June 24, 2020

Classic Boiled Peanuts

An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts!


Do you know I spent the first half of my life thinking the entire world loved boiled peanuts? They are such a big part of our local cuisine and culture that I just assumed everyone else loved them too! And many of you reading this have never even laid eyes on them.

Lawzamercy, I promise I didn't live a sheltered life.

Of course, I am the same person who was a full grown adult before I realized there was any other type of barbeque sauce than our Carolina gold mustard-based sauce. So...

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

Then I thought boiled peanuts were a Southern thing. And to some extent they are. But not all of the South does boiled peanuts. From what I can piece together, boiled peanuts are enjoyed south of North Carolina, down into the panhandle of Florida then east through Mississippi.

I’m sure there are some stragglers reaching beyond that range and folks relocating to other regions likely brought their boiled peanuts with them but I think the highest concentration is the area I just described.

WHAT ARE BOILED PEANUTS?

Push everything you know about traditional roasted peanuts out your head because this is an entirely different experience. Boiled Peanuts are left in their shell to slowly simmer in salted or seasoned water until very tender which yields soft, briny, salty pearls of joy on the inside. Eating them is somewhat like eating raw oysters in that half of the enjoyment is in the salty brine inside. Boiled peanuts go perfectly with ice-cold beer or a coke!

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

What I love about boiled peanuts (in addition to how delicious they are!) is that cooking and eating them is very often a social thing. Kinda like pig pickins and fish fries, the cooking or eating of them takes time.

And don’t you know we Southerners love to stand around a fire or a propane cooker and cook something?!? There’s nothing better than holding court over a pot or a pit with a cold beer in your hand, swapping stories with friends and family.

Good times, y'all, good times!

HOW DO YOU EAT BOILED PEANUTS?

  1. Grab a peanut and set it between your back teeth with the seam pointed toward your teeth (otherwise you'll just crush it when you bite down).
  2. Bite down until you hear a little pop (that's the peanut shell opening up).
  3. Suck the juice from the shell (unless you've got yourself a sketchy looking pender - you don't want to flood your mouth with the juice of a bad peanut!).
  4. Pull the shell out of your mouth then open it to reveal the cooked peanuts. 
  5. Pop the peanuts in your mouth and enjoy!

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN GREEN PEANUTS AND RAW PEANUTS?

The short answers are moisture content and age, though moisture content is the biggest factor.

Green peanuts are freshly harvested, raw peanuts and therefor have a much higher moisture content (approximately 35-50%) which makes them highly perishable. True green peanuts must be refrigerated when they come out the field or they will spoil. Due to the higher moisture content, green peanuts require a shorter cooking time.

Raw peanuts are air-dried in their shells to make them less perishable and more practical to transport and make their way into markets without spoiling. Peanut farms air-dry the peanuts to maintain a moisture content of approximately 10%.

Some recipes I’ve seen say to soak raw peanuts overnight but in all my life, I’ve never seen anyone do that. My family almost exclusively cooks raw peanuts and have never soaked them so I can tell you with complete confidence, that is not a required step.

Green peanuts will need to be cooked with more salt whereas raw peanuts need less. Imagine two sponges. One is pretty saturated with water and one is almost dry. If we placed the two sponges in salt water, the first one (the saturated one) will not soak up as much of the salty water as the dry sponge. Since green peanuts will absorb less of the cooking liquid, the liquid will need to be more saturated with salt.

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

WHAT DO YOU SEASON BOILED PEANUTS WITH?

Plain salted peanuts is the most common flavor and that’s my family’s favorite way to enjoy them but there are many variations. You can add Cajun seasoning, Old Bay, Italian seasoning, crab boil or really whatever suits your fancy. You can also add aromatics and vegetables like onion, green peppers, jalapenos and garlic.

Some folks swear by cooking the peanuts in unsalted water for the majority of the cooking time then add the salt later for more tender peanuts. This makes sense to me when using drier, raw peanuts because the same is true when cooking dried beans (and peanuts and most beans are all legumes) adding salt early on can cause the legumes to be a little tougher. I’ve never cooked peanuts this way, though I can see the logic.

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BOILED PEANUTS ARE TOO SALTY?

  • If the peanuts are done cooking and perfectly tender but too salty, add 2 peeled potatoes to the cooking liquid and let soak for 1-2 hours. The potatoes will draw out a lot of salt from the peanuts.
  • If the peanuts still need to cook longer to be as tender as you’d like but are already too salty, pour off half of the cooking liquid and replace with fresh water. Continue cooking the peanuts until tender.

Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts

Writing a recipe for boiled peanuts is somewhat of a challenge because there are a lot of variables to be considered. Because moisture content can vary greatly, it’s hard to pin down precise cooking times but I will try my best.

