Introduction: Boiled Peanuts

Picture of Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts are one of the most delicious simplest snacks I've ever had. Who knew that just by boiling a peanut, one could delight so many tummies.

When I was traveling in the South this summer for my residency at the Elsewhere Museum, another artist at the museum, Devin, turned me on to this roadside snack called Boiled Peanuts. Upon staring at them, they looked gross - they were a weird color peanut, floating in some murky dark liquid. She said "whatever, just try it."

This was the most delicious thing, and I never would have expected it.

I was so intrigued, that I started checking out some the history around this snack, and it has been a staple in Southern communities for a long time! I've been on the West Coast my whole life, plagued by tacos and In-N-Out Burgers, never knowing about this delight. Note to self: travel and eat more....

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

For this recipe, you only need the following:

Yup. That's it.

Leave it to southerners to figure out this amazing snack, with such simple stuff. They know.

Step 2: Salt to Water Ratio

Picture of Salt to Water Ratio

From what I had experienced, I was certain that the magic was in how salty the water is. I did a little digging around with otherfoodexperts, to figure out how much salt and water they were using.

What the experts said varied, but I ended up going with a ratio of 3 Tbs of salt for every 5 quarts of water - and maybe adding a little bit more as it cooks.

This snack is designed to sit in this water after cooking is complete, so it will get some of it's salt from remaining in the brine.

Step 3: Soak!

Picture of Soak!

The raw peanuts are really dirty. After rinsing them a few times, it's a good idea to let them soak in a warm bath for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I was impressed how much silt came off of them. (Warning: When I made these for a second time, I was a little lax on soak time - and they came out kind of gritty. YUCK.)

Step 4: Bring Water to a Boil.

Picture of Bring Water to a Boil.

In a big 15 quart stock pot, I brought about 10 quarts of water and the salt to a boil - it took a while to really get ripping, so maybe boil the water as the peanuts soak.

Step 5: Add Peanuts and Cover.

Picture of Add Peanuts and Cover.

Add the peanuts to the salt water, and try and maintain a rolling boil. Keep a wooden spoon near by, and stir every 20 minutes. Keep covered when not stirring.

Do NOT Simmer - you want this guy to be bubbling throughout the entire cook time. Depending on your range, you'll have to figure out what setting to cook these at, but the flames were about medium-high here in our test kitchen.

Step 6: Are They Done Yet?

Picture of Are They Done Yet?

When they are done, the husks are soft and the peanuts inside are not crunchy at all. It should have the texture similar to a refried bean :)

It should take anywhere between 3 and 4 hours to get them this mushy and perfectly brined.

Step 7: Serve Warm

Picture of Serve Warm

When they are cool enough to scoop with a slatted spoon, serve in small bowls, and maybe offer a second bowl for shells.

I knew these would go fast, but I wasn't expecting people around the office to be as voracious as they were - mikeasaurus proclaimed "this is my new favorite thing", JON-A-TRON and jessyratfink - the actual southerners I work with were stoked, and others never knew that a peanut could be cooked and served in this fashion. My roommate asked "are you sure this isn't crack?"



lfreye (author)2015-03-24

Good to see this up and going. Don't you wish we had this back when we lived in Reno?

audreyobscura (author)lfreye2015-03-24

Lucas! This is now a staple in our home, and my roommates buy raw peanuts on the regular for me to make them

lfreye (author)audreyobscura2016-08-19

How about a spicy, maybe Cajun??

kimyokitten (author)2015-02-16

I'll have to try it.

babybayrs (author)2015-02-01

I'd like to try this snack, How much peanut did you add to 10 quarts of water?

audreyobscura (author)babybayrs2015-02-02

It depends on the size of the pot - probably 2-3 lbs of un cooked peanuts

babybayrs (author)audreyobscura2015-02-03


venkips (author)2014-11-23

Hi All,

I reside in southern part of India, Bangalore. Since all these years, I have these every now and then.

Really delicious.....

