Instant Pot black eyed peas are tender, perfectly cooked and really flavorful. They're easy and fast, no soaking needed. The saucy BBQ flavor pairs perfectly with pork, mac n' cheese, slow cooked greens, and cornbread.
Instant Pot black eyed peas is an easy vegetarian side dish. You'll love these beans hot or cold. This dish is perfect for BBQs, family dinners, pot lucks and holidays. Especially New Year's Eve, when black eyed peas are traditionally served to ring in good luck for the New Year.
The total cooking time for Instant Pot black eyed peas is about 45 minutes, from start to finish. Most of this time is hands off, while the beans cook in the pressure cooker.
What Are Black-Eyed Peas?
According to The Food Lover's Companion, black-eyed peas originated in Asia. They began to show up in cuisine from Africa and then were introduced to America through slave trade from Africa.
Although called a pea, these legumes are actually beans. They are called "black-eyed" because of the circular black "eye" that marks the small, oval bean. They are sometimes called a cowpea.
Black eyed peas are especially common in Southern cuisine. Dishes like Hoppin' John cook black-eyed peas with salt pork or ham hock and seasonings. The dish is served over rice, often on New Year's Eve as a tradition to bring good luck into the new year.
Instant Pot Black-Eyed Pea Ingredients
This is a simple but flavorful version of black eyed peas. The combination of onion, tomato paste and mild spices with just a hint of brown sugar give the beans mild, crowd-pleasing barbecue flavor.
An Instant Pot is the easiest method for cooking black eyed peas. Why is it my preferred method? Because it’s quick, easy, and yields perfectly tender beans!
Step 1: Saute the onion until lightly browned.
Step 2: Add tomato paste and water and mix well.
Step 3: Add dried black eyed peas, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar.
Step 4: Cook for 15 minutes, with a natural release.
For detailed instructions and ingredient amounts, see the recipe card below.
The amount of water added to Instant Pot black eyed peas depends on what you're planning to do with the beans.
Plain beans: If you're cooking the black eyed peas for a salad or other dish, a good water ratio is 3:1 (3 cups water/1 cup dried beans). This is enough water to cover the beans and they will cook evenly without sticking to the pot. There will be some water left in the pot, but you can drain that off when the beans are cooked.
Flavored beans/Side Dish: This recipe cooks black eyed peas with onion, tomato paste and seasonings. The water ratio is reduced closer to 2:1 (2 cups water/1 cup beans). There is enough water to just cover the beans and to create a thick sauce that flavors the beans.
Black eyed pea soup: For soup, you need more liquid. Most recipes for Instant Pot black eye pea soup will add 6 to 8 cups of water or broth.
Expert Tips for Cooking Beans
For this recipe, I suggest a cooking time of 15 minutes, natural release. I tested this recipe multiple times, and each time 15 minutes produced tender beans with a soft, but not mushy texture.
For a slightly firmer texture, try cooking black-eyed peas for 12 minutes in a pressure cooker. If you're still worried about the texture being too soft, start by cooking the beans at 9 minutes. If the beans aren't tender enough, just secure the pressure cooker lid again and cook for another 2 minutes, natural release. You can continue to cook the beans in 2 minute increments until they reach a texture you like.
However, it's hard to give an exact cooking time that cooks everyone's batch of dried beans perfectly. There are so many variables that affect the cooking time.
The most common problem is that the beans are undercooked and the texture isn't as soft as you might want.
In a pressure cooker, this problem is easy to solve. You can just secure the lid again and keep cooking the beans for another 3 to 5 minutes until they reach a texture you like.
Reasons that beans don't soften:
- Stale/Old: Even dried beans need to be "fresh" if you want them to be tender and flavorful. Dried beans that are more than a year old can stay hard and chewy, no matter how long you cook them.
- Variations in Brands: You might find that one brand of beans cooks differently than the same bean sold by another brand at the store. If you find a brand you like, stick with it and it will be easier to predict the correct cooking time for every batch.
- Liquid Level: Beans should always be covered with liquid while cooking. Not enough liquid means they won't cook evenly.
- Acidic Ingredients: Cooking dried beans with acidic ingredients - like tomatoes, wine, vinegar or lemon - can prevent beans from getting soft and tender.
- Hard Water: If your tap water is really hard, the minerals in the water can prevent foods like beans from becoming soft while cooking. You'll need to use a longer cooking time, or try cooking beans in filtered or bottled water.
Yes, you can add smoked ham that has been diced into small cubes. You can also add a few strips of raw bacon that have been cut into ½-inch pieces; cook the bacon with the onion, then proceed with the recipe.
The small, oval shape makes black-eyed peas look somewhat like peas when they are dried but these legumes are actually beans. However, they are sometimes called a cowpea.
Yes, you can add roughly chopped collard greens to this recipe, however, the cooking time is longer than necessary for greens so the texture of the greens will get extremely soft. You can also cook a separate batch of greens first, such as Instant Pot collard greens.
If you're cooking black eyed peas in an Instant Pot, no pre-soaking is needed.
It's hard to give an exact cooking time that cooks everyone's batch of dried beans perfectly. There are so many variables that affect the cooking time. For this recipe, my recipe testing consistently yielded tender, but not mushy, beans at a 15 minute cooking time. For more details about the cooking time for dried beans, read the blog post section above, "Expert Tips for Cooking Beans."
What to Serve with Black Eyed Peas
- Instant Pot pork butt or cider braised pork
- Any meat off the grill, especially ribs
- Sausage, like kielbasa
- Mac n cheese
- Slow cooked greens, like Instant Pot collard greens
- Roasted squash and sweet potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
Storage and Reheating
Cooked black eyed peas will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. They can be reheated in the microwave. On the stove top, reheat gently in a pot.
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Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Recipe
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas are tender, perfectly cooked and really flavorful. They're easy and fast, no soaking needed. These black eyed peas have a saucy BBQ flavor pairs perfectly with pork, mac n cheese, slow cooked greens, and cornbread.
Total Instant Pot Cooking Time: 15 minutes to reach pressure + 15 minute cooking time + 15 minute natural release = 45 minutes
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: side dishes
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Southern
- Diet: Vegan
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 ¼ cups water
- 16 ounces dried black eyed peas (2 ½ cups)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar or maple syrup
- Add oil to the Instant Pot and press the Saute button.
- Saute the onion until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and mix it into the onion.
- Add the water and mix well.
- Add the remaining ingredients: black eyed peas, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar.
- Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally (about 15 minutes).
- Mix well. Add salt to taste.
For this recipe, I suggest a cooking time of 15 minutes, natural release. I tested this recipe multiple times, and each time 15 minutes produced tender beans with a soft, but not mushy texture. For a slightly firmer texture, try cooking black-eyed peas for 12 minutes in a pressure cooker. For more information about cooking dried beans in your pressure cooker and avoiding hard beans, read the blog post section above titled "Expert Tips for Cooking Beans".
How to Cook Plain Black Eyed Peas
If you'd like plain black eyed peas (no sauce) you can simply combine 3 cups water + ¼ teaspoon salt with every 1 cup of dried beans. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes at high pressure, natural release. Drain off any excess water that remains in the pot. For a salad, chill the black eyed peas and then add more salt as needed.
This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot.
Cooked black eyed peas will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave. On the stove top, reheat gently in a pot.
Keywords: Instant Pot black eyed peas