If you're wondering how to cook split peas correctly, you've come to the right place! Like other dried beans and lentils, cooking split peas is pretty straightforward, but there are still some key points to ensure that your split peas turn out perfect every time!
Table of Contents
What are Split Peas?
Before we learn how to cook dry split peas, let's talk about what split peas are. Split peas are a member of the legume family, like beans and lentils. They are harvested as whole field peas, then dried, peeled, and split in half, hence the name. The splitting process of the peas is what makes split peas fast to cook. Split peas come in two colors: green and yellow.
Split peas are a good source of plant-based protein and are readily available to purchase from grocers, markets, and health food stores. You can store them in an air-tight container in your pantry and have them on hand to add to a range of meat-based, vegetarian and vegan dishes.
What Do Split Peas Taste Like?
Split peas taste very similar to green peas - sweet and light, with the same creamy texture.
What's the Difference Between Green Split Peas and Yellow Split Peas?
While both have a similar texture and nutritional value, yellow split peas taste slightly milder than dried green split peas. Both types of split peas take the same time to cook and can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Yellow split peas - milder taste, subtler flavor
Green split peas - stronger taste, sweeter flavor
How to Cook Split Peas - Ingredients
- 1 cup dried split peas - Use yellow or green split peas. You can buy them pre-packaged from your local grocer or in bulk from a health food store. Just like when choosing beans or lentils, choose split peas that are smooth and avoid brittle or broken pieces.
- 3 cups water or broth - This is where you can get creative on how to cook split peas. Whatever liquid you add to your split peas is what's going to flavor them. In place of water, you can use either vegetable broth, chicken stock, or any broth you have at home, whether store-bought or homemade.
Stovetop - How to Cook Split Peas?
An advantage of split peas is that, unlike some beans and lentils, it is not necessary to soak split peas beforehand. I will, however, give you the steps and cooking times for soaked and unsoaked split peas so you can choose which method you prefer.
Unsoaked Split Peas
How do you Cook Dried Peas Without Soaking Them?
So, if you forgot to pre-soak your split peas or simply do not have time, don't worry. Here are the instructions for how to cook them:
- Rinse - Put the split peas in a sieve and run under cool water to remove any discolored peas, debris, or impurities. Alternatively, put your split peas in a medium-sized bowl, and fill it with water. Agitate the peas with your hand and remove any broken peas or impurities. Discard the water if it runs dirty, and repeat until the water runs clean.
- Cook - Put the split peas in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of fresh water or any liquid you choose. Bring the pot to a boil on the stove-top, and reduce heat to let it simmer uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes or until split peas are tender. When you have achieved the desired texture, make sure you taste and adjust accordingly.
Soaked Split Peas
How Long Do Soaked Peas Take To Cook?
Pre-soaking split peas will reduce the cooking time, and you can do it the night before. Simply leave the bowl on the counter, and go to bed. Simple as that!
- Rinse - Put the split peas in a sieve and rinse under cool running water. Remove any debris or discolored peas.
- Soak - Soak the split peas in a bowl with enough water until there's at least 2 to 5 inches of water above the split peas. Soak them for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Cook - When you are ready to cook, drain the water from the bowl, and put the split peas in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of fresh water or any liquid of your choosing. Bring the pot to a boil, and reduce heat to let it simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes or until the split peas are tender. Taste and adjust accordingly.
How Long Does it Take for Split Peas to Cook?
|Type of Peas||Method||Soak Time||Cook Time|
|Split Peas||unsoaked||0 hours||35 - 45 minutes|
|Split Peas||soaked||6 - 8 hours||20 - 30 minutes|
Other Cooking Methods:
How to Cook Split Peas in Microwave?
Yes, it is possible to cook split peas in the microwave:
- Rinse - Put the split green peas in a sieve and wash them under running cool water. Remove any debris or impurities.
- Prepare - Put the split peas and water in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover it with a microwave-safe lid.
- Microwave - Microwave on high for about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the power of your microwave). Stop to check and stir every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.
How to Cook Split Peas in Instant Pot?
