smoky, spicy bbq baked black-eyed peas

Spicy, smoky barbecue black-eyed peasINTERVIEWING COOKBOOK AUTHORS can be hazardous work, causing unexpected detours to the grocery store in search of something you just suddenly must have–and then into the kitchen, to make something you just suddenly must try. Though I should be outside with my rake in hand, just such a side trip yesterday led me to a double batch of smoky, spicy barbecued black-eyed peas instead.

I was preparing to talk to cookbook author-food activist-cook Bryant Terry about his new cookbook, for an upcoming radio episode (more on that next week). But digging back through his earlier cookbooks, I came upon the idea of barbecued black-eyed peas.

They sounded like my barbecued baked lentils–but keeping in mind that “barbecue” never means the same thing in any two places. The difference? My lentils are more of a sweet barbecue sauce flavor; the black-eyed peas I “barbecued” inspired by Terry have a kick, and a smoky goodness. For my latest experiment, I took his idea of adding sautéed green pepper, plus chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (for heat and smokiness), and left out my usual molasses (one of two sweeteners I typically combine in my lentil recipe).

Either bean could be made with either sauce, I think.  Here’s how it went.

smoky, spicy bbq black-eyed peas

Serve over brown rice with a side of warm soft corn tortillas, or even roll the rice and beans mix up in the wraps. Portion “extras” of the beans into freezer jars for later use.


  • 6 cups soaked then cooked black-eyed peas (about 2 cups dry)
  • liquid reserved from cooking beans
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 diced medium green pepper (about a cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups whole tomatoes (I defrosted paste types, frozen from last year’s garden; you could use fresh, or canned)
  • one chipotle chile in adobo, plus a little of the sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons tamari
  • 4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (alternatives: ½ cup ketchup or ¼ cup tomato paste, either one mixed with ½ cup or so of cooking liquid reserved from beans)


  • Presoak beans overnight. (Or skip the soaking, altogether, says recent foodie-world chatter. You decide.)
  • Pre-cook beans in fresh water for about 45 minutes, or until barely tender, not fully cooked (which may be just 20 minutes, depending on if you soaked, and how long since the beans were harvested and dried).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Meantime, chop the onion, garlic, and green pepper, and sauté in olive oil until tender.
  • Chop one large chipotle in adobo. Add it along with a little of the accompanying sauce, plus the tomatoes, to the simmering vegetables. (See note below on those spicy, smoky chiles if you don’t use them regularly.)
  • Measure half (or about 3 cups) of the cooked, drained beans into each of two Pyrex 2-quart covered baking dishes (or all of it into one larger ovenproof vessel).
  • Add 2 Tbsp. vinegar; 2 Tbsp. tamari; and 2 Tbsp. maple syrup into each dish of beans; stir.
  • When the tomatoes in the sauté pan with the vegetables are soft, add half the mix plus half the tomato sauce or other tomato liquid into each baking dish of beans.  Also add one-half cup of reserved black-eyed pea cooking liquid to each batch. Stir.
  • Place dishes in oven, covered, for one-half hour, then uncover and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour longer. (If you used one large pot, the cooking will take longer, and your coaking and precooking times and the age of the beans if all part of the equation, too. See note below.)
  • Use reserved black-eyed pea cooking liquid to make the beans more or less saucy as you choose as they cook down. I made mine dry-ish, as you can see in the top photo–just a matter of taste.

About those chiles in adobo: I used less than half the contents of a 7.5-ounce can, freezing the rest for my next batch. That created a fairly spicy bean mix, so be careful if you don’t like heat. Don’t like heat at all? Well, maybe you belong back at my traditional barbecue baked lentils.

More about timing and soaking: My latest batch, I soaked for maybe 4 hours, simmered for 30 minutes, and then baked for more than 2 hours, covered, then another half-hour, uncovered. As with pasta: try some along the way before you end up with mush!

spicy bbq black-eyed peas

    1. Rhody says:

      The chipotle is not in the ingredient list, but is in the preparation part of the recipe, as the fifth step, which includes a reference to a note at the bottom of the recipe.

