Cooking with South Carolina Boiled Peanuts

They are a well-known summer staple in the South. You see them at roadside farm stands and at farmers markets. And, folks who love a salty snack are easily drawn to the briny taste. But, I’ll betcha didn’t know that Boiled Peanuts are the official snack food of the state of South Carolina.

boiled peanuts

Actually, I didn’t know that either, until I started doing some research. I became inspired after a recent visit to Greenwood, SC, that found me at the Greenwood County Saturday morning farmers’ market eating the best boiled peanuts I’ve ever tasted.

boiled peanuts

The Greenwood County Market, located off Highway 72-221 in Greenwood, SC, is a seasonal market offering local South Carolina grown produce, fruits, local honey, baked goods, homemade soaps & more Wednesday and Saturday mornings, 7 am to noon, from June through October.

boiled peanuts
Cub’s Produce is a Certified South Carolina farm in Greenwood, South Carolina. In season, look for all sorts of fresh produce, delicious honey, jams and jellies; and, of course, fresh cooked boiled peanuts!

Among the offerings from farmers set up indoors and out, you’ll find Cub’s Produce stand. Look for seasonal produce, honey, syrups and cider and a big pot of boiled peanuts hot and at the ready!

While the team at Cub’s didn’t give away any secrets on the “how to” of boiling peanuts, they do sell dried peanuts for folks to buy to take home and boil ( or roast) their own. It all sounds simple enough, but I’ve eaten a lot of not so great, way to slimy boiled peanuts in my day; and I’ll say I think there is nuance in the technique.

How to Boil Peanuts

If you’re into DIY projects, you’ve got to start with fresh dug dried ( as opposed to roasted) peanuts.

Then boiled ’em up in a big pot of salted water till the nuts are tender. The key is tender, but not slimy or mushy ( both of the latter are the result of over cooking) – its a fine line. You want the peanuts inside the shell to be wet and briny, but not too briny. You want the shells to be soft, and damp, but still a bit crunchy… as with all things, practice makes perfect.

Here is what you’ll need….

2-3 pounds of raw dried peanuts ( best found at local North and South Carolina farmers’ markets)

Water to cover

Enough salt to make the water taste like the ocean at the Carolina Coast!

Rinse the peanuts and place them in a large pot. Cover (and then some) with water. You’ll need enough water and room in the pot to allow the peanuts to float. Add the salt. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and let simmer for a couple of hours.

boiled peanuts

You don’t have to boil your own, but whatever you do, don’t buy them in a can. It is well worth the drive to a local market to find fresh properly boiled peanuts. Shelf life on a bag of good boiled peanuts is about a week or two in your fridge. If you want to shell them; mash and save for a later use, they do freeze well for about six months.

boiled peanuts

Once you’ve had your fill for snacking, you can use the peanuts in a host of recipes. For a sweet and salty finish in these and other recipes simply mash the peanuts coarsely with a fork and add a bit of local honey.

Move over Pecans, Heidi’s Boiled Peanut Pie Recipe Debuts on TV

It was my pleasure to feature this first recipe in a cooking segment on Charlotte Today on Friday August 7, 2020. Show Host Colleen Odegaard and I zoomed from my kitchen to hers as I shared how its done.

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In case you missed it live, here is the video recipe, for you viewing pleasure. I think Colleen and her family will agree – its a keeper! Always so much fun to cook with friends, even via Zoom!

I love using the boiled peanuts in this recipe because the salty finish gives this pie the taste of salted caramel. It’s delicious served on its own or topped with ice cream or whipped cream. if you’d like, you could add a few shelled boiled peanuts on top of the ice cream. No such thing as too much of a good thing here!!

Recipes for the pie and a great way to serve greens with peanut sauce and boiled peanut sweet potato soup follow. For lots of fun pictures and more tips on cooking with boiled peanuts, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook . Try these recipes and share your pictures of the finished product – tag me on any of these feeds and I’ll be happy to share.

Heidi’s South Carolina Boiled Peanut Pie

Pie dough to fit a 9-10 inch pie or tart pan – make your own or use your favorite refrigerated dough or buy a ready made crust

boiled peanuts

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3/4 cup shelled South Carolina boiled peanuts

1/2 cup each: pine nuts and shelled pistachios

2 large local eggs

1/4 cup water or milk

Here’s what to do…

Roll out the pie dough to fit into a 9-10 inch pie or tart pan.  Or, use a refrigerated pre-made ready-to-bake pie shell.

Mash the boiled peanuts coarsely with a fork.