Cooking split peas in an Instant pot will ensure tender split peas fast, with no soaking required. Note: Instant Pot can make the split peas mushy, which can be perfect for some recipes!
- Rinse - Rinse the slit peas in a sieve under cool running water. Remove any debris or other matter.
- Cook - Combine split peas, water, and other seasoning or add-ins to the pot, and pressure cook on high for 7 minutes.
- Release - Once the cooking stops, allow the Instant Pot to sit and naturally release for 10 to 15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
How to Cook Split Peas in Rice Cooker?
You can use a rice cooker for cooking split peas or even a whole peas recipe.
- Rinse - Place 1 cup of split peas in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Pick through the split peas and discard any discolored peas or impurities.
- Cook - Place the split peas and 3 cups of water or broth into a rice cooker. Press the start button on the rice cooker and cook until the split peas are tender.
Can you Cook Split Peas in a Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can cook split peas in a slow cooker.
- Rinse - Put 1 cup of split peas in a sieve and rinse under running cold water. Pick through the split peas and discard any debris or broken peas.
- Prepare - Put the split peas and 3 cups of water into the slow cooker. Add your flavorings, aromatics, meat, and vegetables of your choice.
- Slow cook - Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn it on low for 4 hours Taste and adjust.
Adding Flavour to Split Peas
- Spices - You can add many different spices to your split pea recipes. For an Indian-inspired dish, my favorite spices are ground cumin, turmeric, coriander, and ginger. Toast the spices first in a bit of oil to release their flavor, which will help build the taste of the dish you are cooking.
- Stock or broth - Adding stock or broth rather than just water is a valuable way to add flavor to your dry peas recipes. You can use homemade or store-bought broths, stocks, or bouillon. Or use water and add meat and vegetables or even a meat bone, and the flavor will infuse through your split peas. To make the green split pea recipe vegetarian or vegan, ensure that your cooking liquid is either water or vegetable broth.
- Aromatics - Adding different types of onion and garlic to the cooking liquid adds an extra layer of flavor to your dry split peas recipe. Saute the onions and garlic in oil before adding the cooking liquid and split peas.
- Chopped vegetables - To add even more fiber and nutrition to your dry peas recipe, sauté chopped carrots and celery in your saucepan before adding your split peas, bay leaves, and thyme. Use vegetable stock (or chicken broth) instead of water - season with salt and black pepper.
What to Cook With Split Peas
With the most basic ingredient, such as split peas, you can get creative and add anything you like. Some of my favorite yellow and green split peas recipe ideas are:
- Dips - Like other legumes or beans, split peas make an excellent base for dips. Use fully cooked split peas in place of cooked pinto beans, kidney beans, and other commonly used beans for dips. Remember that split peas are sweeter, so adjust the flavoring accordingly.
- Split pea hummus - Get creative with a traditional chickpea hummus recipe and make split pea hummus! Delicious!
- Split pea salad - Split peas make a delicious inclusion in salads with fresh herbs and summer vegetables.
- Ham or bacon split pea soup recipe - There's something incredible going on when split peas meet the smokiness of ham or bacon. Render about 4 slices of bacon straight into your pot or add ham hocks while boiling your split peas, and you'll be amazed at how much better your split pea soup tastes! For such a humble ingredient, split pea soup can be a comforting and filling soup at any time of the day.
- Split pea smooth soup - Split peas are also great for making smooth soups. After cooking your split peas soup, use an immersion blender or food processor. You can add up to ½ cup more liquid for a smoother consistency and easier blending. You can also strain it using a sieve for an even smoother consistency.
- Dahl recipe for split peas - Substitute the lentils with split peas in this delicious dahl recipe.
- Split pea snacks - Golden fried split peas are crunchy, salty, and addictive! Yum!
Substitutes for Cooking With Split Peas
You can adapt dried split peas recipes with the following:
- Red Lentils - Learn how to cook red lentils. Red lentils are a popular type of lentil due to their short cooking time and versatility. They can feature as the main ingredient in a dish and also be used to thicken dishes such as soups and stews.
