Snow peas are a tender, sweet vegetable that’s versatile enough to be eaten raw, or cooked in a variety of ways. In this guide you’ll learn how to buy, store, and cook them at home, plus get recipe inspiration.
For centuries peas have made up an essential part of diets all over the world, from the simple English pea in Europe to the edible snow pea pod in Asia.
All peas are nutritious, but the thin and delicious snow pea is one of the easiest and most versatile options out there. But the key to enjoying them in your diet is to learn how to cook them correctly.
In this guide I’ve discussed everything you need to confidently add snow peas to your grocery list. Discover when they’re in season, what they taste like, how to prepare and store them, and much more.
Snow Peas vs Sugar Snap Peas
Unlike traditional English peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas are sold still in their pod. This is for good reason! English peas have inedible, fibrous pods, and also go bad quickly once shelled, so they’re mostly sold frozen or canned.
Both sugar and snow peas however have tender, edible pods that are just as good to eat as the peas inside.
The difference between those two is the shape and texture of the pod and peas. Sugar, or snap peas are thicker, juicy, and have a noticeable crunch when you bite into them.
Snow peas are thin enough to see a clear definition of the peas through the pod, if there are any peas at all. The peas are often flat, small, and very tender. They’re extremely popular in Asian cuisine, and are often called Chinese peas because of it.
There’s a reason that peas have been appearing on dinner plates for hundreds of years. All of them, snow peas included, are a very nutritious addition to any diet.
They’re low in fat, but rich in fiber, carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and many vitamins and antioxidants.
Buying & Storing
Snow peas are a cool weather crop, which means you can usually look for them to be readily available in mid-late spring, early summer, and mid-fall.
Check at the local farmers market if you have one for the most fresh and flavorful options, but you can also usually find them at grocery stores year round.
When shopping, look for smooth, unblemished pods that are wide, flat, and somewhat flexible, but not limp or soft.
Once you’ve got them home, they’re best kept in a closed container in the fridge. They should keep for 7-10 days that way.
If you can’t eat them by then, try freezing them. All you need is a quick blanch first, and I’ve shared how to do that in the cooking methods section below.
How to Prepare Snow Peas
One of the most wonderful things about cooking with snow peas is that they’re very easy to prepare.
Start by washing them. Then remove the tough string that runs along the edge of each pod. You can do this by hand, or with a small knife.
To use a knife, trim the stem end off. Then use the edge of the blade, or your fingernail, to pull the string from the flat side of the pod.
Or, you can try snapping the stem off to the side so that it breaks between the seams. This often leaves the string still attached and you can simply pull the stem piece down to easily remove it.
Can you Eat Snow Peas Raw?
Snow peas are perfectly safe, and very tasty, when eaten raw. After trimming or pulling away the strings, dip them in hummus or snack on them as they are for a crisp, sweet, and refreshing bite.
They’re also great in salads when tossed with a light vinaigrette and other veggies, like this snow pea and radish salad.
How to Cook Snow Peas
Snow peas are very easy to cook with and have a natural sweetness. All over the world you’ll find them used in dishes like curries, stir fries, salads, soups, and more.
The key is not overcooking them, which will lead to soggy, limp peas. Instead stick with quick cooking methods like the ones shared below.
This is one of my favorite ways to cook snow peas because it’s very quick. It brings out the natural flavors, while retaining the tender-crisp texture.
All you need is 5 minutes, a hot skillet, oil, and your choice of seasonings. My preferred sauteed snow pea recipe uses toasted sesame oil and garlic, and is available in the recipe card below.
The quick cooking time also makes them a popular choice for stir-fries, especially in Asian cooking.
You can toss them with rice, beef, pork, seafood, noodles, tofu, chicken, or simply more veggies and quickly add texture, nutrition, and flavor to your recipe.
One of my favorite combinations is my chicken and snow pea stir fry, which uses a Latin inspired sauce for a delicious and fun spin on a quick dinner.
Blanching is a great technique to prepare snow peas for salads, cold dishes, or to freeze them. It draws out their natural sweetness, boosts the color, and makes the pods less fibrous.
Start by dropping the peas into boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then transfer them to an ice bath. Drain and freeze or use blanched snow peas in another dish.
You can add them to salads like this snow pea and broccoli recipe or enjoy them in noodle bowls like this delicious, veggie loaded jade noodle recipe. Or you can get creative, like my fellow blogger does in this delicious and inventive cream cheese stuffed snow pea recipe.
Steaming is another very quick way to tenderize snow peas. All you need is a bit of water and a few minutes. I’ve shared an easy, quick recipe for steamed snow peas in the recipe card below.
When you’re short on time but still want something quick and nutritious, try cooking snow peas in the microwave. They get tender quickly, and are delicious when tossed with simple seasonings.
I hope this inspires you to add snow peas to your regular grocery list. The green thin pods, tender-crisp texture, and natural sweetness make them a great, healthy addition to any menu. Check out my snow pea recipe collection for more inspiration, and I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to use them too!
How to Cook Snow Peas
Sauteed Snow Peas
- 1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil , butter can also be used
- ½ lb. (225g) snow peas
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- Salt and black pepper , to taste
- Sesame seeds for serving (optional)
Steamed Snow Peas
- ½ lb. snow peas , trimmed
Sauteed Snow Peas.
- Prepare snow peas by removing the tough strings of pea pods according to the instructions in the article above.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the snow peas and toss for 2-3 minutes until bright green.
- Season with salt and pepper and toss for a few seconds more. The pea pods should be cooked through but still slightly crunchy.
- You can also toss the beans in some lemon juice, more sesame oil, soy sauce or your favorite hot sauce like sriracha. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!
Steamed Snow Peas.
- Bring about 1 inch of water in a pot fitted with a steamer basket. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the basket.
- Place the snow peas in a basket and cover with a lid. Steam for about 2-3 minutes, until crisp-tender and bright green. Check often to avoid overcooking.