This one-pot Hoppin’ John is an easier version of the classic Southern dish, using canned black-eyed peas for a faster recipe that still has all the delicious flavors. It's great for New Year's Day!
Did you have a very merry Christmas earlier this week? Was Santa good to you this year?
He certainly arrived at our house in full force! The kids are 7 and 5 and were both SO into all the Christmas fun this year. And they were happy campers come Christmas morning.
I heard lots of, "This is just what I wanted!" and "This is the best Christmas ever!" as they opened and went through all of their surprises. Makes a mama's heart happy! 💕
And even though I'm back at work today (I work from home as a health and nutrition editor) and even though that alarm clock came all too early, I've had such a wonderful holiday.
Plus, my brother and his family arrive today for a visit and a cousin and aunt will be by this weekend, so the fun isn't even over yet!
But I am gonna move us right along to the food so I can get through work and get back to family time...
Earlier this week I shared my collard greens and beans with bacon recipe, in preparation for New Year’s Day.
Today, I’m going back to some of those same flavors and traditional ingredients with my easy one-pot Hoppin’ John.
This is a classic, old Southern recipe and it’s just so tasty.
The soft rice, the flavorful beans, plus the onion and bacon to add a savory and salty edge - so much yum!
It’s also a really economical dish, since it’s mainly rice and peas.
The bacon is more of a flavoring agent and an accent. Traditionally in the South, meat was often in short supply and so was used economically like this. It wasn’t the main component of the meal, just a flavor booster.
And you won’t miss it at all. Hoppin’ John is something I can go for anytime, not just on New Year's Day when it's so popular to serve.
(To enjoy it even more often, I also make Hoppin’ John in a burger form with my black-eyed peas burgers.)
Of course though, I had to simplify the traditional recipe a bit.
I make my Hoppin’ John with canned black-eyed peas.
Some of my fellow Southerns might scoff, but I say they are tasty, they are convenient and I’m not sorry. 😉
I also think adding them in at the end, instead of cooking them in the same pot, gives a better texture.
Sometimes Hoppin’ John can be soupy and that’s just not what I’m looking for. I like a sturdier dish, almost like a mixed rice, and that’s what we get here.
The flavors concentrate, everything mixes in together and it comes out perfectly cooked and well seasoned.
It’s a keeper!
And of course I have ideas for you on toppings to really take it to the next level.
Cause you know I seriously love some toppings.
For Hoppin’ John toppings, you’ll definitely use the reserved cooked and crumbled bacon. I also love lots of hot sauce and a sprinkling of chopped green onions.
Finally, although it’s not traditional, a little sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese on this really takes it over the top. I can’t get enough!
Notes on one-pot Hoppin’ John:
- As mentioned, I’m doing a quick and easy version using a can of black-eyed peas.
- If you have dried black-eyed peas, I recommend cooking them separately and then proceeding with this recipe. Cooking the black-eyed peas and rice all together can leave you with a soupy end product.
- You could also substitute field peas or crowder peas for the black-eyed peas in this recipe. Even pinto beans would work, but that’s straying a ways from the original dish.
- I use brown rice because we love some whole grains in our house. You could easily substitute regular long-grain white rice in this recipe. It’ll cut the cooking time down to about 20 minutes for that portion of the recipe. (Just check to make sure your rice is cooked through.)
For a veggie side, we love this served with collards or another green to make a complete meal. And make it even more Southern. ❤️
You can check out my quick Southern collard greens with bacon for a super fast version of collards that is seriously delicious!
Cornbread on the side would be delicious as well! (It’s another of the traditional New Year’s Day foods. Read on for more info on that.)
And now, I’ve got some frequently asked questions I wanted to tackle.
Not everyone may be as familiar with this dish or these ingredients as I am — we can’t all be Southerners! — so I wanted to answer some of the common questions I get.
If you want to go directly to the recipe, simply scroll past this information and you’ll see the recipe card near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
What is Hoppin’ John?
Hoppin’ John is also known as Carolina Peas and Rice and it’s a pretty basic peas and rice dish served in the South. It originated in the Low Country and is similar to other beans and rice dishes in the South and the Caribbean. Its influence may have come originally from African slaves who were brought to the Americas.
What’s in traditional Hoppin’ John?
Hoppin’ John is made with black-eyed peas and rice, chopped onion and sliced bacon. Some recipes substitute another type of field peas for the black-eyed peas. Others also may use ham hock, fatback or country sausage in place of the bacon.
Fun fact: Leftover Hoppin’ John, on the day after New Year’s, is called “Skippin’ Jenny,” and meant to symbolize frugality and the opportunity for prosperity in the new year.
Can I make a vegetarian Hoppin’ John?
Sure. It’s not traditional, but you can simply skip the bacon/meat in this recipe to make it vegetarian. Instead, use 1-2 tablespoons of oil and/or butter to sauté the veggies in the pan before you add the rice.
What’s the significance of the traditional New Year’s Day foods in the South?
There are 3-4 main foods you are supposed to eat on New Year’s Day, according to the traditions in the South. I’m from North Carolina and grew up with these every Jan. 1 as a way to ensure a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Here’s the details:
Pork – Pork was seen as a special occasion food in the South in earlier times, particularly the “high on the hog” cuts. That, along with the rich fat content, is meant to symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Black-eyed peas or field peas – Some people say lentils and peas are eaten on New Years Day because they resemble small coins and contribute to a prosperous year. That’s what we always said in my family.
Others say the black-eyed peas tradition dates back to the Civil War when Vicksburg, Mississippi, was cut off from food supplies and the people resorted to eating the crops used to feed cattle (which is why cowpeas are one of the other names for field peas). This saved the people from starvation and made the peas a symbol of resourcefulness and good fortune.
Greens (traditionally collard greens) – Their green color is meant to symbolize paper money and ensure wealth and prosperity in the new year.
Cornbread – It’s golden color and the golden nuggets of corn are also supposed to ensure a year of financial success.
Now you are ready to enjoy all the yumminess that is in this easy one-pot Hoppin’ John!
(And by the way, my 5-year-old son thinks this is totally named after him. 😂)
Happy New Year and enjoy!
- 4-5 slices bacon (I prefer thick cut)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¼ cups brown rice (see notes)
- 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (15 oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- Optional toppings: Hot sauce, sliced green onions, shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat a large pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat and add bacon.
- Cook, turning occasionally, until bacon is cooked through and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain, then crumble and reserve. (You can prep the remaining ingredients while the bacon is cooking.)
- In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add the onion, green pepper, jalapeño, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the brown rice and stir well to get it coated in the oils. Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45-50 minutes, until the rice is cooked through.
- Stir in the black-eyed peas until warmed through.
- Serve with reserved crumbled bacon, along with any additional optional toppings and enjoy!
This is a quick and easy version using a can of black-eyed peas. If you have dried black-eyed peas, I recommend cooking them separately and then proceeding with this recipe.
You could also substitute field peas or crowder peas for the black-eyed peas in this recipe. Even pinto beans would work, but that’s straying a little from the original.
I use brown rice because we love some whole grains in our house. You could easily substitute regular long-grain white rice in this recipe. It’ll cut the cooking time down to about 20 minutes for that portion of the recipe. (Just check to make sure your rice is cooked through.)
This goes great with a side of collards, like my quick Southern collard greens with bacon.