Boiled Peanuts Recipe (Plus Video on How to Eat Them)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist Snacks and Treats, VideosComments: 37

Boiled Peanuts

Stay tuned below for a very easy boiled peanuts recipe plus a video on how to eat them without embarrassing yourself!

The peanut, which is actually a legume and not a nut at all, was originally cultivated in what is today Brazil or Peru at least as far back as 3,500 years ago.

When the Spanish first began exploring the New World in the 1500’s, they were intrigued by peanut cultivation by natives in Central America and brought some back to Spain for growing. From Europe, the peanut made its way to Africa via trading.

The peanut came full circle back to the New World when Africans brought them to North America as part of the slave trade.

Slaves planted peanuts, or “goobers” from the Congo word for peanut – nguba,  throughout the Southern United States. Records show that peanuts were cultivated for commercial use in South Carolina as early as 1800.

Many boiled peanut recipes coming directly from African traditions spread through the Southern USA as the popularity of this humble legume grew.

Boiled Peanuts Recipe

People traveling by car anywhere in the South typically see “Boiled Peanuts” signs everywhere, particularly in the Autumn as the peanut harvest is being picked and peanuts are plentiful. Here’s the boiled peanuts recipe.

The traditional practice of boiling peanuts makes for a soft, nutritious and very digestible snack. Goober peas, as they are sometimes called in the Deep South, are prepared by placing raw peanuts in the shell in a large pot of water until the peanuts are floating. A bit of rock salt or sea salt is then added. More salt can be added later if desired when the peanuts are almost done.

The peanuts are brought to a boil and then the heat reduced to a simmer. More water might need to be added as the peanuts cook for the next four to seven hours depending on the quantity and age of the peanuts. Green, Valencia peanuts are tastiest and quicker to prepare.

Careful preparation by following this boiled peanuts recipe deactivates enzyme inhibitors such as phytic acid and liberates the nutrition for easy digestion and assimilation by the body with no gastric distress.

Traditional flavorings can be added to the boil if desired. Depending on the locality, ham hocks, hot sauce, Cajun seasonings and even beer are popular.

Bill Neal in his book Southern Cooking says that when boiled peanuts are done,  “… the kernel should have swollen to fill the pod well and the taste of raw starch will have been dissipated.”

You will have to decide what this means by tasting yourself as some folks like them soft and others more firm.

Boiled peanuts can be eaten right out of the pot while they are still hot (best) or the pot can be drained and the peanuts refrigerated for later snacking.

How to Eat Boiled Peanuts the Southern Way

You can always tell where someone is from based on how they eat boiled peanuts. Folks not from the South tend to break open the liquid filled pod and pick out the peanuts with their fingers before popping into their mouth.

While this might be a good way to eat raw peanuts out of the shell, this is not the correct way to eat boiled peanuts not to mention you will get salt water squirted all over your hands and maybe even your face and clothes!

In this short and fun video below, I demonstrate how to properly eat a boiled peanut so the next time you are on a road trip in one of the Southern states and stop for an afternoon snack of boiled peanuts, you can blend in with the locals and not raise any eyebrows with a clumsy boiled peanut eating style!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Southern Boiled Peanuts: A History

A Short Peanut History

Raw Nuts Done Right

Comments (37)

  • carrie

    <—– GA girl here. Boiled peanuts are delicious! Glad to know this method makes them a healthy snack. Must pick some up next time I'm in the mountains. :)

    May 23rd, 2013 8:58 am Reply
  • Olivia

    Native northeast Florida girl here…though I’ve lived in east Tennessee for the last 20 years :) You did a fantastic demonstration of boiled peanut eating, Sarah! Love me some boiled peanuts!!!

    May 23rd, 2013 9:37 am Reply
  • Maria

    I know nothing about boiled peanuts (being from the north), but it is something I would LOVE to try now! I love peanuts! Thanks for the info!

    May 23rd, 2013 10:14 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      You must try them! The are so delicious!

      May 23rd, 2013 10:34 am Reply
  • Serena Bloch via Facebook

    yum! makes me want to get some now!!

    May 23rd, 2013 10:48 am Reply
  • Michelle

    I’m from and am currently living in Baltimore, but my husband and I lived in Birmingham, AL for two years when we first began dating. One of the things I miss most is being able to pop in any gas station and fill up a huge styrofoam cup full of boiled peanuts. I crave the spicy boiled peanuts all the time but haven’t quite mastered making my own. There no where to be found around here :(

    May 23rd, 2013 10:52 am Reply
  • Mandy Rivera via Facebook

    make them with star anise and they are yummy

    May 23rd, 2013 11:02 am Reply
  • Vikki Kay via Facebook


    May 23rd, 2013 11:05 am Reply
  • Siri Crider via Facebook

    I love boiled peanuts! So hard to get the green peanuts in season in CO! Lots of salt…

    May 23rd, 2013 11:10 am Reply
  • Naomi

    I’m a southern girl but I didn’t know that! I love the salty water inside the shell though, but I usually lose most of it upon breaking open the shell, just like you said! :) I love them the most if they are jumbo peanuts. Thanks, I enjoyed this post!

    May 23rd, 2013 11:12 am Reply
  • Michelle

    I am also from the south and love boiled peanuts. Easiest way to make them? Make sure you get green (fresh) peanuts, put them in the crock pot, cover then with water, add salt (quite a bit) , and let them go for about 6 to 8 hours on high. Yum!