- Split peas vs green peas - Dried whole peas are peas that are not split in two like split peas. They take longer to cook than split peas but are also super tasty and nutritious. Refer to the how to cook dried peas without soaking article for detailed cooking time and tips.
- Split pea vs lentil - Read all the information you need about the differences and similarities between lentils vs split peas and how to substitute each type.
- Substitute split peas for lentils - Green lentils are one of the most common lentils you can find at the local grocer. They are also relatively inexpensive to buy and can easily store in your pantry. They come in a few shades - from light mottled green to dark khaki. They hold their shape well when cooked and make an excellent substitute for split peas in many recipes.
- Peas vs beans - Beans are also legumes and make an excellent substitute for split peas. Pinto beans, black beans, and chickpeas are all great alternatives for plant-based protein in wraps, tacos, soups, and salads. Note: dried beans often need soaking first.
- Grains - You can substitute split peas in some recipes with grains such as millet, barley, buckwheat, or types of rice such as brown or red rice. Rice is also great to use in salads and stews.
- Nuts – Many types of nuts can substitute split peas for thickening a dish, such as soup, stew, or curry. One of my favorite curries is a chicken curry with green chili, tomato, yogurt, and coriander that uses ground-up cashews for a thicker consistency.
How to Store Split Peas?
Uncooked Dried Split Peas
Pantry - Dried split peas can last for years in your kitchen pantry. Ensure you keep the bag of split peas sealed or keep them in a well-sealed container in a dry and dark section.
Freezer - Once you open the packet of split peas, maximize the peas' shelf life by storing them sealed in the freezer until later use.
Cooked Split Peas
Fridge - You can store cooked split peas in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Freezer - For more extended storage, transfer the cooked split peas into an air-tight container, and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Cook Split Peas - FAQs
What is the Difference Between Split Peas and Lentils?
- Are split peas lentils? While split peas and lentils are both legumes, they come from different varieties of legumes. My split peas vs lentils article will explain all their differences and similarities and give you cooking tips and recipe ideas.
- Can I use split peas instead of lentils? Yes, you can use split peas in many recipes that call for lentils. For example, use split peas instead of lentils in this easy-to-make green lentil dahl recipe.
- Green lentils vs split peas Green lentils and green split peas have a different flavor profile. Split peas are sweeter and creamier, and green lentils have an earthier flavor.
Are Split Peas Good For You?
Are split peas healthy? Split peas are a healthy and versatile ingredient to add to various dishes. They are a good source of plant-based protein and have health benefits to add to a vegetarian, vegan, or meat-based diet.
Do Split Peas Need to be Soaked Before Cooking?
Here are your top questions about 'how to soak split peas' answered:
- Should you soak split peas? No, you don't have to soak split peas before cooking.
- Is it better to soak split peas? While pre-soaking peas will make cooking a little bit faster, it isn't better.
- How do you pre soak split peas? Place the split peas in a bowl of fresh water and cover with cool water. Leave soaking for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- How do you soak split peas quickly? There isn't a method for 'quick soak split peas'. The advantage of split peas over whole dried peas is that they cook comparatively faster.
- Should you soak split peas overnight? I like soaking them overnight as they are then ready to use the next day. If not overnight, soak the split peas in a bowl of water for a minimum of 6 hours.
- How long can you soak split peas? The maximum time to soak split peas is overnight, so about 12 hours.
- Do you rinse split peas after soaking? Rinse the split peas after soaking until the water runs clear.
- Do you soak split peas in hot or cold water? Soak the split peas in cold water.
- How long does it take to cook soaked split peas? It takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook soaked split peas.
- Can you over soak split peas? If you soak split peas longer than the recommended time of 6 to 8 hours or overnight, they can lose some of their flavor and texture. Also, do not soak split peas for longer than 24 hours; otherwise, they can begin to ferment.
How to Rinse Split Peas?
