Vegetarian Black Eyed Peas Recipe (Hoppin’ John)

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This vegetarian black eyed peas recipe for Hoppin’ John is a healthy and meatless version of the southern classic. Onions, bell pepper, celery, and kale are sautéed in spices with black eyed peas and a smoky finish served with brown rice. It’s a complete meal in one pan!

This easy vegetarian Hoppin’ John recipe is a delicious and nutritious weeknight meal. It’s made with brown rice, tons of veggies, and black eyed peas. Packed full of flavor this is a great family meal that everyone will love!

This is a great recipe for when you don’t know what to have for dinner. It’s made with pantry basics and comes together so quickly, but tastes like it’s been cooking all day.

We lightened up the traditional ham hock version of Hoppin John with a vegetarian friendly option that is so hearty, even the meat eaters you serve it to will love it!

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👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Packed with fresh veggies
  • Perfect dish for new year’s day or anytime of the year
  • Made in the southern style, but plant based
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Gluten Free
  • Tastes Great
  • Super Filling Dish
  • Best vegetarian black eyed peas recipe ever!

🥘 Ingredients

This vegan black eyed peas recipe calls for simple ingredients that can be found at most grocery stores. For step by step instructions and nutrition information, see the recipe card below.

ingredients for easy vegetarian black eyed peas recipe - vegan hoppin john

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic and Salt: The base of flavor for this tasty meal! You can also use coconut oil if you don’t have olive oil.
  • Veggies: I used onions, red bell pepper, celery, and kale but you can really use any veggies you have on hand. Baby spinach or mustard greens would work great instead of the kale,
  • Brown Basmati Rice: I like to cook the rice in vegetable stock for additional flavor, but you can cook it in water as well.
  • Spices: You’ll need smoked paprika (or liquid smoke), regular paprika, dried thyme, crushed red pepper flakes (or hot sauce or cayenne pepper), and black pepper for this black eyed pea recipe. If you don’t have this particular mix of spices, cajun seasoning would also work. Feel free to add a bay leaf for more flavor.
  • Canned black-eyed peas: Because you can’t make Hoppin Johns without this key ingredient! I like to use canned beans to save on time, but you can use dried beans as well. Just be sure to soak peas if you’re using them dry before cooking them. If you don’t have black eyed peas, black beans or pinto beans would both work in this recipe.
  • Toppings: Diced tomato and green onions add brightness and crunch to finish this black eyed pea stew.

🔪 Instructions

StoveTop

Step 1: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery; sauté 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2-3 more minutes.

veggies stir fried in a pot

Step 2: Cook brown rice according to package directions. For best results, cook in vegetable broth for more flavor. Add spices (salt through black pepper) and kale to the large skillet, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat, cook another 5-10 minutes until combined.

kale added to pot

Step 3: Add black eyed peas and cook another 5-10 minutes until tender.

kale, veggies, rice and black eyed peas added to pot

Step 4: Add in cooked rice, stir until combined. Add more salt and spices to taste, if needed.

rice added to pot

Step 5: Serve this healthy black eyed peas recipe with diced tomato and green onions for topping.

kale, veggies, rice and black eyed peas added to pot

Instant Pot

To cut down on the cooking time, you can also make pressure cooker or instant pot black eyed peas. To make in the instant pot:

  • Press the sauté button and saute the onion, olive oil and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients into the instant pot
  • Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes, then manual release pressure.

❓Recipe FAQs

What makes this Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas recipe healthy?

Typically, Hoppin John isn’t super healthy because it’s high in saturated fat and calories. But this version is much healthier than the classic recipe for a few reasons:

1) Loaded with Vegetables: This vegetarian Hoppin Johns is loaded with nutrient rich veggies. Onions and garlic are naturally anti-fungal and antibacterial, making them a natural antibiotic. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Kale is a superfood with a variety of nutrients and celery contains vitamins A, K, and C, and potassium and folate.

2) Low in Fat and Calories: The traditional Hoppin’ John recipe calls for bacon. Leaving the bacon out of this vegan version reduces the fat and calories. Each hearty serving is only 383 calories, with 21g of protein and only 1g of saturated fat.

3) High in Fiber: Black eyed peas are high in plant protein and fiber. They help reduce the risk of heart disease, and cholesterol. Additionally, the traditional version uses Carolina yellow rice. Brown rice is used in this to increase the fiber.

