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27 Jun 2022
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Certain foods just scream, “The South.” If you see them on the menu or on the dinner table, chances are you are located below the Mason-Dixon line.

Among the telltale foods - BBQ, grits, cornbread, fig preserves, fried green tomatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, okra, and last but definitely not least…. BOILED PEANUTS.

Like okra, boiled peanuts are one of those love-it or hate-it foods. They do have a particular texture, that’s for sure. Those who love them, really REALLY love them; they’ve been known to have them shipped to them when they’re unlucky enough to be located outside the South.

In fact, the famous Lee Brothers from Charleston, Matt and Ted, launched their whole mega food empire with boiled peanuts. They had moved to the Northeast and missed them terribly. So they started The Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, bringing the salty southern delicacy to New York and the world. Next thing you know, they’re on the Cooking Channel and writing for Martha Stewart Living, Bon Appetit and The New York Times. And yes, they own the domain name, 

What are they, exactly?

Boiled peanuts are just what they sound like - except here in the South, people often drop off the “-ed” off the end when they pronounce the name. “Boil’ peanuts.”

Basically, you boil peanuts in a whole lot of water and quite a bit of salt - with optional seasonings and things thrown in for extra flavor and kick - for many, many hours. They soak up a lot of the salty flavorings and end up getting soft, kind of like a cooked pea or bean.  They are legumes, too, after all. You remove the shells and eat the peanuts inside. The small, immature ones are called “pops,” and you can eat those whole. They tend to be the saltiest as they absorb a lot of the brine.

The peanut you start with is crucial. You need to get either raw or green peanuts. Raw peanuts are full-sized but are not yet fully dried.  Green peanuts have just been harvested, aren’t dried at all and must be refrigerated. You can find them in local grocery stores (area Harris-Teeters carry raw peanuts in season) as well as farms and farmer's markets. 

The peanut crop comes in around July and August, so that’s your best bet at finding them fresh, if you’d like to make your own. More about that in a minute.


Boiled peanuts have been popular across the South - from the Carolinas down to Florida, over to Mississippi, even up towards Ohio  -  for well over a century. The first published recipe for making them dates back to 1899. 

One historian claims their sale as a snack food began in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in the mid-1920’s. Their roots go even further back than that. It’s believed the dish originated as so many others did here in the South - with enslaved people from West Africa, who brought countless delicious foods and preparation methods with them.

It’s Official! The State Snack

Well, thanks to former Governor Mark Sanford, it’s the law, as of May 1, 2006. That’s when he signed bill H. 4585 declaring that boiled peanuts are THE official snack food of the state of South Carolina. Yeeee-haw!

How to make ‘em

If you’d like to make them yourself, they’re pretty easy and fun. The hardest part is finding the raw or green peanuts to start with. You can make them on the stove, on a propane burner outside, or even over a fire pit. 

One of the easiest methods is in a slow cooker. Just fill it up with water and a bunch of raw/green peanuts. Add about a cup of salt and optional seasonings*. Start it on high for about 2 hours, then switch it to low and let it cook for another 6 hours or so. Alternatively, you can start it on low heat early in the evening, then cook them all through the night. They’ll be good to go as you head out to the beach in the morning. (FYI, you can cook them for up to 24 hours or so, as long as they have enough water. Just add more water as you go.) 

*Optional seasonings  -  this is where it gets fun. Add any of the following in along with the salt: hot sauce like Tabasco, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay, dill pickle juice & dill, ham hock, or beer. Or get creative.

Where to find ‘em

No surprise here, there are loads of places around the Lowcountry where you can find really good already-prepared boiled peanuts. Keep an eye peeled for roadside stands, as they tend to pop up in all sorts of places. I saw a great one in front of Sam’s Club last weekend.

Here are some other terrific options, and favorites of locals around here:

  • Timbo’s Boiled Peanuts, off Ashley River Road in West Ashley. Just look for the stand shaped like a giant orange peanut!
  • The Flea Market at the Fairgrounds in Ladson  -  keep an eye peeled for the guy with the yellow trailer and a German Shepherd in his truck.
  • Tony’s Boiled Peanuts at The Joe, the Riverdogs baseball stadium.  They’re named after Tony the Peanut Man, who was a beloved singing presence at the ballpark for decades, and one of the sweetest guys you’d ever meet.
  • Benton’s Peanut Farm in Walterboro.
  • Uncle Chuck’s Boiled Peanuts in Ridgeville (17a and Highway 61).
  • Mama’s Peanuts on Farrell Street in Moncks Corner.
  • The Shelter restaurant near Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant; they have Cajun flavored as a starter.
  • Hyman’s Seafood on Meeting Street, as well as Poogan’s Porch in downtown Charleston.
  • Home Team BBQ (Sullivan’s Island and Charleston).
  • Area farmers markets, including downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley.

So, y’all come check out South Carolina’s official snack… whether you buy ‘em or make ‘em yourself!    

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger