Southern Black Eyed Pea Salad

A serving bowl of black eyed pea salad.
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This easy to make black eyed pea salad is creamy, light and herbal. It goes great with roast chicken or pork and is a delicious make ahead side dish for your next barbecue. You’ll love the mellow flavors in the homemade dressing with malt and champagne vinegars, fresh herbs and a hint of lemon zest.

chopping a trio of bell peppers.

Why I’m updating the black bean salad recipe

I shared this black bean salad recipe for the first time back in 2014. The recipe itself was great, but the pictures needed updating, I wanted to include instructions for cooking the black eyed peas with the Instant Pot and there have been some other developments.

The recipe is based on one I found 6 years ago in the Blackberry Farm Cookbook {affiliate link} by Sam Beall, owner and proprietor at the elegant and acclaimed Blackberry Farm located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

I admit, at the time, I was infatuated, not just with the cookbook and the gorgeous photos of the farm (a Relais and Chateau destination which I hope to visit one day), but also with Sam Beall. A very handsome man, indeed — and he could cook. Bonus!

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Tragically, he died in a skiing accident in 2016. I remember reading the article in the newspaper and being haunted by his death — affecting me like Anthony Bourdain’s passing. Beall was only 39 years old. It was a devastating loss felt across the epicurean community.

So, my re-do of this recipe is as much homage to Sam Beall as it is to update this post.

Incidentally, I have tweaked the black eyed pea salad a bit over the years, adding mint and a heavier dose of fresh herbs. It’s my go-to make-ahead side dish for summer cookouts or Sunday night roasts.

Start making this recipe the day before you want to serve the salad, so the black eyed peas can rehydrate and the peppers can soak in the marinade.

There are two components for this salad. The black eyed peas and the marinated peppers. You’ll can prep for both the day before. Don’t worry – it doesn’t take long.

marinating the bell peppers in malt and champagne vinegars.

For the marinated bell peppers

  • Champagne Vinegar
  • Malt Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Scallions
  • Fresh Tarragon
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Yellow Bell Pepper
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper

The malt and champagne vinegar dressing is simple to assemble. Just add the ingredients and whisk to combine.

When chopping the bell peppers, try to dice them into roughly the same size as the beans.

Combine the peppers with the dressing and let the flavors marry in the refrigerator overnight. Marinating will soften the vegetables, so rather than being crunchy in the salad, they’ll meld with the creamy black eyed peas.

soaking black eyed peas.

Two ways to cook black eyed peas

I recommend using dried black eyed peas for this salad rather than canned. Canned black eyed peas can have a “tinny” taste and the texture tends to be grainier and not as creamy as when I make them myself.

Because the bell peppers have to marinate overnight, I figure it’s not a problem to rehydrate the peas overnight too. Just cover with 3 inches of water and let them rest on the counter until the next day.

Why pre-soak black eyed peas?

The benefit of presoaking legumes is that it cuts down on the cooking time by about 25% and because they rehydrate slowly, you get less split black eyed peas, which means they’ll stay whole in your salad instead of breaking down and becoming mushy.

cooking black eyed peas in the instant pot for the salad.

What if I forgot to presoak?

Don’t panic. If you’re planning to simmer your legumes on the stovetop, follow the quick soak method for them, then proceed to the rest of the recipe.

If you’re planning to use the Instant Pot to cook your beans, you’re in luck, because you can actually save a step.

Black eyed peas that have been soaked overnight only take 10 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot.

If you didn’t soak them first, dried black eyed peas will take 18 minutes to cook, but you can save steps. Here’s how:

  1. Just add the dried black eyed peas to the pressure cooker. Instead of cooking them in water first, add the broth, water, bacon and bay leaves to the pressure cooker.
  2. Set the Instant Pot it to high pressure and cook for 18 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure reduce naturally for 10 minutes, then use the rapid release valve.
marinated bell peppers

Once the beans are cooked, let them cool to room temperature then add the marinated peppers, the lemon zest and the remaining tarragon, thyme and mint.

Be mindful when you mix the legumes with the other ingredients. They can easily break apart, so be careful not to stir too aggressively.

Serve the black eyed pea salad at room temperature (or even slightly warm). It’s really good with a flurry of freshly chopped herbs sprinkled on top of each plate.

a bowl of black eyed pea salad with a spoon.

This simple side dish is a refreshing change from the standard bean salad recipes out there.

Marinating the trio of bell peppers in homemade champagne and malt vinegar dressing overnight softens their crunch and gives the black eyed pea salad a soft, lush flavor and texture.

What does black eyed pea salad go with:

backlit picture of black eyed pea salad.

More legume side dishes:

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A serving bowl of bean salad.
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4.41 from 5 votes

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

A light, delicate salad with hints of tarragon mint and lemon.  Goes great with grilled chicken or pork
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword bell peppers, black eyed peas
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 45 minutes
Servings 8


  • Dutch Oven or Pressure Cooker


  • 1 lb dried black-eyed peas
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves chopped, divided
  • teaspoons black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cored seeded, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper cored seeded, diced
  • 3 scallions thinly sliced on a bias
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon zested
  • teaspoons mint leaves chopped


  • Place beans in a large pot. Sort through the beans and remove any foreign material (i.e. pebbles, poor quality beans etc.) Add enough water to cover beans by about 3 inches. Soak overnight at room temperature.
  • In a large bowl add champagne and malt vinegars, olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add bell peppers, scallions, garlic and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


  • You can cook the black eyed peas two ways, In a heavy stock pot or dutch oven or in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. I’ve made it both ways and they take about the same amount of time (because the pressure cooker takes time to come to full pressure and release pressure). That said, I think the Instant pot is gentler on the beans than cooking on the stovetop.


  • Drain the peas. Add bacon, stock, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and bacon, discard.


  • Drain the black eyed peas and transfer to the Instant Pot. Add bacon, stock, water and bay leaves. Set the instant pot to high presure for 10 minutes.
  • You can do a quick release on the beans or let the pressure reduce naturally.


  • Drain the black eyed peas in a colander. Add beans to the pepper vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Rest for 30 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and remaining thyme and tarragon as well as the mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.


Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 307mg | Potassium: 794mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1091IU | Vitamin C: 75mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 6mg

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a pin of the salad.

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  1. 5 stars
    I usually cook my black eyed peas with a slice or 2 of minced bacon then proceed to use…this salad is beautiful and the colors vibrant. Will try this very soon!

  2. Giovanna @ Love, Thyme and Honey says:

    5 stars
    I love bean salads and this one looks absolutely delicious! 🙂

  3. Giovanna @ Love, Thyme and Honey says:

    I love bean salad! This one looks amazing! 🙂