The Truth About Hoppin’ John

Good luck to you.

Every New Year’s Day, I cook Hoppin’ John.  It’s a Southern tradition that supposedly brings good luck.  I only cook it once a year, because truth be told, no one likes it.  Before you put your high and mighty smarty pants on, it isn’t my cooking. It’s just who wants to eat a main course of smooshy black eyed peas?

I toss a salty ham bone in the pot, or sometimes add delicious Conecuh sausage, which is picked out right away only to leave the sad star of the show- blobby peas – on the plate. Year after year, we eat the time honored dish, but no one ever wants seconds. The dog usually gets dibs on the leftovers.  It isn’t that Hoppin’ John is bad – it just isn’t remarkable.

And anyway, if it is so wonderful, why can’t you ever find it on any good restaurant’s menu?

The only good part about Hoppin’ John.  Alabama’s own Conecuh Sausage.

Maybe our lack of enthusiasm for the pea dish is because we always eat Seafood Gumbo on Christmas Eve, which is served over rice, and this time of year we also like to fix (translation: cook) a big pot of chili and sometimes eat that over rice too.  So adding one more thing to simmer on the stove and throw atop a pile of rice seems like overkill.

Here’s my final decision.  I think I’ll be a bad Southern woman and skip the Hoppin’ John this year.

Oh, we’ll still have black eyed peas, I’m not about to tempt fate. The lucky spotted legumes will just be on the side and completely separate from the ham, turnip greens and biscuits covered with butter and cane syrup from the cane grinding back in November.

And anyway, who is John, and why is he hoppin’?

Maybe my refusal to serve this January 1st staple is a defiant streak that will set the tone for the upcoming year.  Maybe my family won’t even notice. Maybe they’ll miss it and beg for it again next year.

Or just maybe, I’ll do what I darn well please.

And honey, isn’t that exactly what Southern women do anyway?

In case you want to go the traditional route, here’s the recipe.

Fairhope Supply Co.  Hoppin’ John

Saute the trinity (half cup each – chopped bell pepper, onion and celery) in butter.  Add one clove chopped garlic.  Pour in one quart of chicken stock and and one pound of black eyed peas that have been soaked overnight then rinsed.  To this, add your ham hock or sliced sausage.  Continue stirring.  add one bay leaf, one teaspoon of thyme and salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne or Tabasco to your taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are tender and creamy.  Serve over rice.

Sit back and wait for the luck to roll in.

Happy New Year, Y’all.

You can find this story along with other ideas about the New Year at My Romantic Home, At The Picket Fence, Stone Gable, Southern Somedays, The Dedicated House, Savvy Southern Style and French Country Cottage.

Leave a comment 13 Comments


  1. says

    I was curious enough to try it one year a few years ago. You are right, it doesn’t go over well. One year was enough for me. I always just open up a can of blackeye peas as a side on New Years. Nobody in my family likes them but I need all the good luck I can get!

  2. says

    I love black eyed peas and cook them often sans bell peppers (yuck). We will have pork tenderloin marinated in something or other, collards, peas, and corn bread.

  3. says

    Say it ain’t so.
    I’m not sure if those peas on New Years Day bring luck… but I’m not about to stop trying. What if I have been super lucky all these years?
    not, win the lottery lucky
    but, putting my head on a pillow every night lucky.
    That’s all we really need!

  4. Rachel says

    You don’t like Hoppin’ John? Hmmm…maybe a new recipe. I use one from the 1981 Southern Living compilation. It’s scrumptious and we love leftovers. One thing you’re right about…it doesn’t look real appetizing, but sure is tasty. Add a side of turnip or collard greens, some fresh baked sweet potatoes, and a big pan of broccoli cornbread. Then schedule a nap.

  5. says

    I don’t do Hoppin’ John but will do a big pot of Black Eyed Peas! Of course, there will also be ham (because Pigs root forwards!), greens, yams and corn bread!

    Thanks for linking up with my 2013 Goals & Resolutions Post!

    Happy New Year to you and yours! May it bring blessings and joy as you always do to my day!

  6. says

    I’m hoppin’ (no pun intended) over from Bella’s linky party too, although I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now, just never commented before. we love Hoppin John at our house, although my recipe is a bit different from yours, and we don’t eat it over rice, but as a side dish. I use diced tomatoes, a bit of chopped japaleno pepper, and sauteed onion. Maybe a different recipe?

  7. says

    I have cooked Black Eyed Peas every New Years Day for the past 20 years, just as my mom did.. I make the Mr. put at least two of the little peas in his mouth cause he hates them.. but I so love them. I used a bit of baby back ribs in mine and their so good..
    Happy New Years!

  8. says

    I admire your courage….As a GRITS (now living in Canada) I can’t skip Hoppin’ John on New Years Day though my girls never really loved it. My seventeen month old grandson, born up here, LOVED it. He also hates snow…My little displaced Southern boy…


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