Heaps of raw groundnuts are sold at an event every year.

samalert (author)venkips2015-01-29

True that being an Indian from Mumbai i too used to have those from long and nothing new. But i must say i have stopped eating ground nuts when i happen to sit in one of hear surgeon lectures. Where he requested to avoid ground nuts since these clog your heart vessels, the day i stopped eating them.

tauhid (author)samalert2015-02-02

One of the cholesterols substances is considered bad is LDL
cholesterol. Inhigh concentration it
can form plaques on blood vessels, which consequentlywill reduce their diameters to cause heart
attack.Vegetable oils have only a trace
amounts of cholesterol, so they are considered as “have no cholesterol”,
although they do facilitatecholesterols
to be absorbed by our gastrointestinal tract at different levels. Among the
vegetable oilsthe least facilitator is
the sun flower seed’s; the next are sesame, corn, peanut, palm, and coconut.

samalert (author)tauhid2015-02-02

Yes reason for which coconut and ground nuts should be avoided. I dont know what palm seeds or palm nuts are.

woodNfish (author)venkips2014-11-24

Who knew?!

chrwei (author)2014-11-23

the last step, offering a bowl for shells, implies that you do not eat the shells.

samalert (author)chrwei2015-01-29


doodlecraft (author)2015-01-29

Oh my yes! Now you just need to make them with a little Cajun spice! :)

woodNfish (author)2014-11-24

No, you do not eat the shells.

triedonce (author)woodNfish2014-11-25

I can't find raw nuts in their shells here in New Zealand, so can these be boiled without the shell?

BetsyFartBlossom (author)2014-11-24

My neighbour of 45 years loves these things. Me? Not a fan. I go to a farmers market in mid-July and they have the green boiling peanuts. I will buy a couple of pounds for her as a surprise, and when I give them to her, she nearly loses her mind:) Doesn't cost much and it makes her really happy. Little things mean a lot, and random acts of kindness are just plain fun:)

telharmonium (author)2014-11-24

Boiled peanuts are a common street snack in the Philippines. Never associated them with the American South, or anywhere else, really. Don't recall them being mentioned in Faulkner, McCullers, or Lee. Hmmm. Might be interesting to trace their history.

RHERSHinDETROIT (author)2014-11-23

Though a Northerner, I travel quite a bit in the South and I've seen these at roadside diners and truck stops. The appearance put me off and I never tried them. Okay, I mocked them openly, to be honest. But I like peanuts, and cooked edamame are good, so why not try it? This might be a good application for inexpensive vegetable stock cubes. The salt would have to be adjusted of course because stocks all have a ton of salt already.

Boiled peanuts are delicious.

tb399 (author)2014-11-24

This may be a stupid question, but do the peanuts have to be fresh or fresh and dried only ? Will this work with what is more commonly available up north using roasted peanuts ?


rimar2000 (author)2014-11-18

This is totally new for me. I will try it.

A question: all the peanuts that I can buy are pre baked. You get raw peanuts?

dockazoo (author)rimar20002014-11-23

You have to have green peanuts. You can boil dry ones until the cows come home and will still be hard inside.

rimar2000 (author)dockazoo2014-11-24

Well, toasted peanuts are hard inside too, but they taste good. When I was a kid I tried to eat a raw peanuts. They taste as soap.

audreyobscura (author)rimar20002014-11-18

You need raw ones - I linked to it in the ible because I couldnt find them here in the Bay Area! (Surprising, I know!) THEY ARE SOOO GOOD

Asian markets have raw peanuts as a staple for cooking. And in South America, there should be lots of Asian markets in the major cities where they have been along the trade shipping routes and immigration from Asia. (Surprising - many of the Chinese that speak fluent Spanish in NYC that I know came from Cuba)

rimar2000 (author)caitlinsdad2014-11-19

Sorry, I was misinformed. Yesterday my daughter cleared that dietaries sell raw peanuts.

caitlinsdad (author)rimar20002014-11-19

dietaries does not translate well. I am guessing you used health food store or organic foods shop.

rimar2000 (author)caitlinsdad2014-11-20

That's right, sorry. Sometimes I rely too much on my poor knowledge of English.

Thanks for watching!

paddlerjay (author)2014-11-24

Brought up in Sierra Leone as Brit Colonial ! I used to eat these all the time. 'Mammies' would carry large bowls of them on their heands and we payed 5c for a ciggarette tin measure of them. These were wet but the juice tasted sweet? Maybe they used some sugar? Or the natural juice if they just used water. I think they were boiled straight from being dug up ! Many thanks.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-11-23

I have neighbors that came from the Birmingham area that tpld Me about these. I'll have to tell them about this. ~:-}

Erchan (author)2014-11-23

OMG Peanut! Where is my cold beer!

