How to Cook Split Peas + Our Best Split Pea Recipes!

Close up of a pile of green split peas.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Plant-Based Protein20 minutes
Split peas are so underrated. These pulses are packed with nutrition, cook quickly, and are super delicious! Let us show you the joy of split peas.

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And the most underrated pulse award goes to…split peas! Seriously, other than the occasional pot of soup, most people don’t experience the joy of these little green guys regularly in their lives. 

Just like all the other pulses out there (pulses include dry peas, chickpeas, lentils, and beans.), split peas are a super affordable, delicious, sustainable, protein-packed source of fiber. But unlike their more finicky cousins, chickpeas and dried beans, split peas require NO presoaking or precooking, meaning they cook up in a FLASH. Woohoo for weeknight shortcuts!

Ingredients for salad such as uncooked split peas, broth, frozen corn kernels, ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine, and chopped fresh herbs.

What are split peas? Are they the same as peas?

Dried split peas are the same as regular green peas that you might have as a side dish for dinner. The difference comes in how they are processed. Instead of eating them fresh, split peas are shelled, dried, and then split in half along the natural seam of the pea—this splitting process is what makes them faster to cook.

Are split peas good for you?

Split peas are packed with tons of fiber, plant-based protein, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. They are a great addition to your plate!

Overhead of serving bowl full of finished split pea salad with wooden serving spoon scooping up the first serving.

Are split peas the same as green lentils?

They look a lot alike, but split peas and green lentils come from two entirely different plants. In many split pea recipes, they can be used almost interchangeably, however, split peas tend to have a bit of a sweeter flavor and creamier texture. Green lentils can have an earthy flavor and a bit of a gritty texture. 

Which is healthier—lentils or split peas?

Both are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and nutrients. They are both excellent additions to your diet! Some folks do struggle with digesting pulses, so if you find yourself having tummy discomfort after eating either, you can presoak them to see if that gives you some relief.

What do split peas taste like?

A lot like sweet green peas! They have that sweet flavor and creamy texture that makes peas a family favorite.

Overhead of a party platter of split pea hummus with veggies and pita chips for dipping.

What’s the difference between green split peas and yellow split peas?

Not a whole lot! You can basically use them interchangeably (or even mixed) in recipes. Yellow split peas do have a bit of a more mild flavor.

Do I need to soak split peas before cooking them?

Nope, split peas cook up super quickly, even without soaking. If you tend to have digestive issues with beans and lentils, you might benefit from a split pea presoak, though. Just place the dried split peas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak at room temperature over night. When it’s time to cook, drain and rinse the split peas before cooking.

Overhead of split pea and ham soup in a bowl with a spoon in it.

How do I cook split peas?

Split peas are typically cooked in something—like a soup—but split peas can also be cooked solo for adding into salads or putting in as part of an awesome grain bowl. Here’s the method:

  1. Pour the dried split peas into a bowl or tray, and pick through. looking for any debris. Then rinse the split peas well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Add the split peas to a pot with your preferred cooking liquid—water, vegetable broth, and bone broth are all good options.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the split peas are tender but not mushy and most of the liquid is absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes.

Can I cook them in the Instant Pot?

Sure can! The Instant Pot makes even quicker work of split peas, although the Instant Pot is quite a powerful tool and tends to make split peas go a little mushy and shapeless.

  1. Pour the dried split peas into a bowl or tray, and pick through looking for any debris. Then rinse the split peas well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Add the split peas to the Instant Pot with your preferred cooking liquid—water, vegetable broth, and bone broth are all good options.
  3. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 7 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before venting.
 
Close up of a pile of green split peas.

Basic Cooked Split Peas Recipe

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Split peas are most often cooked in another recipe (like Split Pea and Ham soup), but you can also cook split peas "straight" for use in salads or other dishes.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup dried split peas
  • 1 1/2 cups water, vegetable broth, chicken broth, or bone broth
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour the dried split peas into a bowl or tray, and pick through looking for any debris. Then rinse the split peas well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  2. Add the split peas to a pot with your preferred cooking liquid—water, vegetable broth, and bone broth are all good options.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the split peas are tender, but not mushy and most of the liquid is absorbed. about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and season with salt to taste.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 52Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 438mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Our Favorite Split Pea Recipes

Looking for interesting ways to use up a bag of split peas? We’ve got you covered, from our best split pea soup, to an unexpected split pea curry. Here are some of our fan-favorite split pea recipes.

And here are some of our favorite split pea recipes from around the web:

 

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

12 Responses
  1. Chris

    Hi Carrie,

    Great article but you got me on “pulses” I had no idea what a pulse was so you have not only added new food ideas but a new word to my vocabulary! Thanks for all your work for us.

  2. I have been known to eat hummus as a meal, quite often, and my plate looks really similar to yours but…I’ve never tried split pea hummus. This looks great. Can’t wait to try it (and the other split pea recipes too).

  3. Jane

    Just made the split pea curry, and with a couple of tweaks, it was delicious! I added extra paste as it didn’t have enough flavour, and even then it needed more so I added a tsp or so of yellow curry powder. Because we like it spicy, I added some cayenne pepper. Pretty sure it will be a hit with the family and I’d probably double the recipe next time! Thanks!

  4. Robin G. Jordan

    You can also make hummus using dried fava beans/broad bean, dried peas, and red or brown lentils as well as yellow or green split peas and substitute other seed and nut butters for the tahini., including peanut butter. I prefer to use roasted sesame tahini to raw sesame tahini. Cider viegar may be substituted for the lemon juice. I prefer to use stone-pressed extra virgin olive oil for its fruity flavor. I freshly roast cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and grind them in a surabachi mortar. Freshly roasted and ground coriander seeds may be used in addition to or in place of the cumin. Try using fresh ginger juice in place of the cumin and coriander with green or yellow split peas.

  5. Bernadette

    Thanks for the pulses ideas! Lent season is around the corner. These prices on steak and dried beans and peas seams like more than 10 or 20 years ago but the recipe ideas are fantastic! I get help from a food bank and don’t know how to use these foods like lentils and split peas and red onions and lemons. Thanks for the recipe ideas! -Ash Wed 2019

  6. Oola

    Getting the peas to cook just right for the salad was a bit beyond me. Even though I tried to simmer them, the water had cooked away before they were done. Unfortunately, when I added a bit more water, it didn’t take long before they were mushy. The flavor is still decent, but I’m afraid things got diluted too much with the peas. I’m not sorry I tried this, though. I usually cook only for myself and had been spending too much of the COVID19 sheltering time making big batches of stuff in my Instantpot and freezing leftovers that I eat and eat and eat. Split peas seemed like perfect candidates for quicker, smaller batches, no pressure required. I will try the curry for sure. And what the heck, the hummus! Though I’ll probably warm it and serve it over steamed veggies. No matter how full I get, crudites and dip never feels like a meal, and I don’t have the discipline to eat little enough of them to have a meal after. But thanks for having all three recipes close together.

  7. Kalea Wootton

    The peas didn’t mash enough for me and kept falling out after the ingredients were mixed together. I took the peas that dell out and tried boiling them again to soften them and mash them more. About to combine back into mixture. Is that not recommended once the” dough” begins to form ? Hoping someone responds right away lol if not I will just post an update of how it went either way.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Kalea! We’re not sure which recipe you’re referring to, so we can’t say for sure if that would work or not. But we hope it turned out well!

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

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