Main Course/ Recipes

hoppin’ john

My mom made hoppin’ john every.single.year that I lived at home.

It’s a simple dish really—just black eyed peas mixed with rice, tomatoes and green onions and then topped with a spicy, tangy sauce made of mayonnaise, chilies and sharp cheddar cheese. A million variations exist of this dish, but mom kept it simple. And man, is it ever delicious.

Hoppin’ John is a Southern dish traditionally made and eaten on New Years to ensure good luck in the year ahead. And for years, I was SURE that if I didn’t eat all my hoppin’ john it would result in an unlucky year.

What am I saying? I still think that.

Many versions of this dish include bacon or ham, but I think simple is best here. Save your ham hocks for split pea soup and instead, soak your dry peas the day before and make this yummy meal early on New Years morning (or, let’s be honest, whenever you wake up from partying the night before). You can use any extra peas to make this later. You won’t regret it.

Use a serrano pepper in this dish. I promise it won’t be crazy spicy (unless you add the seeds, that is). Be sure to wear gloves and/or wash your hands immediately after chopping though! It would be such a backfire to get pepper in your eye on New Years. I know from experience!

The whole thing is covered in a delicious blanket of sharp cheddar cheese. The more the merrier! And leftovers are even better the next day! If you’ve never tried hoppin’ john before, I urge you to try it this year! I think you’ll love it.

Hoppin’ John

serves 4-6

Print this recipe!


1 cup dry black eyed peas

1/2 cup brown rice (dry)

3 plum tomatoes, chopped

6 green onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

grated cheddar cheese for serving

for tomato hot pepper relish—

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped (be careful, wash your hands and don’t touch your face while handling this hot pepper!)

pinch of salt


Soak the black eyed peas overnight in water. In the morning, drain the water, add fresh water (about two inches above peas) and bring to a boil. Cover pot (leaving an inch open) and simmer for about one hour, until peas are tender. Drain and set peas aside.

Cook the rice in 1 1/2 cups water. When done, fluff with a fork and combine with the peas in a large bowl.

Top the peas and rice with the sliced green onions and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the relish, combine all ingredients. It shouldn’t be runny so you might need to add a little more or a little less mayonnaise to produce desired thick sauce consistency.

Serve hoppin’ john in bowls topped with relish and freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese. YUM!!


1 hour (doesn’t include time to soak and cook the peas—I always make this dish the day before I plan to serve it!)




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  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    December 28, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of hoppin John before, but nevertheless, this sounds like a delicious, super hearty recipe! Maybe eating 3 bowls would bring on 3x as much luck as one? 😉

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    December 28, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I’ve never heard of a Hoppin’ John until right now!

    It sort of reminds me of a 7 Layer Dip or a Black Bean Dip but with Black Eyed Peas/Rice rather than Black or Refried Beans…but it looks like a great dip or dish to bring to a party… I bet it’s so good and I bet it would bring good luck for the new year 🙂

  • Kim {Recipes To Run On}
    December 28, 2011 at 3:47 am

    I’m planning our New Year’s weekend menu and wanted to begin a traditional one… with Hoppin’ John. Was just looking for a recipe…. and will try this! Thanks. Love that it includes cheese… thinking I’ll get my kids to eat it. 🙂

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    December 28, 2011 at 4:43 am

    i’ve had hoppin’ john before, but we always did just straight up black eyed peas for new year’s good luck…i think we figured more couldn’t hurt!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    December 28, 2011 at 4:58 am

    i’ve never heard of hoppin john! looks delicious though… and if it wards off bad luck, well then i had better eat up!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    December 28, 2011 at 5:04 am

    I have always wanted to try this! Looks amazing 🙂

  • imperfect
    December 28, 2011 at 5:05 am

    My grandmother does that dish too.

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    December 28, 2011 at 5:05 am

    My hands are turning red and burning just looking at that serrano chili! I have to call someone in just to chop a jalapeño!

  • Debbi
    December 28, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I love Hoppin’ John, but have never seen a recipe that includes tomatoes, mayo or cheese. I’ve enjoyed the Saigon version the last couple of years, and will make it again New Year’s Day, with the addition of some ham. (I’m a native northerner, and we believe pork and sauerkraut brings good fortune.)

    Recipe for Saigon Hoppin’ John is here:

  • christie
    December 28, 2011 at 5:26 am

    aww this makes me wish you were back in the south! and i dont mean texas!! miss you!!

  • Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy
    December 28, 2011 at 5:28 am

    We always have black eyed peas on new years! I am going to suggest to my family that we make them like this, for this upcoming New Year!

  • Jen
    December 28, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I thought there would be shrimp in this for some reason – actually that would be a good addition!

  • jenna
    December 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

    YUM! I’m going to have to make this!

  • Janna
    December 28, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I’ve never actually eaten black eyed peas on new year’s (and didn’t know it was called hoppin john), I think this year we’re eating chocolate covered strawberries, little toasts with red caviar (gotta go to the Russian grocery store for this) and champagne!

  • Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe
    December 28, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Wow, that looks delicious! I just printed the recipe, thanks for sharing!

  • Anne P
    December 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Yum! The only time I’ve had hoppin’ john (or heard of it) is still when I was out visiting you for new years. 🙂 Miss you! xo

  • Elisabeth
    December 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

    We always have pork & sauerkraut for our lucky New Year’s meal 🙂

  • Luv What You Do
    December 28, 2011 at 6:47 am

    This reminds me of living in Memphis…except that they fried their salads…ha ha!