What are black eyed peas?

Black-eyed peas are part of the family of beans & peas. Although called a pea, it is actually a bean. Black-eyed peas are packed with health benefits: they contain anti-inflammatory compounds, fiber, and protein.

Why is this vegetarian black eyed peas recipe called Hoppin’ John? 

Hoppin’ John has it’s roots in the Southern US and is often known as Carolina peas and rice. Made with black eyed peas, rice, onion and seasoned, it’s a simple dish that’s made in one pot. Traditionally bacon is added, but this is obviously omitted in my vegan version.

According to the website History, in their article Hoppin’ John A New Year’s Tradition, there are several different stories regarding where the name Hoppin’ John originated. Hoppin’ John is a dish that originated in South Carolina during the slave trade.

One story says that it got its name from an old man named Hoppin’ John who sold peas and rice in Charleston. The most plausible story according to historians is that the name derives from the french phrase for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

Why do people eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day?

This traditional southern dish is eaten on New Year’s Day in many southern homes because it represents luck in the coming year. Hoppin John is often served with cornbread and collard greens, representing gold and paper money, while the black eyed peas represent coins. 

🧊 How To Store

This is a great dish to make a large batch of as it keeps really well! Let any leftovers cool completely, then place in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for around 5 days in the fridge, and can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. It is great eaten when just cooked, but you can also have this as a cold lunch (like a cold salad!).

👨‍👩‍👧 How To Serve

This quick vegetarian black eyed peas recipe is one bowl meal. It’s full of vegetables, protein, and whole grains. But if you’re looking to go the traditional route or want to serve it on New Year’s Day for good luck, serve it with golden cornbread and collard greens. Top with diced onions and fresh tomatoes.

If you’re making this recipe for kids, feel free to reduce the amount of kale (if your kids aren’t a fan), or you can chop up the kale super fine so that when it cooks down it resembles more of an herb than a leafy green! You can also reduce the spices to suit your kids’ palates.

💭 Expert Tips

  • You don’t need a lot of oil to sauté the vegetables. Adding too much oil increases the fat and calories. You need just enough to coat the vegetables, 1 tablespoon.
  • Add the garlic after the other vegetables have sautéed. This will keep the garlic from burning and enhance the garlic flavor.
  • Brown rice can take 45-55 minutes to cook. Start cooking the brown rice before you begin chopping your vegetables for this Vegan Hoppin’ John recipe so that is ready when it’s time to add it to the sauté pan. 
  • Drain and rinse the black eyed peas before adding them to the pan.
  • The smoky paprika is what gives this dish a smoky flavor with using bacon. You can increase this spice if you like a smokier finish. Or if you want that meaty bacon texture, feel free to add in some diced vegan bacon.
  • To make this vegetarian black eyed peas and greens for kids: cut back or remove the crushed pepper and smoked paprika, and chop the veggies up super small.

easy vegetarian black eyed peas recipe - vegan hoppin john on a white plate

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📋 Recipe Card

Vegetarian Black Eyed Peas Recipe

This vegetarian black eyed peas recipe for Hoppin’ John is a healthy and meatless version of the southern classic. Onions, bell pepper, celery, and kale are sautéed in spices with black eyed peas and a smoky finish served with brown rice. It’s a complete meal in one pan!

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time30 mins

Total Time35 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Servings: 6

Calories: 383kcal


Top Tips for Making this Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Recipe

  • You don’t need a lot of oil to sauté the vegetables. Adding too much oil increases the fat and calories. You need just enough to coat the vegetables, 1 tablespoon.
  • Add the garlic after the other vegetables have sautéed. This will keep the garlic from burning and enhance the garlic flavor.
  • Brown rice can take 45-55 minutes to cook. Start cooking the brown rice before you begin chopping your vegetables for the Vegan Hoppin’ Johns so that is ready when it’s time to add it to the sauté pan. 
  • Drain and rinse the black eyed peas before adding them to the pan.
  • The smoky paprika is what gives this dish a smoky flavor with using bacon. You can increase this spice if you like a smokier finish.
  • Cut back or remove the crushed pepper and smoked paprika if you want to make it subtler for the kids.


Adapted from this recipe

Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 418mg | Potassium: 1104mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 12g