This recipe for vegan Black Eyed Peas was originally published in my cookbook Sweet Potato Soul. Order it here for even more amazing vegan southern and soul food recipes.
Yes, you can make delicious tender black-eyed peas without using animal products. Take it from me, I’m a black girl from Georgia. I have eaten a big bowl of black eyed peas and collard greens on New Years Day every year since I was 2! My authentic recipe uses plant-based spices to replicate the smoky rich flavor in your grandma’s pot of beans. And if you’ve only eaten black-eyed peas on New Years Day, this recipe will convince you to eat these tasty beans all year round.
These Authentic Vegan Black Eyed Peas are:
- Absolutely Delicious
- Easy to make
- Made stove-top or in the Instant Pot
- 100% vegan
Why Black Eyed Peas are eaten for Good Luck
In every African American and Southern household it is imperative to eat a bowl of black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day. I have not missed this tradition since I was a baby! According to the superstition eating a bowl of tender black-eyed peas will guarantee luck in the new year, while collard greens represent the attraction of wealth. Some cooks prepare their beans with a penny or dime in the pot. Whoever gets the coin in their bowl is said to receive the best luck in the coming year.
I am quite superstitious and take this tradition very seriously. It seems to have worked its magic in my life. But beyond good fortune, the simple process of preparing a pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a great way to start the year with a clean slate, to reconnect with your intentions for the year, and share a nourishing meal with the ones you love.
To read more about the origins of this special tradition please read my cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul. In it I explore the origins of many traditional southern and African American foods and culinary traditions.
The Star Ingredients
Black Eyed Peas: The most important ingredient is, of course, black-eyed peas! This is my favorite bean. I love its creamy texture, earthy flavor, and subtle sweetness. They have a truly special taste and texture. Like all beans, black-eyed peas are a great source of fiber, protein, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron. I usually purchase my black-eyed peas from my friends at Camellia beans or at a local grocery store.
Smoked Paprika: To make authentic vegan black eyed peas I replace the smokiness from smoked pork, or ham hock, with smoked paprika. It works like a charm without having to harm an animal. As fans of this blog know, I love smoked paprika and buy it in bulk online. If you are new to this spice, look for smoked paprika that is stored in a tin can. Be sure it says smoked (Hungarian or sweet will do) because normal (unsmoked) paprika will not cut it here.
Liquid smoke: To compliment the smoked paprika and give these beans a smoky boost, I use liquid smoke. This liquid condiment is vegan and available at most grocery stores.
Soy sauce: Trust me. Soy sauce and smoked paprika compliment each other in any recipe. The smoky flavor of smoked paprika is highlighted, and the richness and umami from soy sauce is accentuated when paired. Use tamari soy sauce if you want a gluten free dish.
How to make Vegan Black Eyed Peas
- Sauté the aromatics in a large pot: onions, garlic, celery, and red bell pepper.
- Add soaked and rinsed black-eyed peas followed by 6 cups of vegetable broth. I usually use water and Better Than Bouillon veggie paste.
- Stir in a large bay leaf to the beans, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and continue to cook the beans over medium heat with the lid ajar for 30-45 minutes. They will be cooked well after 30 minutes, but you’ll want to cook them for upwards of 45 minutes for the creamiest texture.
- Season with smoked paprika, liquid smoke, soy sauce, and pepper in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Enjoy alongside collard greens with rice or cornbread.
Tips to perfect this Vegan Black Eyed Peas Recipe
- Look for dry black-eyed peas that look smooth, free of holes, and are not wrinkled. Soak your beans at least 6 hours before cooking. However do not soak longer than 10 hours, and the texture seems to change when cooked. You can use store-bought frozen peas if you forget to soak them.
- Be sure to add salt to the aromatics as they sauté. This will help them soften and it will give them more flavor, in turn creating a more delicious pot of beans.
- The beans should be cooked well after 35 minutes, but you’ll want to cook them for upwards of 45 minutes for the creamiest texture. To make them even creamier you can use a handheld immersion blender to puree a little more of the beans.
- I love leftover black eyed peas. Consider cooking them the day ahead for an extra flavorful meal.
- IF USING THE INSTANT POT: Use less vegetable broth when cooking your black eyed peas in the instant pot. Use only enough liquid to cover the beans by a centimeter.
Do you have to use black eyed peas?
According to Southern tradition you can use other types of leafy greens for the New Year’s Day meal––like kale, mustard greens, or turnip greens––in place of collard greens, but the beans must remain black-eyed peas. However, this recipe can be used with any beans––cook times may vary.
Feel free to use the aromatics you have on hand. If you only have red onion or leeks, those will work to replace yellow onion. Green bell pepper can be used in place of red.
If you’re craving a less traditional recipe for New Year’s black eyed peas, check out my Sweet Potato Black Eyed Pea Curry recipe.
How to reheat & freeze
These vegan black eyed peas make the best leftovers! They’re even tastier and creamier on days 2 and 3. They should keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat your beans in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
Black-eyed peas freeze well. Store them in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
Try these other Vegan Southern recipes:
There are even more black-eyed pea recipes in my cookbook: black eyed pea cakes, black eyed pea hummus, black eyed pea pot pie, and Harlem Caviar (the most delicious cold black eyed pea salad). Click here to purchase the cookbook on Amazon.
Authentic Vegan Black Eyed Peas
- 1 Instant Pot optional
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 large red bell pepper diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and diced (optional)
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound dried black eyed peas sorted, rinsed, and soaked for 8 hours
- 6 cups veggie broth or 6 cups water plus 6 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon paste, or 6 cups water plus 2 veggie bouillon cubes
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme and/or oregano optional
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, celery, and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the black-eyed peas, veggie broth, and bay leaf.
- Cover and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender and the broth has thickened.
- Stir in the smoked paprika, liquid smoke, soy sauce, pepper, and cayenne.
- Remove from the heat and let the beans cool a bit.
- Serve with collard greens and rice or cornbread.
INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté on medium heat and add the oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, celery, and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the soaked black-eyed peas, ONLY ENOUGH VEGGIE BROTH TO COVER THE BEANS ABOUT 1 CENTIMETER, and bay leaf.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock in place.
- Cancel the sauté and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. If you are using un-soaked beans (which is acceptable using the Instant Pot) pressure cook for 35 minutes.
- Let the Instant Pot natural pressure release for 5 minutes, then vent fully and turn off the machine.
- Carefully remove the top of the pot and stir in the smoked paprika, liquid smoke, soy sauce, pepper, and cayenne.
- Remove from the heat and let the beans cool a bit before serving with collard greens and rice or cornbread.