  1. CB says:

    I think it’s one chipotle chile from a small can (about 7-8 oz.), but I could be wrong. Look for “chipotle in adobo sauce” in the ethnic foods section of your market. Even Safeway has them. They are quite strong, so use them with restraint.

    Personally, I find black-eyed peas insipid at best and disgusting (when cooked with “country ham”) at worst. However, they are good for you and one must eat them on New Year’s Eve in order to survive the coming year. :-)

    This is the most appealing recipe I’ve seen to make the little buggers edible. I will substitute about two Anaheim chiles for the green pepper, and probably sub some salty chicken broth for the water, but with those changes I’m hoping for the best.

  2. Mathew G says:

    This looks great! I think this is a good time to use the Moro beans I’ve been saving for a special recipe, instead of blackeyed peas. Like CB who posted before me, I’ll probably substitute something for the bell pepper – Anahiem, or more likely, poblano.

  3. Vanessa M. says:

    Sounds delicious! I just consumed the rest of the black-eyed peas I froze from New Year’s day but I will keep the recipe in mind when I purchase my next batch (love black-eyed peas).

  4. Saiisha says:

    Oh I love black-eyed peas! I had made wraps stuffed with black eyed peas for lunch just yesterday, and here I see it on your newsletter today – who can’t be pleased with little synchronicities? :)

    1. margaret says:

      Me, too, Saiisha. Aren’t they delicious? And I love the perfect timing thing — funny how “great minds think alike,” huh? :)

  5. Leo says:

    OK, I am from the South but must admit I never had BBQ black eyed peas. I know black eye peas taste aren’t for everyone but how could you go wrong adding a touch of barbeque to the mix? This recipe is now on my ‘must try’ list, thanks for sharing.

  6. Paula Meyers says:

    The recipe looks great – although, the title says “smoky” – I didn’t see any “smoky” ingredient as in liquid smoke, which I would add to the concoction.

    Otherwise – looks good.

  7. Margaret Furey says:

    We had these for dinner. Loved this recipe!! I’m going to make a batch or two to stick in the freezer for a quick meal with cornbread or tortillas. Thank you!

  8. Dawn says:

    Hi Margaret, I made it to one of Terry Bryant’s vegetarian dinners in the heart of San Francisco. I drove 3 hrs from Northern CA to attend. The food was delish and I got a signed cookbook from him. I brought my sous chef son and husband. I admire his work as I was born in the heart of Oakland and although I don’t live there now I fully understand the weight of his educational burden he carries for his communities. Thank you for the yummy bean recipes, I’m always open for bringing New England closer to home.

    1. margaret says:

      Lucky you, Dawn. He is such an inspiration; I so enjoyed interviewing him last year. Thanks for giving me the update, and saying hello.

      1. Dawn says:

        Thank you Margaret, it was that interview you did that inspired me to look him up. You’re posts are always challenging, educational and inspiring. I look forward to reading each and every one.

  9. Lou Ray says:

    Can’t figure out how to print this good-looking recipe without the photos and the ads and all the other non-essential stuff. Any suggestions?

    1. margaret says:

      Sorry about that, Lou. I’d take a screengrab (snapshot) if it’s not working otherwise, then put that “image” in a Word document.

  10. Judeen says:

    I have made all your baked bean recipes – very tasty. Baked beans accompany all types of food well. Just put a pan of smokey, spicy, bbq in the oven. Yum.

  11. mindy arbo says:

    I am a big chipotle fan but as i am approaching 70, my tolerance for heat has decreased.To avoid even small chunks of chipotle in a dish, i use a fork to remove the canned chipotles from their sauce , then i puree them and store the container on the freezer door, using a fork to scrape out the readily-available amount needed.

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