Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

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So what’s the story with Black Eyed Peas supposedly bringing good luck to all who eat them in the New Year anyways? I guess Black Eyed Peas are a Southern thing. This southern California girl had never actually (knowingly) tasted a black eyed pea before dinner last night, and I quite liked them. I put them in a Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole.

Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

It’s one last hurrah of a comfort-food dish before the New Year begins. And it’s family- friendly too.

Black Eyed Peas

There they are in all their glory. Black Eyed Peas. They’re purdy little things, aren’t they? I suppose you could speed things up and use canned black eyed peas for this dish, but then it probably wouldn’t be quite as good now, would it?

Why should you eat Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day?

It started in the south, but eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year.  Dried black eyed peas swell when they cook (symbolizing prosperity), the spinach greens in the dish symbolize money, and the pork (bacon) in the dish symbolizes positive motion– because pigs root forward when they’re foraging.  It’s a tradition to eat something with black eyed peas on New Year’s Day!

How to Make Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole : pour peas in a pot of water

How to make Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole:

I read a lot about black eyed peas and how to prepare black eyed peas before I attempted this dish. Some folks soak them overnight. Some slow cook them. I went with the crowd that said that soaking wasn’t needed. I rinsed them, and then I boiled them for about 30 minutes. That gave me a tender black eyed pea, which is what I was hoping for in this recipe. Easy “pea”sy.

How to Make Black Eyed Pea Casserole : make the bacon in the oven

I add bacon to this recipe. It’s totally optional, but it totally makes this recipe better. In fact, it makes all recipes better and I wish I had added more. But I understand if you’re vegetarian and you’d like to leave it out. No wait, I don’t really understand that… because how could *anyone* actually survive without bacon?? (but I respect your vegetarian decision in any case 😉 )

How to Make Black Eyed Pea Casserole : stir in the rice

This is the 3rd thing you’re going to do: prep the rice. In fact, you’re doing all three of these things at once. The peas are boiling, the bacon is in the oven and the rice is simmering. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It’s all going at the same time. Onions and garlic are sautéed in a little olive oil, then add the rice, then broth, then simmer until the rice has (almost) absorbed the liquid.

It’s best if you use a sort of rice that takes about 20 minutes to cook.  If you want to use a rice with a longer cooking time, you’re going to have to account for that and adjust as needed.

How to Make Black Eyed Pea Casserole

Then dump the almost-done rice in a bowl.  Add tender- cooked black-eyed peas, a can of Ro-tel tomatoes, fresh spinach, BACON and cheese.  Mix it up.

Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole ready for the oven

Spread it into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Add some more cheese on top and bake for 10 more minutes.

Serving up Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

Ta Dah!

serving up Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

There’s good ‘ol down-home comfort right there.

serving of Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

Add a little sour cream, cilantro and sliced avocado, and your dish is complete!

Oh, and about those black-eyed peas… tradition says that the peas brings prosperity to those who eat them on New Year’s Day.  I guess it’s worth a shot, right?

A couple more recipes to make with black eyed peas is this delicious Cheesy Black Eyed Pea Dip or the classic Hoppin’ John. They’ve been big time favorites to serve on New Year’s Day while watching football games!

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5 from 3 votes

Tex Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

A very popular black eyed pea recipe to serve on New Year's Day for good luck!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 585kcal
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword black eyed pea casserole, black eyed peas casserole, tex mex black eyed pea casserole


  • cups dried black eyed peas, rinsed
  • 5 slices (or more!) bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium (1 cup) chopped onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • cups rice (one that can cook in 20 minutes)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, cut into strips
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • chopped cilantro, avocado & sour cream, for serving (optional)


  • Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the dried peas and boil for 30 minutes, or until tender (as tender as a canned bean would be). You don't want them to have much of a bite to them, but you don't want them mushy either. Drain the beans when you've got them where you want them.
  • In a deep medium skillet, heat the olive oil at medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then rice, broth, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 20 minutes (just until the rice has *almost* absorbed all of the liquid). Time will vary depending on the type of rice you choose to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scrape the rice into a large bowl. Add the peas, tomatoes, spinach, 1 cup of the cheese and bacon. Stir it all together and then scoop it into a 9x12-inch (or similarly sized) casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.
  • Serve in bowls topped with sour cream, fresh cilantro and sliced avocado (if desired).



