Boiled peanuts are a classic Southern snack mostly found at road side stands and local convenient stores where they are boiled in a pot for hours in salty water. I'll show you how to make Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts in the Instant Pot pressure cooker in a fraction of that time.
If you're not from the South, it may sound crazy to boil a "nut". You're probably used to eating peanuts roasted at a baseball park or a roadhouse steak restaurant. After you realize peanuts are actually a legume like a chickpea, it makes more sense to boil them, but I'll admit when I first moved to Alabama and saw the sign "Boiled Peanuts", I was not impressed.
My first encounter with boiled peanuts
I'm a newbie to boiled peanuts and to be honest, the first time I saw a boiled peanut shack (seriously a shack) I turned my nose up and said out loud, "Gross!" It was alongside a road in Mississippi with a hand-written sign that simply stated Boiled Peanuts.
I was on my way from Arkansas to Birmingham, Alabama to interview for the test kitchen position at Oxmoor House (Southern Living cookbooks publisher at the time). The four lane 278 highway (now I22) from Memphis to Birmingham was not yet finished so I traveled the two lane 78 highway (which I loved getting to drive through the quaint small towns-unless I was in a hurry).
I was working as a quality control manager in a large hospital as my first job right out of college and food safety was my job! The sight of an outdoor kettle cooking goobers to a mushy pulp sounded unappealing to me.
Why cook Boiled Peanuts in an Instant Pot?
Boiled Peanuts couldn't be easier or quicker to make than in an Instant Pot pressure cooker. Boiled peanuts are one of those Southern delicacies that you just know takes hours to cook on the stovetop, so many people avoid making them altogether and only enjoy them if they are lucky enough to find a roadside hut selling them. The Instant Pot solves that problem and cooks them in about an hour.
Many, many years later, I decided to make a batch in my Instant Pot just to see what they were like since I'd seen plenty of boiled peanut pictures on Pinterest and they didn't look mushy. I mean, chickpeas are one of my absolute favorite things to eat...yes, right out of the can... so maybe, just maybe these legume cousins might be similar.
If you are already a boiled peanut fan, you are probably laughing at me right now. But, y'all, I loved them! They were addictive and except for the messy juice (which I know many people think that's part of the experience), I would have eaten the whole plate I fixed myself.
Where and when to buy raw peanuts
Now, truth be told, I made these when Publix had raw peanuts on sale BOGO (buy one get one). You can still buy raw ones in the produce section. Don't mistake them for green peanuts or roasted peanuts. Green ones are fresh peanuts and are highly perishable so they might not be as available as raw peanuts. Raw peanuts are air dried but not cooked or roasted.
If you find a sale on raw peanuts, stock up and freeze them in the shell so you can have boiled peanuts in the Spring and Summer. I found them on sale for two dollars in August! Still Tasty, the ultimate shelf life guide, says they will keep in the freezer indefinitely.
Can I make Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts with green peanuts?
Yes. If you are lucky enough to find green peanuts in the mid summer to fall season. Since they are not dried, they contain more moisture and will not take as long to cook. I cooked 1 pound of them for 42 minutes at HIGH pressure with water to cover them and 3 tablespoons of salt. I used 4 cups of water-they actually float to the top. I let them naturally release because that allows the shells soak up more of the salty water, making the peanuts saltier. I used my 3-quart Instant Pot for 1 pound of green peanuts because they weigh more per ounce.
What is the difference in raw peanuts and green peanuts?
Green peanuts are freshly harvested, uncooked peanuts with 35% to 50% moisture content. Raw peanuts are uncooked peanuts that have been dried to reduce the moisture to between 7% and 10%. Both can be bought shelled or in the shell.
When can I serve boiled Peanuts?
Make them when you tailgate or "homegate" for the big football game, baseball, or soccer game or concession stand. Serve them at Halloween and birthday parties or Homecoming bon fires.
Actually, you will HAVE to make them yourself in the winter because I doubt there are any roadside shacks after Halloween. Homemade peanuts are ten times better than the can of boiled peanuts in the grocery store.
This is one of those recipes, like soup, that gets better the next day. My favorite part is the salty, slurpy liquid and it is more prevalent when the peanuts soak in water overnight before cooking or in the fridge after cooking.
Where can I buy boiled peanuts?
I did spot some boiled peanuts by the cup at our Gardendale Foodland grocery store. They were keeping them warm in slow cookers and selling them in styrofoam cups. In the early summer and early fall, you might find some roadside stands serving them. Also, they are sold at festivals and often local gas stations. So, check out your local stores and shop local!
Just remember your guests will need a plate or bag to toss the shells as they crack them open.
How to cook Boiled Peanuts in the Instant Pot
I will give you the breakdown of how to make boiled peanuts in a 6 quart Instant Pot multi-function pressure cooker. To make them on the stovetop, you basically place them in a large pot with 1/4 cup salt, add water to cover 2 inches, then cover and bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how soft you want them. But you have to keep watching to make sure the water doesn't boil away or boil over.
Add 1 pound raw peanuts in the shell in the pot that sits inside the Instant Pot base. You can turn the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot upside down on the peanuts to hold them down, if you like.
If you grow them yourself or buy them at a farmers market with dirt on them, make sure you have washed them thoroughly, first.
