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This peas recipe takes just 5 minutes! Cooking frozen peas with garlic and lemon makes an easy side dish everyone will love.

Peas recipe
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Shh, we have a secret. Frozen peas can taste amazing in 5 minutes. Yep, you can transform a bag of these frozen green spheres into an easy side dish that everyone around the table will love. (Promise!) The secret? A little olive oil, butter, garlic and lemon. That’s it! Alex and I made this recipe on a challenge: could we take a bag of frozen peas and make them into a delicious side dish? Turns out it’s not as hard as you would think.

Secrets to this peas recipe (how to cook frozen peas)

Alex and I don’t often cook with frozen vegetables. But we’ve been making lots of side dish recipes lately, and peas was a vegetable we wanted to master. Fresh green peas are hard to find, but frozen peas are available year round. Peas used to have an image as one of those scary vegetables. “Eat your peas!” was a common phrase shouted by parents as I was growing up. But here’s what we did to transform a bag of frozen peas into a delightful, delicious side dish (or go right to the recipe)

The Italian-style flavors transform a boring bag of peas into something beautifully delicious and fresh! Not scary at all. In fact: they’re hard to stop eating!

Peas recipe using frozen peas

Are frozen peas already cooked?

Yes! The frozen vegetables you’ll find in the grocery store cooked in water or steam before they are frozen and packaged. This means that many frozen vegetables can simply be thawed before eating. This is true for frozen peas, which can simply be defrosted and used in salads. You can also saute them quickly before serving, like in this peas recipe.

Most cooks’ mistake: overcooking the peas.

The cook time for this peas recipe is just 2 minutes! Because the frozen peas are already cooked, you want to make sure not to over-cook them. Many home cooks make the mistake of cooking peas too long, so they become mushy and greenish brown. (That’s where the term pea green comes from!) To keep them bright green, saute them just 2 minutes until they’re warm.

How to cook frozen peas

A peas recipe with whole garlic cloves (remove before serving!)

This green peas recipe uses whole peeled garlic cloves that you’ll cook in a skillet with the peas. Why add whole cloves and not minced? Well, cooking vegetables with whole cloves infuses a subtle garlic flavor. Adding minced garlic brings a big garlicky flavor, but whole cloves bring the essence of garlic as a hint of flavor. Make sure to remove the garlic cloves when you’re done, and discard them! Because they’re not sauteed, they’re not good to eat.

Peas recipe

Peas fun facts

Why eat your peas? Well, lots of reasons! Here’s a bit more info about these healthy green veggies:

  • They’re part of the legume family, like chickpeas and lentils. But they’re more often eaten as a starchy vegetable (like corn or potatoes).
  • They are high in plant-based protein. ½ cup of peas has 4 grams of plant based protein. The calorie count is also fairly low: 62 calories for the same amount. (Source)
  • Are fresh peas better in recipes than frozen? According to Epicurious, fresh peas aren’t as tasty cooked! Frozen hold up better in recipes and have all the same nutrients.
Peas recipe

More amazing vegetable side dishes

This peas recipe is a whole food plant based side dish (WFPB) that compliments just about any meal. It’s also one a list of ways to make vegetables into 5-star side dishes! Here are some of our other favorite vegetable side dishes:

Want more with lemon? Try these 15 Zesty Lemon Recipes.

This peas recipe is…

Vegetarian, plant-based and gluten-free. For vegan and dairy-free, substitute vegan butter, refined coconut oil or more olive oil. 

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Peas recipe

Peas with Lemon

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This peas recipe takes just 5 minutes! Cooking frozen peas with garlic and lemon makes an easy side dish everyone will love.


  • 2 cups frozen peas (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon, optional


  1. Rinse the peas under warm water and shake off excess liquid.
  2. Smash and peel the garlic cloves.
  3. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and frozen peas and cook for 2 minutes until warmed through but still bright green.
  4. Zest the lemon. Season with the kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon zest. Discard the garlic cloves and serve immediately.


*Substitute vegan butter, refined coconut oil or more olive oil for vegan and dairy-free. 

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Sarah Mitchell says:

    Hi there! I just wanted to point out that this recipe is incorrectly labeled as dairy-free and vegan, as it contains butter.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Thank you! We added a note to the recipe that for vegan and dairy-free, you can substitute vegan butter, refined coconut oil or more olive oil. Thanks for the note!

  2. Avis Turner says:

    Looking for a little something extra to go with meal for Thursday!! This looks perfect.