Hoppin’ John (Recipe)

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, which means everyone down here is stocking up on collard greens, black eyed peas, and cornbread fixin’s. People say these dishes will bring you good luck, but I think healthy home cookin’ is just a great way to start the New Year.

In my book, Modern Cast Iron, I have tasty recipes for traditional collard greens, cornbread, and field peas. But this year I wanted to make a big pot of Hoppin’ John.

Now, if you order Hoppin’ John from some restaurants, you might get a simple bowl of black eyed peas and rice. But Robby and I like ours a bit spicier and with more goodies like chopped bell pepper and tomatoes. We don’t like it too spicy, though—we want to be able to taste our dessert, after all.

So this year, I experimented with traditional Hoppin’ John recipes, modifying them to fit our taste and to make the recipe as easy as possible. (I am a busy toddler mom, after all!) Robby and I were quite pleased with the result, and I think you will be, too. That’s because this recipe is so flexible! I’ll give you the basic recipe first and then provide some variations.

Hoppin' John

A traditional Southern dish of black-eyed peas cooked with ham, tomatoes, chilis, and spices, served over rice. Perfect for New Year's Eve!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Comfort Food, New Year's, Southern Food
Servings: 6


  • Medium-sized Dutch oven


  • 15 oz black eyed peas, frozen (See Note 1 below.)
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or minced)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 ham hock or ham bone
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 oz Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, mild


  • Add olive oil, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and seasonings to a medium (4-6 quart) Dutch oven and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ham hock to the pot and let it cook in the oil a few minutes, turning it over periodically.
  • Add broth, bay leaf, and peas to the pot. Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the Dutch oven and reduce the heat. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until peas are tender.
  • Remove ham hock or bone. If using a bone, remove any meat and add it back to the pot. (See Note 2 below.)
  • Add half the can of Rotel tomatoes and let the peas and tomatoes simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Taste the mixture and add more Rotel if desired, up to the whole can. (See Note 3 below.) Add water if needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Let the peas continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until done. While the peas are cooking, make a pot of white rice.
  • Remove bay leaf from the peas and serve over rice with a side of cornbread.


1- If you have more time, you can use a 16-oz bag of dried black eyed peas. This might save you a bit of money and some room in the freezer. However, you’ll need to soak the dried peas overnight in water before you cook them.
2 - My Publix carries ham hocks in a pack of four, so I keep some in the freezer. They provide a lot of flavor but no meat. If you have a leftover ham bone, you can use that instead. When you remove the bone from the Dutch oven, cut off any pieces of meat and add them back to the pot for more texture and protein in your peas.
3 - The peppers in Rotel seem to get spicier when they’re cooked, so I recommend starting with half a can. Then taste the peas and decide if you’d like more tomatoes.
4 - For more "hop" in your Hoppin’ John, add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper or use andouille sausage links instead of ham. You can also increase the flavor of your rice by cooking it in some of the liquid from the peas instead of plain water.
5 - For less "hop," use plain diced tomatoes instead of Rotel. You can also add a bit of sugar to your cornbread mix to offset the spiciness. (That’s the Northern way of making cornbread, but we won’t tell on you.)
6 - I like to make big batches and freeze the extra, so I’ve made this once with two bags of frozen peas and another time with two bags of dried peas. For some reason, the ratio of one can of Rotel to two frozen bags of peas worked really well, while the single can of Rotel with two dried bags of peas wasn’t quite enough. It seems the dried peas cook up to a bigger batch than the frozen ones. So if you decide to double your batch, taste as you go and have an extra can of Rotel or tomatoes on hand.

Well, you know what we’re having for New Year’s. What about you? Do you have a special meal planned? I hope it involves your favorite cast-iron Dutch oven.

Happy Cooking!

Learn more about:

Enameled Dutch Ovens 101

How to Clean & Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet

Your Cast Iron Questions, Answered

Make Self-Rising Cornmeal (Without Aluminum!)

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Author: Ashley L Jones

I love encouraging people, whether that means digging into the Bible or making a homemade meal in cast iron. Check out the About section of my blog (BigSisterKnows.com) for more details. Thanks for stopping by!

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