    Happy New Year!

  • R @ Learning As I Chop
    December 28, 2011 at 7:14 am

    You ever watch Boardwalk Empire? One character on that show LOVES this dish

    • Alicia
      January 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

      My husband wanted me to make this for New Year’s mostly because of that scene with Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire! We made the recipe and really enjoyed it.

  • Cait's Plate
    December 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I love hoppin’ john! I’ve had a vegetarian version before that was absolutely to die for but I’ve heard adding chorizo to it is really delicious as well.

  • Erin
    December 28, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Jenna, this is an article in the NTTimes about Southern cooking and it centers around the Charleston area. As a fellow CofC alum I thought you might enjoy it .

  • Crystal Limehouse
    December 28, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Traditionally served with collard greens, to bring you money. Happy New Year!

  • Laura @ A Healthy Jalapeño
    December 28, 2011 at 7:48 am

    This looks right up my alley. Healthy and spicy! Love it

  • Mal @ The Chic Geek
    December 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

    oooh, what a great twist on black eye peas for New Year’s (my mom is a southerner, so I grew up having them every New Years Day and can’t not have them on new years, hehe)

  • Emily (Edible Psychology)
    December 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I’ve never heard of Hoppin’ John either! It sounds delicious, and since it sounds like you can make it lots of different ways, I am definitely going to try making a dairy-free version. I think everyone could use some more luck for the new year! 😉

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    December 28, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I’ve never even heard of it, let alone tried it but it looks delicious. There’s nothing in there I don’t like.

  • Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee
    December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I’ve seen recipes for Hoppin’ John but have never tried it. It can be a brunch or supper dish, right? Your photography is stunning!

  • Sarah (I Dream of Beets)
    December 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Another must try. My grocery bill will be absurd this week. Ah well.

  • joelle (on apink typewriter)
    December 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Sounds like a fun tradition! I’ve heard of this before actually, but never tried it!

  • Sarah
    December 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I’ve never had hoppin’ john before, but this looks delish! Since the husband and I went veggie, we’ve been eating a lot more bean/rice combos, and this looks like a great one to add to a future menu plan!

  • cyrena
    December 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

    i’ve definitely heard of hoppin’ john being from mississippi, but i love the idea another person mentioned of adding chorizo to this dish. i have some soyrizo in the freezer that would make it spicy w/o having to go find peppers at the store. i bet it would be awesome! i’m making chicken tortilla soup for my family for new year’s eve, and i think i’ll send them home with some hoppin’ john for new year’s day.

  • Deanna B.
    December 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Yum! Spicy cheese and beans? Sold. I’m off to buy black eyed peas.

  • Kate
    December 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

    My mom’s hoppin’ john is closer to your black eyed pea stew with andouille sausage, but I have to try this. Looks like a crisp, fresh alternative to all the heavy food I’ve been eating lately.

  • Lauren
    December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Never had this before, but it sounds super yummy!!

  • Amanda at the red table
    December 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve never heard of a hoppin’ john before…but it looks really good. And we could all use a little luck right? I’ve never had black eyed peas — is that weird?

  • veronica
    December 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    This looks wonderfully yummy…can you suggest any substitute for black eyed peas…would any bean do?

    • jenna
      December 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Well you could make it with any bean but then it won’t be traditional Hoppin’ John—it would just be beans and rice! 😉

  • Christina
    December 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Love Hoppin’ John. I am not American-born or Southern-born, just a plain ol’ city girl from Asia who ended up in the South in the U.S.A.
    LOVE Hoppin’ John. In fact, I make it all throughout the year. Oooh Sooo Good!

  • Kris
    December 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I really hate black eyed peas. And we too eat them every year on New Years Day for good luck.

    They taste like dirt to me. Blech. But this recipe might be a winner. All those yummy ingredients will disguise their bland flavor. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll give it a try.

  • DessertForTwo
    December 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I absolutely have to have black eyed peas on new year’s day too! Such a fun Southern tradition. I add a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes…that might be the Texas variation 🙂

    P.S. Your trip to the piney woods of east Texas sounds fab! 🙂

  • Moni'sMeals
    December 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm


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  • Kristie
    January 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I’m eating this right now and it is awesome! Don’t forget the relish!

  • andrenna
    January 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    made this today and it’s delicious! i used 2 seeded jalapenos instead of a serrano and added some apple cider vinegar to the salad for added flavor. yum.

  • cluttercafe
    January 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Happy New Year Jenna! I just made this and wow is it delicious! I did add a couple of slices of chopped bacon and used light mayo, but otherwise followed the recipe. I imagine it is healthy enough to help me get into my bathing suit also. Looks like a great addition to my lunch bag. Thanks!

  • Kim
    January 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    What a cool tradition! I never heard of hopping john before, but it sounds yummy!

  • JenE
    January 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    THIS ROCKS. whole family loved it….. good for lunches, healthy, YUM.
    Couldn’t resist serving w/ avocado & some leftover steak, and a little lime juice of course 🙂
    This will be a staple for our house, we are going to have a very lucky year!

  • Beth B
    January 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for this great recipe, Jenna! It has now become our New Year’s staple. It’s so much better than plain black-eyed peas.

  • Maria
    January 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I’ve never eaten black eye peas on New Years Day before…until this year, when I saw your recipe. It was delicious!! I have a new tradition for New Years now. Thank you!

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