Bowfin47 (author)2014-11-23

My family, in southern Mississippi, has been boiling peanuts for generations. They are the original "southern snack food." It was a tradition long before my mother was born (1920's) and a great excuse to get together for a party. Traditionally, folks used to only boil "green" peanuts (those that are not quite ready to harvest and dry), but over the last 20-30 years there has been a real upsurge in utilizing dried peanuts for boiling. Understand that the green boiled peanuts are very superior in flavor to the dried boiled peanuts, but green peanuts are typically only locally available, and even then for a relatively short time... Thus the upserge in using dried peanuts. Heck in this part of the country you can even purchased boiled peanuts in a can! Oh, and the addition of Louisiana crab boil and/or red pepper is more of a "Louisiana" adaptation. While I love hot, spicy foods, I much prefer my boiled peanuts "plain"... personal taste... HA!

gduke (author)2014-11-23

Where did you find the peanuts that are not already boiled?

dmadam (author)2014-11-23

I have thought of doing them but also wondered if you could do it with raw shelled peanuts? I had them once while going through the South and really liked them.

dinodroppings (author)2014-11-23

This is been done for ages in south India.

Boomer1 (author)2014-11-23

They've been popular in Alabama since grandad was milking dinosaurs. They are best from the roadside stands that a lot of the old timers set up near cross roads and flea markets.

We took 5 lbs of them on a trip to meet people from up north. MI, NY, NJ, DE etc. Most of the responses from the Yankees were....."oh my gawd thay tayste like beaans". The girl from SC knew what to do with them. LOL.

dubsergic (author)2014-11-23

If you use green raw peanuts you won't get so much silt. You can order them off-line form a bunch of places. I haven't found a place in the bay that sells them yet. If you do let me know! Thanks for sharing one of my favorite snacks!

TomasF1 (author)2014-11-23

This snack is popular in the West African country of The Gambia where my wife is from, very tasty! They prepare peanuts in many forms, both as snacks and in food. Once while busy building a house in The Gambia I lived of peanuts alone for three weeks :-)

scott58 (author)2014-11-23

I ordered a 1/2 bushel of green peanuts from this fall. Blanched and vac packed most of them. Now I can have boiled peanuts throughout the year.

Majik01 (author)2014-11-23

I can tell you a little secret about cooking these !!!

Use chicken broth or stock not water... If you think they were great using water, well trust me I'm not a Southern Chef but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night...

wildjackal (author)2014-11-23

One Correction. In the south we call them Bolled (one syllable) Peanuts.

islandpiper (author)2014-11-23

Great start, but don't forget the CRAB BOIL, or the cayenne . Not everyone likes the boiled peanuts scary spicy, but even a little will make them even better. For three pounds of peanuts i use 2-3 Tbs of liquid crab boil and about 1 Tbs of cayenne. They just add to the flavor. And, fresh, or as we say here in S. Louisiana "green peanuts" are the way to go.

GrumpyOldGoat (author)2014-11-23

For a family treat i just use a crockpot.

Rules for the dreaded Pressure Cooker.

1. Buy one of good quality

2. Read the Directions.

3. Follow the Directions.

4. PAY ATTENTION the first dozen or so times until the safety is second nature.

I have always had one on my life (67) and have never had a problem.

dockazoo (author)2014-11-23

Born and raised in NC in the 50's I literally cut my teeth on these things. LOL You got the directions down perfect with regards to the way my dad (and now I) make them. In the fall he would boil them outside in a big cast iron pot. He was real firm about not taking the lid off much. As a kid I wanted to stir them. LOL thanks for sharing!

james.l.stephens.33 (author)2014-11-20

peanuts are another legume, ground peas. in the original LA (lower Alabama), we sometimes boil peanuts that come from ground before they're completely dried. after boiling, the younger peanuts can be eaten shell and all. boiled peanuts really kick when boiled with a jalapeno or some cayenne, even just some red pepper flakes.

Dinah (author)2014-11-19

Peanuts originated in South America, Peru or Brazil, traveled in trade ships to Asia, then on to Africa, and brought from Africa to America during the slave trade. I am from South Carolina, then lived Japan, where we found salty boiled soy beans (edamame) were a great alternative to boiled peanuts as there were no peanuts there in the 1950s.

paybackiv (author)2014-11-19

Being from South Carolina, I have never been without these tasty morsels and I'm always surprised whenever I think of the number of people who've never tried them. Thanks for helping spread the goodness!

d_strop (author)2014-11-19

If you cannot find old bay just use any crab and shrimp boil. I grew up with these and turn many of my friends on to them. Thank you for sharing

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