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Old Fashioned Southern Hoppin John Crockpot Recipe

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This Hoppin John recipe with ham begins with dried black-eyed peas.

Known as New Year’s Food, Hoppin John is a mixture of cooked black eye peas and rice served together in a bowl. There is usually some sort of meat included such as ham or sausage.

This dish makes a nice hearty meal, especially in the cold winter months as comfort food.

Hopping John is a budget-friendly dish because it is such a simple recipe with few ingredients that are not expensive.

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New Year’s Dinner Wives Tale Beliefs

I grew up in the south eating this meal on New Year’s Day every year, without fail. Mom made Hopping John with greens and cornbread. Sometimes the greens were turnips and sometimes they were cabbage. She usually also fried chicken with this meal.

Rice represents pennies.

Black eye peas represent silver coins.

Greens represent cold hard cash.

Eating the traditional southern New Years’ dinner is supposed to help bring good financial fortune throughout the year.

Black eye peas and rice in a white bowl with chopped onions and parsley on top
Hoppin John with onions on top

I don’t know that this meal brings good fortune but what I do know for sure is that Black eye peas and rice makes a delicious meal.

dried black eye peas in a small bowl

How To Cook Dried Peas and Beans

The only way I have ever cooked Hoppin John is from scratch using dried peas. Dried peas and beans can be cooked without soaking them first but it will take longer for them to get done. 

Soaking dried peas or beans

Dried peas and beans require quite a few hours to cook if they are not been pre-soaked.

Soaking means that you place the dried peas into a large bowl and cover them completely with water. This allows the dried bean to soak up the liquid and begin to soften. Soaking first shortens the cooking time significantly for dried peas and beans.

Overnight soaking method

1

First, sort through your dried peas to make sure there are no rocks or sticks which may have made it into the packaging. On rare occasions, you might find a small rock.

dried beans in a colander under running water
Always rinse dried peas or beans in a colander under running water

2

Next, rinse well in a colander under cool running water.

Finally, place the peas into a large bowl and cover them completely with water. Allow them to sit overnight which means they will soak up the water and become soft allowing them to cook more quickly.

Refrigeration is not required during the soaking process.

3

After soaking overnight, drain and cook following the recipe below for Hopping John.

Fast Soak Method for Dried Peas or Beans

If you forgot to soak the peas overnight, no problem, use the fast soak method.

1

Put the peas in a large pot or Dutch Oven. Cover entirely with water. Turn the burner on high and bring it to a boil.

2

Cover with a lid and turn the burner off once the water begins to boil. Let the peas soak in the boiling water for one hour.

3

Pour the water off and proceed with your recipe using fresh water.

Note: Make your meal even better by using chicken broth instead of water.

How To Season Hoppin John or Black Eye Peas and Rice

The seasoning I use for this recipe is salt and pepper and a ham bone with ham still attached.

Anytime you bake a ham, freeze the ham bone with meat still on it for meals like this.  If you don’t have a ham bone in the freezer, you can find small packages of ham pieces to purchase from the meat department. Those work well also.

Optional Seasoning

If you like spicy and want a lowcountry hopping john recipe, add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning. You will get a nice little kick.

Also, See our THREE DAYS OF MEALS FROM ONE POT OF BEANS

Hoppin John with ham in a Slow Cooker

How To Make Crockpot Hoppin John

This easy hopping john recipe is a nice comfort food to serve in the winter when you crave soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 ham bone with ham on it or a small package of ham pieces from the meat department
  • 12 oz. bag of dried black-eyed peas, like these
  • water or chicken broth, at least 7 cups
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tools

Directions

1

Add the ham bone, 12 oz. of dried black eye peas that have been soaked overnight, and 2 quarts of boiling water into your Crockpot.

Cook on high for about 3 to 6 hours until peas are nice and tender.

2

After the peas are tender, add more boiling water to completely cover the peas is needed. Stir in about 1 1/2 Cups of rice, replace the lid and cook another 30-45 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Serve and enjoy!

Printable recipe below

Black eye peas with ham cooking in a Crockpot

Making Pot Liquor with Dried Peas

Pot liquor is the juice filled with the flavor of whatever you are cooking in liquid. You want plenty of pot liquor with your hopping john soup.

Juices are desired for two reasons; you need the juices to cook the rice in and some folks like to crumble their cornbread into the juices in their bowl.

Black eye peas and rice with ham pieces in a Crockpot
Black Eye Peas and Rice in a white bowl with chopped Vidalia Onions on top and a sprig of parsley
Black Eye Peas and Rice with chopped Vidalia Onions on top

It’s common knowledge and cause for debate that some southern cooks add a pinch of sugar to their recipes when no one is looking! I do not add sugar to my black-eyed peas. Regardless, it’s no secret that we do love our Hoppin John and hope you will too.

Hoppin John in a white bowl with chopped onions on top and a sprig of parsley

Hoppin John: Onions Optional

I like my Hoppin John topped with lots of fresh chopped raw Vidalia onions. Those are optional for non-onion lovers of the world. 

You can’t beat a simple recipe with few ingredients that warm the body, sticks to the ribs, and keeps the grocery budget safe. Black Eye Peas and Rice are good any time of the year and we tend to make it a few times each winter during soup season because we love this meal.

What To Serve With Black Eye Peas and Rice

Cornbread. It’s plain and simple just like the meal, serve cornbread with your black eye peas and rice. 

Here’s our made-from-scratch Cornbread Recipe for ya.

Yield: 8

Old Fashioned Southern Hoppin John

a bowl of Hoppin John with chopped onions on top

A warm and hearty budget friendly stick to the ribs meal to be enjoyed in the winter.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • (1) 12 oz. bag of dried black eye peas
  • About 2 Qts. boiling water to begin.
  • 1½ Cups Rice
  • More hot water to cover, about 2-4 Cup
  • 1 Leftover Ham Bone with meat still on it. (Freeze this from Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas) If you don't have a Ham Bone, you can add ham pieces found pre-packaged in the meat department.
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped sweet onion (Optional)

Instructions

Sort and rinse dried black eye peas.

Add peas into Crockpot.

Place Hambone (or ham pieces) on top of the peas.

Cover with boiling water.

Cook on High for about 3 hours.

(We do not add salt because the Ham has plenty of salt)

It is fine to stir the pot once per hour.

Once the peas are tender, add more hot boiling water so that the peas are completely covered.

Stir in the rice.

Cover with lid and cook another 30-45 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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Hoppin John in a bowl and in a Crockpot

Originally published 9/6/2016

Updated 12/30/2022

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9 Comments

  1. I remember reading that this dish is usually made on New Years Day to bring luck for the following year. I wanted to make it one year but none of the recipes looked appealing. Yours look creamy and delicious. Pinning this one for New Years Day

    1. Hi Gabrielle, we spent several months in Biloxi, Ms. for job training a few years ago. We discovered that some of our southern traditions were not to be found there. We requested Cracklin Cornbread at the S&S Cafeteria and they had no idea what we were even talking about. It’s amazing how different things are so close together in the south, isn’t it. You guys gave us Emeril and we love many of his recipes.

We enjoying hearing from you!