A good rule of thumb for cooking raw boiled peanuts is 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water but again, moisture content determines how much of the brine is absorbed by the peanuts so this can vary. Taste the cooking liquid – you want it to be as salty as you want your boiled peanuts to be.


boiled, peanuts, goobers, goober peas, penders, pinders, southern, recipe, appetizer, snack, classic, best, how to
appetizers, side dish
Southern
Yield: 3 Pounds
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
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Classic Boiled Peanuts

Classic Boiled Peanuts

An easy to follow recipe for cooking the perfect pot of classic Southern boiled peanuts!
Prep time: 10 MCook time: 3 hourTotal time: 3 H & 10 M

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds raw peanuts, in the shell
  • 1 gallon water, approximately
  • 1/2 cup salt, approximately

Instructions:

  1. Wash the peanuts well buy soaking and stirring them in a sink full of clean cold water for several minutes.
  2. Place clean peanuts in a large pot then cover with water by 2 inches. Pay attention to how much water was required to cover the peanuts (it may take more or less than a gallon depending on the shape of your pot).
  3. Add 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water used. Stir well and bring to a boil
  4. If the peanuts are especially dry, many will float. Set a dinner plate on top of the peanuts to press them down into the water. Once the peanuts soak up the cooking liquid, they will sink on their own and you can remove the plate.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium then cover the pot with a lid. Boil peanuts for 2 hours then check for tenderness. The original moisture content of your peanuts will determine how long they need to cook. Some raw peanuts may need to cook for 4 hours or more whereas some will be done in 2 hours.
  6. Remove from heat then allow the peanuts to rest, covered for 30 minutes before serving. The longer the peanuts set in the brine, the softer and saltier they will become.

Notes:

Boiled peanuts can be refrigerated up to one week and frozen up to 6 months.
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Classic Southern Boiled Peanuts! An easy to follow recipe for this favorite Southern snack that will quickly walk you through the differences in green and raw peanuts, seasoning variations and tips for cooking the perfect pot of boiled peanuts! #boiledpeanuts


12 comments:

  1. More correctly known as Bald Paynuts, these are a staple of the South, and they evoke deep emotional memories for me. We would have them every time we travelled to visit my grandparents in Dothan, Alabama. I remember sitting on the front porch with my Granddaddy, on their metal slider, rocking back and forth, eating boiled peanuts as we watched folks go by.

    I asked my Grandmother once how much salt I should add when boiling peanuts. She looked at me like I was dumb, and said, "Well, Steve, you put enough salt in there so that your water tastes like you want your peanuts." For someone as analytical as I am, this concept of cooking empirically was like a curtain pulled back. Cooking didn't have to be just about recipes. It was not a chemistry lab. Cooking was also about direct feedback. Taste, feel, sight and smell. When I smell peanuts on the boil, I remember my Grandmother.

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    1. Oh, Steve, you are a lucky man to have figured that out! The biggest challenge I've had with the blog is actually defining and documenting measurements and cook-times because the people I learned to cook from never measured anything! I start with a blank sheet of paper and when I'm done it looks like a toddler doodled on it! Nope, not enough, add more.... nope, not enough, add more... whoops, too much, reduce the quantity in the recipe!

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  2. I love boiled peanuts but my husband loooooves them. We live in the North and once while driving from Georgia to PA, we stopped at a flea market in the mountains of NC. My husband took my three year old in the stroller in order for me to do some shopping. After almost two hours of my husband missing, I search this whole huge flea market to find my husband and three year old with an old women with no teeth, a whole barrel of boiled peanuts cooked with fat back, chowing down. My three year old cried when he had to leave. (I think my husband cried, too).

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  3. So correct your Grandmother was.., Thank you for reminding me of my Nannie.
    Deborah in the Fl Panhandle

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  4. Oh my goodness youngins, ou just blew my mind! I'm 77 and I'm still thinking EVERYBODY loves boiled peanuts...or at least they should!!!:-)!! I love reading your blog honey!! Keep up the good work!!

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    1. Haha!! Thank you!! And I'm glad I'm not the only one!!

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  5. thanks for the recipe. I put it in my pincrest for later, can't wait for fall i can get fresh peanuts.

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  6. I remember my first time trying boiled peanuts. I was visiting in Spartanburg and asked my cousin if there was somewhere we could get some, as I had just learned of them a week before on an episode of Paula Deen. He happily obliged and got me some boiled peanuts. I tried them and couldn't understand why anyone would eat them. Next day on our way home, I was still thinking about those weird boiled peanuts and decided I wanted to try them again, and thankfully found some somewhere near Asheville, and I have been hooked ever since. Best food find ever!!! Thanks for explaining the difference in "green" vs "raw". Helps explain what I am after when I order them to boil my own, because that's the only way to get them in Wisconsin!

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  7. I love boiled peanuts and so do my family.... and we are from Kentucky! I will say the first time that I tried boiled peanuts, I was on vacation in South Carolina. At first, I was unsure of the texture... but soon, I found myself not being able to stop and wanting more. It's hard to find spots that sell boiled peanuts in KY... but I have found one gas station close to my house.

    When travelling to Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina - you see them everywhere - heck! Sometimes just on the side of the road along with peaches, pecans and watermelon.Ya gotta love the south!

    I cook boiled peanuts for my family several times a year... and I cook mine in the crock pot... you just have to watch the water level and add water (and salt if needed) while cooking. I will usually start a pot at night before bed - and wake up in the middle of the night to add water.

    Thanks for the cooking tip! I've never tried them on the stove. I usually don't have the time or patience to be in the kitchen for hours. So the crock pot is my go to!

    Have a great week Mandy!

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  8. Oh man! My hubs is going to looooove me! ;)

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  9. We are definitely north of the boiled peanut line. however my brother planted peanuts in the garden this year with the intention of boiling them and we can't wait to give them a try. I'm sending him your link now!

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  10. We discovered boiled peanuts on the way to Destin for vacation years ago. An old house in Luverne, Alabama had a big boiling pot on the porch, and we stopped to investigate. These delicacies are a classic snack, a little messy, but super delicious! They wash down a cold beer real good too!

    Love your blog/website and I have used many of your recipes over the years. Your ham salad recipe is addictive!

    Keep up the great work!

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Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy