Hoppin’ John Recipe

Hi and happy holiday week! Are you in a cookie coma?  If yes, please allow me to revive you with a steaming serving of this healthy Hoppin’ John recipe.

Easy Vegetarian Hoppin’ John! A healthy twist on traditional Southern Hoppin’ John that cooks in ONE PAN. Made with with rice, black eyed peas, and greens. Great for New Years or anytime you need a fast dinner recipe!

This recipe is sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada.

A savory, smoky mix of black eyed peas, rice, and greens, Hoppin’ John is a traditional New Year’s Day meal in the South.

It’s also easy to make, richly flavored, and, if you follow this particular healthy vegetarian Hoppin’ John recipe, includes every food group in a single meal.

I’d vaguely heard of the tradition-meets-superstition that eating Hoppin’ John on January 1 brings prosperity in the new year. While I can’t personally vouch that the lore is true (ask me in 2019), I CAN assure you that this easy Hoppin’ John recipe is one you are going to want to eat year-round.

Easy Hoppin John recipe with canned black eyed peas, brown rice, and kale.

Now, I am not going to pretend that this is a traditional Southern style Hoppin’ John recipe, BUT considering how tasty it turned out, that it’s filled with healthy ingredients, and that it can be on your table in minutes instead of hours, I’m feeling very comfortable with this weeknight adaptation.

For those who would like a more in-depth history of Hoppin’ John, I found a great article in Serious Eats. Here are some of the highlights:

What Does Hoppin’ John Mean?

Hoppin’ John is a simple but rich pea, rice, and pork dish often called Carolina Peas and Rice. While there are several debated meanings of the actual words “Hoppin’ John,” the most commonly accepted explanation is that Hoppin’ John is a corruption of the French phrase pois à pigeon, which means “pigeon peas.” Like much else about Hoppin’ John, however, plenty of people disagree with that idea too.

My conclusion: We will always be debating what Hoppin’ John means. Let’s do so over a shared plate of this fragrant, soul-satisfying meal, shall we?

What Are the Ingredients of Hoppin’ John?

The first Hoppin’ John recipe appeared in The Carolina Housewife in 1857 and called for one pint of rice, one pint of peas, and one pound of bacon. Today, there are many variations of Hoppin’ John, now including this one.

Hoppin’ John is traditionally served with collard greens, whose green color symbolizes wealth. The black eyed peas are symbolic of coins (more good fortune), and an actual coin is sometimes added to the pot.

Today’s Hoppin’ John Recipe

Seeking a Hoppin’ John recipe that would be healthy and weeknight friendly, I took a few departures from the traditional version to create a vegetarian Hoppin’ John that has the spirit of the original but with a shorter prep time and more complete nutritional profile.

  • In place of Carolina gold rice, you’ll find whole-grain brown rice.
  • Collard greens are swapped for kale, which cooks more quickly.
  • Instead of bacon, I used a generous spoonful of smoked paprika, which offers the same addictive, smoky flavor.
  • Rather than fuss with soaking dried black eyed peas for hours, I reached for canned black eyed peas instead.

Hoppin’ John history and a recipe for easy traditional southern style Hoppin’ John that cooks in one pan!

If you aren’t familiar with black eyed peas, New Year’s is the perfect time to get acquainted. In addition to their ties to good fortune, black eyed peas are rich in fiber and protein and are easy to add to all kinds of soups, salads, and, of course, lucky Hoppin’ John.

Despite their name, black eyed peas are not peas at all (tricky!). They belong to a family called “pulses,” a group that includes other stellar healthy ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and many beans. Adding a few extra servings of pulses to your diet is an effortless, affordable way to increase your nutrient intake.

If you are looking for easy ideas to eat healthier in the new year, check out the USA Pulses’ “Half-Cup Habit” campaign. Participants pledge to add 1/2 cup of pulses to their diet three days a week, a goal that is both delicious and achievable. You can sign up here.

Vegetarian Hoppin John recipe with canned black eyed peas, rice, and greens. Easy, fast, and and healthy!

In addition to this vegetarian Hoppin’ John, for more tasty recipes that use pulses, check out my Instant Pot Chili, Stuffed Butternut Squash, and any of these chickpea, black bean, or lentil recipes.

