What Are Zipper Peas? Plus 7 Recipes

Trying new and interesting vegetables is part of a healthy diet. Expanding your dietary palate to include a greater number of healthful foods makes it easier to keep meals interesting, and zipper peas are just one addition that can help you with that.

Zipper peas refer to a variety of field peas, grown in many a Southern garden and enjoyed with gusto. They’re so named because they’re easy to shell, with the pod essentially zipping away from the sweet peas within.

Because there are a variety of field peas — like lady peas, crowder peas, and others — you can easily substitute them in any field pea recipe.

We rounded up some of the best zipper pea dishes on the Internet.

1. Southern Style Zipper Peas

This is a traditional zipper pea dish, and like many bean dishes from the South, it’s got pork and salt. Made as is, the dish would no doubt be delicious. But if you’re interested in making a healthier version, consider using turkey and smoke seasoning instead of bacon grease and ham hocks. Get the recipe!

2. Crispy Pea Cakes with Avocado Aioli

This is a great way to use up leftover peas. These cakes make a delicious lunch, or work as a side with a dinnertime soup. The recipe is a little complex, but the time invested would be worthwhile since you could make these ahead and even freeze them! Get the recipe!

3. Honey-Glazed Baked Field Peas

This works with any field pea, and while the author uses cowpeas, zipper peas are a fine substitution. Unlike the other recipes, you’ll bake these peas with honey poured over top, giving them a sweet glaze that goes will with ham, or turkey ham if you’re watching your calories and fat. Plan ahead as this recipe takes longer than the others, but it can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days. Get the recipe!

4. Peas and Greens

Peas and greens go together like shrimp and grits — well, at least if you’re from the low country. This recipe comes alongside one for shrimp and grits, everything you’d need to transport your guests to the Carolinas. This pea recipe uses collard greens and hot sauce. It doesn’t get much more Southern than that. Get the recipe!

5. Zipper Cream Peas and Wilted Kale

Zipper cream peas are a classic preparation of these field peas. This is a fairly simple recipe that includes kale for both color and texture. Though the recipe calls for salt pork (a heavily salted nonsmoked cut from the pig’s belly or back), you can easily sub it for lower fat pancetta or leave it out altogether. Because it’s made with chicken broth, the extra salt isn’t necessary. Get the recipe!

6. Smoky Field Pea Hummus

Hummus is traditionally made with garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, but it can just as easily be made with any legume — like zipper peas. This recipe uses field peas and all the basic hummus ingredients. Replacing the ham hock with smoke flavoring will yield a similar flavor with less fat and calories. Get the recipe!

7. Heirloom Tomato-Field Pea Salad

Here is another great field pea salad that combines the flavors of summer. This one is served with a garlic mayonnaise, making it a creamy dish and a great option in lieu of potato or macaroni salad. Get the recipe!

You may have never tried zipper peas, but if you’re able to find them — either on your grocer’s shelf or at the farmer’s market — these recipes should have you well on your way to enjoying something new.