    May 23rd, 2013 11:29 am Reply
  • Bob-Bianca Gato via Facebook

    I love boiled peanuts!!!

    May 23rd, 2013 11:33 am Reply
  • Rebecca Flannery via Facebook

    I grew up in FL and every year, one highlight of our vacation was picking up boiled peanuts from a roadside stand in Georgia.

    May 23rd, 2013 11:38 am Reply
  • Emily Harrell via Facebook

    My MIL is from south GA. She pronounces them ” boled” peanuts. :)

    May 23rd, 2013 12:46 pm Reply
  • Ron-Elaine Eshleman via Facebook

    Love, love, love boiled peanuts; nothing better than eating boiled peanuts and watching the local guys play baseball!

    May 23rd, 2013 12:51 pm Reply
  • Gwen Henry via Facebook

    Boiled peanuts are also popular in Hawaii, usually cooked with salt and star anise and you can buy them in local stores and markets. I’ve also had them boiled with teriyaki sauce added to the water. Some use pressure cookers to cut down on cooking time but the peanuts get mushy.

    May 23rd, 2013 1:08 pm Reply
  • Julie in WA

    Anyone know of a good source to order raw peanuts? I’ve not been able to find them in the Pacific Northwest!!!

    May 23rd, 2013 1:19 pm Reply
  • Peggy Summy via Facebook

    Peanuts are NOT meant to be mushy!

    May 23rd, 2013 1:21 pm Reply
  • Kevin R Cruz via Facebook

    Oh, so that’s why I was always able to eat them without any gastrointestinal warfare going on!

    May 23rd, 2013 2:05 pm Reply
  • Donnie

    I was raised up eating boiled peanuts here in SE North Carolina. I couldn’t imagine life without them. A trick I used to do is eating boiled peanuts when I get sleepy driving. I guess that would be improper now with the nanny-state.

    May 23rd, 2013 2:09 pm Reply
  • Aaron Tilton via Facebook

    boiled peanuts are yummy

    May 23rd, 2013 2:19 pm Reply
  • Shari

    <—another Georgia girl here…. The correct Southern way to pronounce boiled peanuts sounds like "bowled" peanuts.


    May 23rd, 2013 3:15 pm Reply
  • Rebecca C

    growing up in the florida panhandle, we always got our peanuts in a soaked brown paper sack. the cup is an upgrade. now that i live in the west there are no raw peanuts here so no chance of boiled peanuts :0(

    May 23rd, 2013 3:36 pm Reply
  • Louise Baker

    I didn’t know there was a healthy way to eat peanuts; that’s great! My only concern would be that the peanuts are pesticide free. Peanut crops are traditionally rotated in with cotton, which is probably the most heavily sprayed crop around. The chemicals stay in the soil, and that’s why farmers often plant a crop of peanuts in between; because peanuts are nitrogen-fixing and help heal the soil from the depletion of pesticide-laden cotton plants.

    May 23rd, 2013 5:01 pm Reply
  • Sarah @ Politically Incorrect Health

    It’s been a while since I’ve had boiled peanuts. I will have to look for some soon!

    May 23rd, 2013 6:09 pm Reply
  • Chalcedony

    Being so far north, I had never even heard of this snack. Admittedly, though it sounds good, it also seems unappealingly messy. That won’t stop me, though. I’d love some boiled peanuts with Cajun-style seasoning. I will see about making a batch soon.

    May 23rd, 2013 8:11 pm Reply
  • Sheena

    We ate them all the time in Hawaii where I grew up. They are very common there. Often in the check out aisle at a grocery store. They are delicious. The taste and texture are very different from raw or roasted peanuts.

    May 23rd, 2013 10:09 pm Reply
  • Trudy

    Wonder where you can buy the green peanuts to make these?

    May 23rd, 2013 10:26 pm Reply
  • Khim

    From where i come from locals do not suck the liquid first as the peanuts are not washed beforehand.

    May 24th, 2013 10:53 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    I grew up in Clearwater and went to high school in Tampa. I’ve been living in Los Angeles for a decade now and I LOVE when you do posts that remind me of home. I think I must boil some peanuts this weekend so I can reminisce about eating them on 75 on our way up to Gator games :)

    PS- I’m so glad Konstantin is back!

    May 24th, 2013 11:02 am Reply
  • Mandy Robinson via Facebook

    Boiled peanuts are awesome!!

    May 24th, 2013 5:18 pm Reply
  • Bethany

    Any good sources of green peanuts for those of us that don’t live as close to GA as we’d like?

    May 25th, 2013 5:46 pm Reply
  • Gavin

    Could you make boiled peanuts with the regular, raw, dried in-shell? Or are the green ones required? I’ve only ever seen the dried here in Michigan, but I’d love to make my own.

    May 26th, 2013 10:13 pm Reply
  • Jim Abston

    Wow! I just learned that peanut is not actually a nut! LOL 😀 Anyway, I love these legumes but haven’t tried boiled peanuts. I think I’m going to try boiling some peanuts and share it to my wife. Thanks for sharing!

    May 27th, 2013 12:50 am Reply
  • Kay

    Sarah… What about the aflatoxins they say you get when you eat peanuts because of the way they are grown?

    May 30th, 2013 10:36 pm Reply
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