Add 1/4 cup salt or sea salt and 6 cups of water or enough to just cover them (although they tend to float) to the Instant Pot, stirring to distribute the salt. The peanuts will float to the top and that's ok.
I researched plenty of boiled peanut recipes and several swore by sea salt but you know me, I like to use what I have on hand so I used table salt and they were perfect!
Add a tablespoon (or two) of Tony Cachere's Creole seasoning if you want a little kick in your boiled peanuts. Add another tablespoon if you prefer them spicy. The longer they steep in the liquid, the more flavor is absorbed.
Tip: The peanuts inside absorb more of the flavor if they sit in the water (in the fridge) overnight.
Cook raw peanuts 70 minutes on high pressure for peanuts that are similar texture of a chickpea.
If you like them "slurpy-style" where they are soft and mushy and "slurp" them right out of the shell-juice 'n all, add another 10 to 15 minutes. I have decided 70 minutes is just the way I like them, sort of in the middle.
See NOTES in my recipe below for cooking times.
Be sure to push the valve over to sealing and not venting to cook them. It took 17 minutes to come up to pressure and start cooking. After 70 minutes of cooking time, let it naturally release pressure (NRP). Mine took 25 minutes to release the pressure naturally. You can keep them in the Instant Pot for hours by pressing the Keep Warm button.
Do you ever add vinegar to boiled peanuts?
I had never heard about adding apple cider vinegar to a pot of boiled peanuts before cooking them until recently. My friend and fellow Southern food blogger, Stacey Little creator at Southern Bite, told me someone had passed along that tip to him.
I'm a huge fan of apple cider vinegar and truly believe it is God's natural gift to humankind. It will almost cure all, clean all, and kill all (weeds/poison ivy). So, if someone tells me it may enhance the flavor of peanuts while boiling ....I'm inclined to believe them!
I also think it might be possible that the acid in the vinegar aids in breaking down the shell walls of the peanuts to let the salty water enter in a little better. No proof here-just a bit of food science pondering.
Here's a link to Stacey's own Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts recipe. Check out his blog. He has some yummy recipes!
Is it ok to serve Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts at room temperature
Let the boiled peanuts cool enough so you don't burn your tongue and enjoy them hot or at room temperature. The quality control manager (and former caterer) comes out in me when it comes to storing safely boiled peanuts because of food safety.
As with any food stored in the danger zone (between 40 degrees and 140 degrees), food borne illnesses can occur. Room temperature is 72 degrees so it's in the danger zone. Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts should not be the danger zone temperature for more than 1 hour.
You can keep them warm and out of the danger zone temperatures by setting your Instant Pot to Keep Warm and serve them right out of the Instant Pot.
When stored in the refrigerator, boiled peanuts can keep up to 10 days. Here's a handy guide from Do You Cook With Me that also tells you how to freeze boiled peanuts.
Can I make them in the slow cooker?
Yes! Fortunately, the Instant Pot has a slow cooker function. If you only have a slow cooker, no worries. Either way, just slow cook the peanuts on HIGH 8 hours or overnight or until desired softness. If you like them pretty soft, count on up to 12 hours.
What is this fish inside my peanut?
Have you ever noticed the inside of a peanut has something that looks like a fish?
I remember as a child cracking open peanuts my dad would grow and oh-so-carefully biting into the peanut so as not to disturb the fish inside. I would eat the fish first, then eat the rest of the peanut. I never knew why there was a fish inside peanuts, so I did a little research recently and, of course, it's not a fish at all. It sure was a fun tradition, though.
The fish-shaped nub inside a peanut is the embryo of the "seed". The peanut is the seed. You can read more about it here from Huff Post.
More Peanut and Peanut Butter recipes to enjoy:
If you love peanuts and peanut butter, you may also like these recipes:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cheesecake Also made in the Instant Pot.
If you try these recipes be sure to leave a comment below to let me know how you like them!
Instant Pot Boiled Peanuts
- pressure cooker
- 1 pound dried, raw peanuts (not roasted)
- 1/4 cup salt or sea salt
- 6 cups cold water (enough to cover them)
- Stir together the peanuts, salt, and enough water to just cover them in a 3- to 6 quart Instant Pot. You can actually place the trivet upside down on top of the peanuts to hold them down in the water. Secure the lid on the pot.
- Close the pressure release valve, making sure it is on sealing, not venting. Select MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK and set the pot at HIGH pressure for 70 minutes. (70 minutes is middle of the road softness. If you like your boiled peanuts barely soft try 60 minutes. You can always put the lid back on and go another 10 minutes. If you like your boiled peanuts down right mushy cook them for 80 minutes.) This will take about 17 minutes to come up to full pressure.
- At the end of cooking time and it beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally, undisturbed (NPR). (This means do nothing. The shiny metal pressure valve will drop when all pressure is released. This will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Make sure the pressure release valve has dropped, then remove the lid carefully. The liquid inside the shells will be HOT so be careful if you eat the peanuts immediately. I like to let them cool enough so they are still warm but not piping hot. This is one of those recipes, like soup, that gets better the next day. My favorite part is the salty, slurpy liquid and it is more prevalent when the peanuts soak in water overnight before cooking or in the fridge after cooking. Enjoy!
Where can I find more information about peanuts grown in the South?
Here are two excellent resources for your in-depth questions about peanuts grown in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia.