then wash and sort them.  

Technique Utilizing a Stove Top

The Process of Cleaning Out a Mussel

Combine them with the meat of your choice (bacon, ham hock, fatback, ham), onions, garlic, and herbs in a large stockpot.

Water or chicken broth should be added to the stockpot and brought to a boil. (Don't worry if foam forms in the beginning of the cooking process. All that's happening is that the peas' water-soluble proteins are leaking out. It will seep back into the pot whether you scoop it off or leave it. )

Make sure to check the liquid level and add more if necessary, then cover and cook on low for 1.5-2 hours.

Add some salt, pepper, and garlic powder or onion powder.

To Prepare Food Using a Slow Cooker

Put everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 5 or 6 hours. Frequently verify the water level.

Utilizing an Instant Pot

Add 2 12 cups of water or broth, fresh peas, and seasonings to an instant pot. Prepare for 20 minutes of manual time; release steam. about 40 minutes total time

How to Prepare Frozen Peas

Frozen Southern peas can be prepared and seasoned in the same manner as fresh ones, with the exception that they should be rinsed to remove ice crystals before being added to the stockpot.



Peas, both fresh and frozen, can be kept in the fridge for up to three days if stored in an airtight container.

Peas: To Be Frozen In Their Raw State Before Being Put Into The Oven

When purchasing fresh, shelled peas for the purpose of freezing, it is recommended that you first blanch them.

  • Peas should be washed and a pot of water should be brought to a boil.
  • Put in boiling water for 2 minutes, then a bowl of ice water until they are no longer hot.
  • Soak them in cold water until the water runs clear, then drain and store in plastic bags with no more than 2 inches of headspace.
  • Compress the bag, seal it, date it, and store it in the freezer.
  • You can keep it for up to six months in storage.

Cooking and seasoning variations

You can play around with different seasonings and preparation methods once you have mastered the basic technique of cooking and seasoning Southern purple hulls.

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Use water or vegetable broth and flavor it with Liquid Smoke® to mimic the taste of meat.
  • Then, either fresh or frozen okra can be added.

Many cooks in the South use okra in place of or in addition to the purple hulls of Southern peas because the two go so well together.

Reheat the peas to a boil.

Add okra, either whole or chopped, whether it's fresh or frozen.

Keep boiling for 2-5 minutes, or until okra is soft.

Okra is a thickening agent, so you may need to add more liquid after incorporating it.

On New Year's Eve, many people in the South will serve a dish called "Hoppin' John" as a symbol of good fortune. Black-eyed peas, rice, bacon, chopped onion, and bell peppers are common ingredients. Swap out black eyed for purple hull or pink eye purple hull shrimp.

How to get your hands on it

These are commonly sold at farmer's markets, but here are some alternative options for obtaining them if you don't have ready access to a market near you.

Farmers on the Sides of the Road, Peas Greater Canton, Texas

Farmer's Market of GrapevineGrapevine, Texas' Farmer's Market

Agricultural Operations at Ed Lester: Louisiana's Coushatta

Ascertaining the Appropriate Time to Buy

From June until early September, purple hulls can be found in stores. October is still a possibility, but I would never put money on it. In June, I buy a bushel of peas and freeze them so I can eat them throughout the year.

How many pounds can you expect from a bushel?

Peas have a yield of about 32 quarts per bushel.

Once you've mastered seasoning and cooking purple hull peas, you can easily adapt those skills to cooking other types of peas, such as cream or black-eyed peas.

Purple hull peas in white bowl.

In keeping with our discussion of Southern peas, those of you who live in the region around here are likely familiar with Fried and diced baby beans Debi at Frog Meat Pie has an excellent article and recipe for seasoning and cooking these delectable treats Don't forget to take a look!

The Recipe

Purple hull peas in white bowl.
  • lbs A bowl of purple hull peas in shell or hull
  • 7 cups broth made from chickens , or water
  • 1 the equivalent of two or three bacon slices or a smoked ham hock (this is optional, so check the recipe notes for clarification if needed)
  • ¼ teaspoon To powder onions with
  • ¼ teaspoon Powdered Garlic
  • flavor with salt and pepper to taste
  • Clean fresh or frozen peas by rinsing and draining.
  • In a large stockpot, fry the bacon if you're using it.
    1 ham hock, smoked, or 2 to 3 bacon slices
  • To the stockpot with the bacon and grease, add the peas and enough water or broth to cover the peas.
  • Throw in the ham hock, garlic powder, and onion powder if you're using any.
    one-fourth teaspoon of garlic powder, 14 teaspoon of dried onion flakes
  • Bring to a boil and let sit for 10 minutes; if foam forms, you can remove it now or just let it sit and dissolve.
  • For the next 1 1/2 to 2 hours, cook covered on low heat.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then take off the heat and let sit for ten minutes once tender. Bring the pot back to a boil, add the okra, and cook for 2 to 5 minutes. Then, cover and let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
  • Cornbread and sliced tomatoes are recommended side dishes.
  • It's important to pre-rinse.
  • Water can be replaced with chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Cooked peas, whether from a can or the freezer, can be kept in the fridge for up to two days if stored in an airtight container.
  • Using a freezer-safe container, you can keep cooked peas frozen for up to six months.
Peas, Raw and Ready to Freeze If you buy them already shelled and plan to freeze them, you should first blanch them.  
  1. Prepare a pot of boiling water and then rinse the shelled peas.
  2. Peas should be blanched for two minutes, then cooled in ice water.
  3. After being drained and dried, they should be stored in airtight plastic bags with about 2 inches of headroom.
  4. Fill the bag less than half full, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer.
  5. Keep for up to six months
How to Cook and Season Southern Peas Differently
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Use water or vegetable broth and flavor it with Liquid Smoke® to mimic the taste of meat.
  • Put in some okra, either fresh or frozen:
    • There are many recipes that include okra because it pairs well with southern peas.
    • Reheat the peas until they are boiling.
    • Put in some okra, either whole or chopped, fresh or frozen.
    • To cook okra, give it 2-5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
    • ADD MORE LIQUID AFTER ADDING THE OKKRA because it will thicken the dish.
  • Hoppin' John:John the Hoppin':
Hoppin' John is a traditional New Year's Eve meal in the South. Black-eyed peas, rice, bacon, chopped onion, and bell peppers are common ingredients. You can swap out the black eyed for some purple hulls or pink eye purple hulls.
Serving: 8 oz Calories: 81 kcal Carbohydrates: 13 g Protein: 6 g Fat: 1 g Trans Fats: 1 g Cholesterol: 1 mg Sodium: 757 mg Potassium: 372 mg Fiber: 4 g Sugar: 5 g Vitamin A: 651 IU Vitamin C: 48 mg Calcium: 34 mg Iron: 2 mg
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