With a mixer or wire whisk, combine the sugar and melted butter and blend well, until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla and 2 eggs and blend until everything is incorporated. Add the mashed boiled peanuts and the water or milk to this mix. ( Since we filmed the segment I have also found the coconut water works very nicely in the recipe, if you have some on hand.)

boiled peanuts

Sprinkle the pine nuts and pistachios ( or an equivalent amount of any other nut you enjoy) into the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

boiled peanuts

Top the mixed nuts in the unbaked pie shell with the egg and boiled peanut mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 mins. The center of the pie will be slightly soft. 

boiled peanuts

It is best ( and easiest) to wait till the pie cools to cut and serve in wedges; but, if you just can’t wait, scoop it out of the pie shell and serve it like a cobbler! Delicious either way! Top with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Boiled Peanuts Add a Salty Finish to Savory Soups

Since my trip to Greenwood, I’ve had boiled peanuts on my mind and in my search for recipes I reached out to my friend chef Abdel Dimiati of Kickers Restaurant in Greenwood, SC.

boiled peanuts
Food Writer Heidi Billotto and Greenwood, SC’s Chef Abdel Dimiati of Kickers Take Out

Kickers Restaurant – one of my favorite places to eat in Greenwood – regularly offers four different homemade soups each day of the week, including a delicious sweet potato and peanut soup.

Abdel didn’t give me the exact recipe, but he did share his list of ingredients which included peanut butter. In this next recipe, I substituted in some mashed boiled peanuts and a bit of local honey to taste, the flavor is inspired by Kickers’ Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup.

Sweet Potato and Boiled Peanut Soup

boiled peanuts

As inspired by chef Abdel Diminati of Kicker’s Restaurant in Greenwood, SC

2-3 Tbsp. canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 red bell peppers

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 lbs  sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

4-6 cups chicken or veggie broth

1 to 1 1/2 cups shelled SC boiled peanuts, mashed ( you can add a bit of honey if you’d like the soup to have a slightly sweeter taste)

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the bell peppers and garlic in a food processor or blender and finely chop. The mixture will be liquid-y. Saute the chopped onions in the hot canola oil and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and the sweet potato cubes and continue the  saute for 5-6 minutes more. Add the chicken or veggie stock and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat; add the mashed boiled peanuts, stirring well; allow the mixture to simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 25 or 30 minutes.

Use a food processor or immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, adding more broth if needed. The boiled peanuts should add enough salt, but feel free to adjust seasonings to taste and don’t be afraid to spice it up like they do at Kickers with a dash or two of cayenne.  

Served hot; garnished with a bit of fresh minced flat leaf parsley and some whole shelled  boiled peanuts floating on top!

Boiled Peanuts and Local Greens

Back home, I continued my boiled peanut conversation with the Jzar’s, family farmers at Deep Roots Farm who regularly sell in Charlotte at the Uptown Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings and at the Rosa Parks Farmers’ Market on Tuesday afternoons.

They told me about a recipe they make when their collards are in season. I watched their fun family video on YouTube where they shared their recipe for collards in a peanut sauce, take a look – so much fun to see a family cooking together! Then, again inspired, I created a variation of the same using mashed boiled peanuts and a bit of local honey in place of the peanut butter. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Adding a bit of heat

You’ll also see that the recipe calls for Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend. This is a blend I came up with some time ago and it packs a ton of flavor. Simply purchase three varieties of dried pepper corns. I like Black Lampong, Black Tellicherry and Pink Reunion ( all three are available in Charlotte at the Savory Spice Shop.)

If you’d like to add a citrusy kick, blend in dried coriander seeds. Take equal amounts of each of the peppercorns and the coriander seeds and grind them to your likeness in a coffee or spice grinder. Its the essential oils released from freshly ground peppercorns that make all the difference – try it and see ( and taste) for yourself!

boiled peanuts

Blanched Collards with Boiled Peanut Sauce

2 bunches of collard greens, sliced in a chiffonade (roll the greens in a bundle; and then, sliced to shred them into long ribbons. Watch how the Jzar’s do it in their video. That’s exactly what I do when I chop fresh local greens.)

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup leeks, chopped

1 cup onions, chopped

2 cups diced firm, but ripe tomatoes

Shelled boiled peanuts, you’ll need about 2 cups, mashed with 1-2 Tbsp. local honey

1 Tbsp. sweet smoked paprika ( or if you like things spicy, use hot smoked paprika)

2 tsp. Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend

1 cup vegetable stock

Blanch greens, by dropped them into boiled salted water. When the greens just start to become tender and turn a bright green color. Drain them from the pot and rinse with cool water until they are cold. Reserve.

 In another or the same large pot, sauté the onions, leeks, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes until the onions are tender. Add the mashed boiled peanut/honey mix and blend well. Add in vegetable stock. Season with sweet smoked paprika and Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine all of the ingredients, cooking for 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the reserved blanched collards.

Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.

With Thanks…

boiled peanuts

That’s all for now….Many thanks to Director Barbara Ware and her team at Old 96 Tourism for all of their warm Southern Hospitality and for helping to make this post possible.

Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick counties make up this small corner of the Palmetto State, and every where you turn the area is packed with lots of history and adventure, fun retail opportunities and fabulous food finds. Local area farmers markets, South Carolina specialty foods and a host of talented chefs and restaurants are all just a bite of what you’ll discover. Can’t wait to share more…stay tuned; and when you go to visit Greenwood, Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick, SC, be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou.


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