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Southern Purple Hull Peas

In this post I am sharing how to prepare Southern Purple Hull Peas, also known as Pink Eyed Peas.

We’ve just finished off the leftovers from Christmas dinner and have a few days before the last segment of the “holiday meals”. The first dinner of the new year is just as important as the other holiday meals because it brings luck in the coming year.

We could all use a bit of extra luck, right?!? It doesn’t hurt. So on new year’s day, my family, like most other Southern families will dine on greens, field peas, pork and cornbread.

Black eyed peas may be the first field pea that comes to mind. It may in fact be the only one that you are familiar with. There are several Southern field peas however and I’m going to introduce you to the pink ladies. 

The “eyed” variety of cow peas or field peas have a few close cousins, nearly twins, that include the black eyed, pink eyed (purple hull or pink ladies), and cream (Southern ladies). These peas also fall under the Carolina pea name. 

With so many names, it may seem a bit confusing, but they’re all field peas. If you’re wondering, is there any difference in each, the answer is yes. Not only do they vary in color and although it may be slight, they each offer their own unique taste.

How to cook purple hull peas

Traditions are a powerful thing in the South and followed without fault. As far as I can remember, new year day supper included collard greens, ham or some other pork, black eyed peas and cornbread. 

Even though I wasn’t even that fond of collard greens as a child, I ate them anyways. As I said, tradition is a powerful thing and you just do it. Over the years I have come to love collard greens and enjoy them as often as possible. 

Fresh Field Peas

Southern Pink eyed peas

Purple Hull Peas vs Black Eyed Peas

While purple hull (pink eyed) peas and black eyed peas look very much alike, there is a noticeable pinkness to the “eye” and black eyed peas are described as having a more earthy taste. 

Truth be told, the taste difference is there and it is so slight and hard to describe. There is a difference though and both of the peas deserve a place on your table. 

I’m especially fond of the purple hull peas because I can only get them fresh frozen where I live…or just plain fresh from the farmer’s markets. 

Fresh frozen peas cook up much faster than dried beans and don’t require any soaking. 

Frozen Field Peas Recipe

Fresh Frozen Purple Hull Peas

How do you cook Southern Purple Hull Peas? It is really easy to cook a delicious pot of fresh field peas and you’ll love this pink eyed variety. Here’s what you’ll need: bacon, ham hock, fresh frozen purple hull peas, chicken broth, water and a little salt & pepper.

You’ll find a full printable recipe further down in this post.

Cooking purple hull peas for a Southern new year dinner

Step 1: Chop up some bacon and throw it in a dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the bacon pieces to render the fat, that delicious and flavorful bacon grease! Once the bacon is crispy and has released all of it’s fat drippings, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot and set it aside for later.

Step 2: Next, add an important seasoning component to many Southern dishes…a country ham hock. Next, add the purple hull peas, chicken broth and water to the pot. Give everything a good stir and loosely cover with a lid. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.

Step 3: Season the peas. Wait to season until the end because the ham hock and chicken broth will add a lot of seasoning and flavor in cooking. If needed add a bit of salt then add some ground black pepper and cook another ten minutes.

The peas should be tender but not mushy. 

Ham Hock and peas

Best Southern Purple Hull Peas Recipe

Yield: 1 Pot of Peas

Southern Purple Hull Peas

Cast Iron Skillet with Pink eyed peas and a ham hock garnished with fresh Thyme to bring luck in the new year

Southern Purple Hull Peas or Pink Eyes are a delicious variety of field peas. While they're all similar, each adds its own unique quality.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 4-5 Strips of Bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 Country Ham Hock
  • 1.5-2 lbs Fresh Frozen Purple Hull Peas
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth
  • 2 c Water, more or less as needed to cover the peas
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper


  1. Cook the bacon pieces in a dutch oven over medium heat until crispy and all the fat has rendered. Remove the cooked pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the ham hock to the pot then add the peas.
  3. Next, slowly add the chicken broth and water.
  4. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  5. Cook for 1 hour.
  6. Taste the broth of the peas and add salt if needed.
  7. Next add ground black pepper.
  8. Pink eyed peas should be tender but not mushy when done.
  9. Serve as a side dish or as the main meal with a side cornbread.


The reserved bacon pieces may be used for garnish or refrigerate to use as a salad topping.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 720mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 8gSugar: 10gProtein: 14g

Southern Purple Hull Peas

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See this recipe shared at Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday.

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Tuesday 28th of November 2023

This was a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much. I added chicken bouillon and limited the amount of water used. It was seasoned just right.

Julia Jordan

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Thank you, Karen! I am so happy that you enjoyed using the recipe. ~Julia


Tuesday 16th of August 2022

I wish you would give nutritional values.

Julia Jordan

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Tom, You can find the nutritional values in the recipe card.


Thursday 3rd of February 2022


You left out the most important part of this purple hull pea recipe!

FIRST you sit on the porch with your Mama and shell peas till your fingers hurt while she gossips and gives you "life advise" AT THE SAME TIME! (example).. When a neighbor walks by ... "God, I hope that poor child makes a better man that his nar do well daddy; did you HEAR what that low down so and so DID last weekend"...

This adds a flavor to the peas when you eat them (remembering with every bite) that sage wisdom your Mama was telling you last summer on the porch! This is a flavor that NO spice known to mankind (womankind either) can add!

Other than that, GREAT RECIPE!

Kevin Loving West Side of Arkansas

G. Thomas

Sunday 19th of June 2022

@Kevin, You are spot on! Miss that conversation time with family. And the peas are fresher and tastier. Thanks for making me smile.

David Phetteplace III

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

Making this today with fresh local peas. Cant wait to devour them with cornbread and grilled chicken!!

Julia Jordan

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

That sounds wonderful! I love fresh local foods. Enjoy!


Sunday 3rd of January 2021

You left out the whole okra pods to be thrown in the pot about 10 minutes before their done.

Julia Jordan

Monday 4th of January 2021

That would certainly be delicious!

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