Easy Vegetarian Hoppin’ John! A healthy twist on traditional Southern Hoppin’ John that cooks in ONE PAN. Made with with rice, black eyed peas, and greens. Great for New Years or anytime you need a fast dinner recipe!
4.88 from 8 votes
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Hoppin' John

Yield: 4 –6 servings, about 8 cups
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
Easy vegetarian Hoppin John recipe. A healthy twist on traditional Southern style Hoppin John made with with rice, black eyed peas, and greens. Great for New Years or anytime you need a fast dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper — diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper — diced
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 medium carrots — peeled and diced (about 10 ounces)
  • 3 large cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper — plus additional to taste
  • 1 small bunch kale — trimmed and chopped (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas — (15 ounce cans) (about 3 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes — (14 ounces)
  • Prepared brown rice — for serving
  • Chopped green onions — optional for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the red and green bell peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Working in small handfuls, stir in the kale, stirring after each addition to let it wilt slightly before adding another handful. Cook and stir until you can fit all of the kale in the pot.
  3. Add the black-eyed peas and tomatoes with their juices. Stir and continue to cook until heated through, about 2 additional minutes. Taste and add additional salt or spices as desired. Serve hot with rice and a sprinkle of green onion.
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy Vegetarian Recipe, Hoppin' John

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6), about 1 1/2 cups with 1/2 prepared brown rice) — Calories: 312, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 608mg, Carbohydrates: 53g, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 10g, Protein: 12g

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I am sharing this post in partnership with USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

Easy Vegetarian Hoppin’ John! A healthy twist on traditional Southern Hoppin’ John made with with rice, black eyed peas, and greens. Great for New Years or anytime you need a fast dinner recipe! #healthy #hoppinjohn #newyears #easy #vegetarian

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

26 comments

  1. Never heard of Hoppin John, but now I know all about it and can’t wait to try this recipe! Looks delish!

  2. hey girl- this looks amazing! Hope y’all had a great Christmas!

  3. I can’t remember if I’ve ever made hopping john – I know I’ve had a recipe before.  I think that what makes this one is the smoked paprika.  At some point I hope to try it, but this new year’s day  and for the next 4 months I won’t be cooking at all.  The way my life is scheduled right now, if I save it for New Year’s day, it will be 2020 before I can make it!

  4. Such a hearty and healthy way to kick off 2018!

  5. I love a healthy twist on a classic! Looks delicious!

  6. Made this last night as an early New Year’s Day dish for our black eye peas and it was delicious. Everyone enjoyed it and I would definitely make again. Wouldn’t change a thing

  7. Thanks for this delicious and nutritious dinner idea. Even though I ate it on January 2nd, hopefully it will still bring me luck this year. I needed to cook the vegetables quite a bit longer to get them to brown, as there were so many in the pot that they initially just steamed. After that, though it was a breeze.

  8. This was fabulous! I admit to adding 4 slices chopped bacon with the onions. ? My family had never had this dish before a d we all loved it. I will definitely be making it again.

  9. My last review was supposed to be 5 star but my early morning eyes and fingers failed me so here’s a 5 star. Thanks, Erin!

  10. Hoppin’ John has been a family favorite for years, so I met with much skepticism when planning to give your recipe a try. I’m happy to report it was a HUGE success! Everyone loved it. As it is so much healthier than the old standard, this will be our new go-to Hoppin’ John. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you and your family a belated Happy New Year!!

    • HOORAY Lori! I’m so glad to hear the recipe was a hit. I’m thrilled this dish will become a family tradition for you—thank you so much for taking the time to share this review!

  11. Loved this recipe.  Super easy. My husband loves New Years black eyed peas. I made this recipe with the slow cooker ribs.  Both and so far all the recipes I’ve tried from your website have been outstanding.   Healthy, delicious and easy.  Thank u!

  12. You mentioned smoked  paprika for this recipe. But what can you use in place of it, if you don’t have it?

    • Hi AnnaMae, the paprika is a tricky swap because of its unique smoky flavor. I’m seeing some online recommendations of using regular paprika with a pinch of cumin, or you could try using half the amount of chipotle chili powder, which will keep some of the smokiness. You could also try half the amount of regular chili powder and just know that you won’t have the same amount of smoky flavor. I hope you enjoy!

  13. Great recipe, was looking for something other than pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s day dinner, this vegetarian Hoppin John recipe did not disappoint. I used collard greens and a little less cayenne, other than that I followed the recipe. Served it with long grain and wild rice, excellent!

  14. If I need to serve 12 people should I double it?  5 cans seems like a lot of beans….There will be sides with it…

    If I need to reheat do you recommend microwave or back on the stove? 
    Thanks! Excited to try it! 

    • Hi Michaela, I would go ahead and double the recipe, unless your guests will just be sampling the hoppin’ john. It does reheat well either way!

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