Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John

Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John is a beloved Southern dish that stands as a testament to the region’s culinary heritage. Its origins can be traced back to West African, Caribbean, and American Southern influences, creating a melting pot of flavors and traditions. This dish is a true embodiment of history on a plate, each ingredient telling a story of its own.

Its rich history is interwoven with the struggles and resilience of the American South, particularly during the time of slavery and the Civil War. Black-eyed peas, the main ingredient, have a symbolic significance as they were often considered a symbol of good luck and were believed to bring prosperity.

Beyond its historical roots, Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John has evolved into a timeless comfort food that transcends generations. It embodies warmth and nourishment, making it the perfect dish to gather around with family and friends. The act of sharing this meal not only nourishes the body but also strengthens bonds and traditions, passing down the love for Hoppin’ John from one generation to the next.

The cultural significance of this dish is most pronounced on New Year’s Day. Many Southern families have a longstanding tradition of serving Hoppin’ John on January 1st, believing that it brings good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. The black-eyed peas symbolize coins, the rice represents wealth, and the greens (often served alongside) symbolize money, all coming together to create a wish for financial abundance and a bright future.

Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John is not just about the ingredients and flavors; it’s about connecting with history, heritage, and a sense of belonging. It’s a dish that embodies the spirit of the South, inviting you to savor its rich past while indulging in its hearty, flavorful present. So, whether enjoyed on a special occasion or as a comforting weeknight meal, Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John carries with it a taste of tradition, a slice of history, and a whole lot of heart.

Selecting the Right Ingredients:

  • Black-Eyed Peas: Start with high-quality dried black-eyed peas. Look for ones that are unblemished and without any off-odors. Soak them overnight or use the quick soak method to reduce cooking time.
  • Protein: While a ham hock or smoked turkey leg adds a smoky depth of flavor, you can also use bacon, smoked sausage, or even vegetarian options like smoked paprika for a similar effect.
  • Aromatics: Freshness is key when it comes to onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Ensure they are firm and free of mold or sprouting.
  • Seasonings: Opt for dried thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and high-quality salt and black pepper for maximum flavor.
  • Rice: Long-grain white rice is the traditional choice, but you can experiment with brown rice or other grains for a healthier twist.

How to Make Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John:

  • Preparation: Rinse the dried black-eyed peas thoroughly and soak them overnight in water or use the quick soak method. Drain and rinse before adding them to the slow cooker.
  • Layer Ingredients: Place the soaked peas, chopped onion, green bell pepper, minced garlic, and your choice of protein (ham hock, smoked turkey leg, or alternative) in the slow cooker.
  • Seasoning: Sprinkle in dried thyme, oregano, add a bay leaf, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Remember that you can always adjust the seasonings later, so don’t go overboard.
  • Slow Cook: Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Let it cook for about 6-8 hours or until the peas are tender and the flavors meld together beautifully.
  • Prepare Rice: About 30 minutes before serving, cook the rice separately according to the package instructions. Fluff it up with a fork when done.
  • Final Touch: Once the black-eyed peas are tender, remove the ham hock or turkey leg (if used), shred the meat, and return it to the slow cooker for added flavor.
  • Serve and Customize: Plate your Hoppin’ John by spooning it over a bed of rice. Feel free to add hot sauce, sliced green onions, or a dash of vinegar for extra zest.

Variations and Substitutions:

  • Vegetarian Twist: Skip the meat and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. Smoked paprika or liquid smoke can add a smoky flavor.
  • Spicy Kick: If you love heat, add diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes to the mix.
  • Grain Diversification: Experiment with different grains like quinoa, farro, or barley for a unique twist.
  • Customize with Veggies: Enhance the dish with vegetables like collard greens, okra, or diced tomatoes for added color and nutrients.
  • Protein Choices: Besides ham and turkey, try using andouille sausage or even shrimp for a seafood twist.

Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John


  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham hock or smoked turkey leg for flavor (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • Hot sauce (optional, for serving)


  • Rinse the dried black-eyed peas and place them in your slow cooker.
  • Add the water, chopped onion, green bell pepper, minced garlic, and the ham hock or smoked turkey leg (if using) to the slow cooker.
  • Season with thyme, oregano, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the peas are tender.
  • About 30 minutes before serving, cook the rice separately according to the package instructions.
  • Once the black-eyed peas are tender, remove the ham hock or turkey leg (if used) and shred the meat. Add the meat back into the slow cooker.
  • Serve the Hoppin’ John over a bed of rice, and don’t forget to offer some hot sauce on the side for those who like it spicy.
Share via
Copy link