What's the Difference Between Snow Peas, Snap Peas, and Garden Peas?

Ingredient Intelligence

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Snow, snap, and garden peas are all climbing plants and members of the legume family, but there are subtle differences between the three. Here's a guide on what they look and taste like, plus a few recipes to get you cooking with all three.

Snow Peas
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Snow Peas

Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods since they are often used in stir-fries. They are flat with very small peas inside, and the whole pod is edible although the tough "strings" along the edges are usually removed before eating. Snow peas are mildly flavored and can be served raw or cooked.

Garden Peas
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Garden Peas

Garden peas are also sometimes called sweet peas or English peas. The pods are firm and rounded, and the round peas inside need to removed, or shelled, before eating (the pods are discarded). The peas are sweet and and may be eaten raw or cooked, and these are the common peas that are sold shelled and frozen. Peas get starchy and mealy as they get larger or if they are not cooked quickly after they are picked.

Snap Peas
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Snap Peas

Snap peas are also known as sugar snap peas, and are a cross between snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavor. Snap peas may be eaten raw or cooked. There may be tough "strings" at the seams of the pods that need to be removed before being eaten, but stringless varieties are also now available.

(Image credits: Christine Gallary)