Slow Cooker Dried Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day are so easy to make in the slow cooker. You don’t need to soak them first.
I repeat, don’t soak the dried beans before cooking!
We first published a story about this back in December of 2014! It’s worth reading again. Not just for the New Year’s Day good luck, but year around for cooking all kinds dried beans–delicious, economical and healthful.
“They” always tell you to soak dried beans before cooking, so that’s what I did. The bean lore says that soaking cuts reduces both cooking time and the unmentionable flatulence issue. Thanks to Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons, I’m over soaking. Russ did the definitive study 1994 and continues to profess that beans have a better texture and deeper beany flavor when not soaked.
In fact, he completely debunked all the rules concluding (a) the flatulence problem is an old wive’s tale, (b) it’s okay to add the salt whenever you want, and (c) unsoaked beans don’t take much longer to cook. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats also performed his own set of unsoaked and soaked beans cooking tests and came to the same conclusion.
Parsons preferred the oven method, while Lopez-Alt stuck to the traditional stovetop method. Instead, I’ve tested non-soaking in both the slow cooker and the pressure cooker and I’ll never soak again. I use either method depending on how fast I want the beans. I prefer the slow cooker because you can’t check the bean cooking time in the pressure cooker and there’s just no way to know the exact cooking time for your particular bean without plenty of experience with your cooker. Even then, the timing also depends on the particular batch of beans.
On the other hand, slow cooker beans don’t need exact cooking times. The slow cooker is a very forgiving appliance and you can check the bean doneness easily by just lifting the lid and adding water as needed. An hour or two of extra time does’t seem to matter and the gentle cooking keeps the beans beautifully intact. Also, you don’t have to turn on the oven, you don’t have to check to see if you’re burning them on the stove, and you don’t even have to be at home. Simply cover the beans with water by about 3-inches above the beans. It’s a big win any way you look at it.
Okay, we all agree that you still may want to soak giant limas and hard chick peas, but the rest of your everyday beans like black, pinto, black-eyed peas, baby limas and white beans are ready to go as is. And those old beans in the back of the pantry (how many years have they been in there?) will be quite tough, so I say don’t bother with them. Get yourself a fresh pack and toss out the old beans. It’s not worth your time or the risk of a lousy pot of tough beans.
If you are not a bean cooker, a pot of good luck black-eyed peas for the New Year is a great time to start. Before the partying begins, plug in the slow cooker and add dried black-eyed peas, some chopped onion, a few cloves of smashed garlic and if you want meaty flavor add a smoked ham hock, ham bone, a chunk of fatback or country ham, and some salt and black pepper. Add plenty of water. Cover the pot and turn it on. Use high or low. Low overnight works brilliantly. High will cut the cooking time down and hour or two. They’ll be perfect. You can use this same recipe with any small bean.
For New Year’s Day dinner we’ll be enjoying our black-eyed peas with a big pot of turnip and mustard greens, skillet cornbread, and ham steaks on the grill.
Here’s Russ Parson’s black bean recipe. I’d make them in the crock-pot!
Slow-Cooker Black-eyed Peas (or any bean you like)
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound dried black-eyed peas (about 2 cups), sorted and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 small ham hock, ham bone, a chunk of fatback or ham, optional
Plenty of water
Combine all the ingredients except the water in a 4 to 5-quart slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches. Cook on high about 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours.
Note: Use meat if you like, the beans taste great without, too. Try the same method with any small bean like white, black, pinto or baby limas.