Mushy Peas

published Feb 21, 2023
Mushy Peas Recipe

Learn how to make the quintessential British side dish.

Serves4 to 6

Makes2 1/2 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Tara Holland

Mushy peas — the classic British side dish — are the ultimate accompaniment to fish and chips. They are sold piping hot in styrofoam containers at “chippys,” the slang term for fish-and-chip shops — especially in the north of England. In the U.K., mushy peas are sold in most grocery stores in cans. You can even pick up different types of canned mushy peas: chip shop-style or original (to this day, I honestly cannot tell the difference between the two!).

I like to douse my mushy peas in malt vinegar and a generous flurry of ground white pepper, both of which are common offerings in chip shops, along with the white vinegar they save from the jars of the giant pickled onions they sell. Mushy peas are most definitely one of those love-or-hate dishes, and I’m 100% Team Mushy Peas!

What Type of Peas Do You Need to Make Mushy Peas?

Traditionally, this British side dish is made with dried marrowfat peas, which are mature green peas that are allowed to dry in the field. The dried peas are soaked in hot water for 12 to 16 hours with baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda, as the Brits call it!), then rinsed, covered in cold water, and simmered until they become mush. You can also buy them in a convenient ready-to-soak baking soda packet.

Now I’m a big fan of being authentic, especially when it comes to British food, but when I get a craving I need my mushy pea fix immediately — and, as I don’t generally stock up on canned mushy peas, I can make a much quicker version with frozen peas, which give a brighter green hue than the sludgy green color you get in cans or at fish-and-chip shops.

Where Did Mushy Peas Originate From?

Marrowfat peas have been around since the 1700s, and apparently the first fish-and-chip shop opened in the 1800s. Mushy peas as a side dish are thought to have stemmed from the north of England during that time and eventually became popular in fish-and-chip shops across the country.

What Do British People Typically Eat Mushy Peas With?

Although fish and chips are the most famous dish to have with mushy peas, they also are a great side dish to serve with the following:

If You’re Making Mushy Peas, a Few Tips

  • Try adding mint to your peas. While I’m not a fan, some people are partial to adding fresh mint to homemade mushy peas. If you want to give it a whirl, add a quarter cup of coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves to the food processor, along with the peas. 
  • Mix up your dairy options. Milk can be substituted for the heavy cream, and the butter can be reduced to two tablespoons for a lighter option if desired.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, mash by hand. You can use a potato masher, although the texture won’t be quite as smooth.

Mushy Peas Recipe

Learn how to make the quintessential British side dish.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6

    medium scallions

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages

    frozen green peas (do not thaw)

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground white pepper or freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice 6 medium scallions (about 1 1/2 cups). Juice 1/2 lemon until you have 1 tablespoon.

  2. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen green peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are thawed, 3 to 5 minutes.

  3. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground white or freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and let cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

  4. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the lemon juice and process until it has formed a textured paste, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as needed, about 2 minutes total.

  5. Return the mushy peas to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until heated through if desired. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The color may lose its brightness after a couple of days.