Put the split peas in a sieve and place it under cold running water. As the water runs over the split peas, pick through the peas for debris, discolored peas, dirt, or small rocks. If you don't have a sieve, place the peas in a bowl filled with cold water. Move the peas around the bowl with your hand and remove any impurities. Drain the water.
What Happens if you Don't Rinse Split Peas?
Rinsing split peas before cooking will help remove debris and dirt. We don't want any impurities going into our food, do we? So make sure you give your split peas a good rinse.
What is the Ratio of Water to Split Peas?
The ratio of split peas to water is 1:3. That is, use three times the amount of water to split peas.
- How much water do I use for 1 cup of split peas? - Use 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of split peas.
How Long Does it Take to Simmer Split Peas?
How long should split peas be cooked? Here are the green split peas cooking time and the yellow split peas cooking time:
Unsoaked Split Peas - Unsoaked green and yellow split peas take 35 to 45 minutes to simmer until they are tender.
Soaked Split Peas - Soaked green and yellow split peas take 20 to 30 minutes to simmer until they are tender.
Why are Split Peas Still Hard After Cooking?
Cook your split peas to the recommended cooking time in the 'How to Cook Split Peas' Time Guide Chart above. If they are still hard, the dried peas could be very old and dry. It is possible that no amount of soaking or cooking will soften them, and I suggest purchasing another packet of split peas from your local grocer.
Should Split Peas be Soft When Cooked?
What is the texture of cooked split peas? Split peas should become soft and tender when cooked.
How do you cook split peas so they are soft? Cooked split peas should be soft and tender but not mushy. To do this, set the timer for the recommended minimum cooking time. Taste and adjust the timer for continued cooking if necessary.
How Long Does it Take Split Peas to Get Soft?
- Unsoaked split peas - split pea cooking time is 20 to 30 minutes
- Soaked split peas - split pea cooking time is 35 to 45 minutes
Can you Over Cook Split Peas?
It is possible to overcook split peas. An overcooked texture may not matter if you want the split peas to act as a thickener to a soup or stew. If you prefer your split peas to be more al dente in texture, keep a close eye on the time, or if adding to a dish with lots of other ingredients, add them later into the cooking time.
How do you Tell When Split Peas are Cooked?
Cook for the recommended minimum cooking time, then keep tasting and testing every couple of minutes. I like to cook the split peas almost al dente, like pasta, where the split peas are firm but with a tender texture.
Note: The cooking time of split peas can vary due to the seasonality and the natural differences between peas, such as when the farmer picked the peas, how they were dried, and how long they were dried.
How Much do Split Peas Expand When Cooked?
Dried split peas expand two to three times the original size once cooked.
- How much does 1 cup of split peas yield? - One cup of dried split peas will expand to two to three cups once cooked.
How to Cook Split Peas
- 1 cup dried split peas
- 3 cups water or broth such as chicken or vegetable
Method 1 - Unsoaked Split Peas
- Rinse 1 cup of split peas in a sieve with fresh water to remove any debris or impurities.
- Put the split peas in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of fresh water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes.
Method 2 - Soaked Split Peas
- Rinse 1 cup of split peas in a sieve under running water to remove discolored peas or dirt.
- Soak the peas in a bowl of water for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
- Drain the water. Put the peas in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of fresh water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to low, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Stock or broth - Use store-bought or homemade broth, stock, or bouillon.
- Chopped vegetables and meat - Add vegetables and meat to the cooking water.
- Aromatics - Saute onion and garlic and add to the cooking liquid.
- Spices - Toast spices in oil for 1 minute and add them to the cooking liquid along with herbs such as bay leaves and thyme.
How to Cook Split Peas - Conclusion
Starting with such a humble ingredient as split peas means you are free to explore, amp-up, and 'upgrade' your split peas into anything you like!
Thanks for the great info! Using vegetable broth made a wonderful tasting dish.
Angela, thank you for the nice comment. I'm pleased that you made a tasty dish! Split peas are delicious!
I used chicken broth and increased the liquid to 4 cups. Perfect for the soup I was making.
Hi Gregory, good idea to substitute water for chicken broth. I'm pleased that your soup turned out. Milly Chino.