  • *To convert to VEGAN: don't use bacon, use veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and Daiya shreds instead of cheddar. Add some chipotle chili pepper to add back some smokiness that the bacon would have provided (as well as a bit of a spicy kick).
  • *To convert to VEGETARIAN: don't use bacon, and use vegetable broth.
  • *Nutritional information does not include the optional toppings.
  • *If you are preparing this recipe as gluten free, just be sure to use brands of bacon and broth that are known to be GF.
    *Quick and Easy tips: You can certainly try substituting canned black eyed peas for the boiled dried beans in this recipe, and you can purchase the already cooked bacon too.
    *If you'd like to oven-fry your bacon-- it's so easy! Line a rimmed pan with foil. Lay your bacon strips on the foil. Place the bacon in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp (time will vary based on thickness of the bacon). Dab the bacon with paper towels to soak up any excess grease, and it's easy clean up too!


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 1040mg | Potassium: 836mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1860IU | Vitamin C: 11.2mg | Calcium: 371mg | Iron: 5.3mg
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  • Rebecca Goodwin wrote:

    I made this on New Year’s Day for my household. I was looking for a fun way to fit in all of the traditional New Year’s Day foods. It was a hit! Everyone loved it and I’ll definitely be making it again soon. Thank you!

  • Kelly wrote:

    Made this so many times, and it’s perfect! I take a few short cuts using canned black eyed peas, drained – and Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice, and it’s still fantastic! I even sub ingredients for an Italian version sometimes! Thanks for a fun recipe! I could make my star rating work – but it’s def 5 stars!!

  • Mary wrote:

    By the instructions, I could not determine whether the rice was cooked BEFORE adding to onion liquid, or cooking rice BY adding to the onion liquid

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Hi Mary, yes… just added as uncooked rice. If I had expected you to cook it before adding it, I would list it as “cooked rice” in the ingredients. It just has to be a rice that can cook in 20 minutes, since that’s the time the mixture cooks on the stove.

  • Katherine E wrote:

    Thanks to RACHEL R. for the vegan conversion ideas!! Going to make this today.

  • Amy wrote:

    Hi what kind of rice did you use? Looks so good!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You can use any kind of rice. If you use anything other than white, the cooking time will be a bit longer.

  • Karen wrote:

    This was wonderful. The only change I made was to add 1/2 pound of hot turkey italian sausage, the kind that comes out of the casings. I followed the rest of the recipe to a Tee. My husband, who hates black eyed peas, had two helpings and told me he’d have it again. WooHoo!

  • Catherine wrote:

    I made this with ground beef instead of bacon and it was great as a main dish. Next time I’ll use 2 cans of regular tomatoes.

  • Rachel R. wrote:

    This is a terrific recipe – and for those that are interested, very easy to veganize! My husband and I are vegan, so I made without the bacon, used veggie broth instead of chicken broth, and Daiya shreds instead of cheddar. I added some chipotle chili pepper to add back some smokiness that the bacon would have provided (as well as a bit of a spicy kick!). Absolutely delicious!

  • Alex a wrote:

    This is a great recipe. I used brown rice and I added an additional 20 minutes to the 20 minutes suggested in the recipe. The brown rice burned to the bottom even thought it soaked up all th rest and it was underdone when I combined it (in the next step) with th tomatoes, spinach, cheese and bacon. I highly suggest anyone who uses brown rice for this recipe to cook it 90% through prior to adding it to the onion and garlic. It’s a lot better when it’s a little overdone and soft versus it being chewy and underdone once it’s baked- like what happened to me.

    And if yours brown rice turns out underdone even after you bake it, add leftover vegetable or chicken broth to the casserole dish, COVER it & then bake it at 350 degrees for an additional 20 minutes. This will slightly decrease the chewiness of the final product.

  • Heather wrote:

    we make this every year. It is our new tradition. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jimi C. wrote:

    I enjoyed this again this year. I don’t use the spinach…I use cilantro. And, I love it.

  • AnnA wrote:

    Made this for lunch today to increase our fibre intake – I chose to soak the beans as I couldn’t find canned and they were marvellously creamy. Incredibly filling recipe too. I included the bacon, but would probably eliminate it next time around.
    Comfort food, but turned out not too harsh on the calories either 🙂
    Thanks for posting!

  • Allison Warren wrote:

    This has become my favorite recipe!! I’ve made it with both white and brown rice, I used bacon bits instead of cooking my own bacon, and this last time I added some sliced sausage (like in red beans and rice) and it is just awesome! With the brown rice it’s a super healthy dish – love all the veggies my family gets from this recipe! Love it!! Thanks for sharing!!