What are snow peas?
Snow peas are an edible-pod variety of pea with flat pods and thin, slightly translucent pod walls. Unlike many other types of pea, their pods are free from non-digestible fibre, and they are eaten whole, both pod and peas, although the tough strings along the edges are usually removed.
The name ‘snow peas’ may refer to the plant’s ability to survive harsh weather conditions. Ideally, they should be grown from early spring through until summer, just like other peas, but if there are any unseasonable cold spells they are frost hardy and will survive better than other varieties. They may also be referred to as Chinese pea pods, due to their popularity in stir-fries, and are sometimes referred to as ‘mangetout’ in the British Isles, although this term applies to all edible-pod peas and not just snow peas.
Snow peas are actually harvested before the peas themselves are ripe, as this is when the pods are at their most tender. They have a mild, sweet flavour, and can be served both raw and cooked.
Lemony shrimp and snow pea pasta: this vibrant summer pasta from Taste of Home pairs sweet, crunchy snow peas with juicy shrimp and zesty lemon for a light but flavour-filled lunch the whole family will love.
Chicken and snow pea stir-fry: this Chinese-inspired dish from The Woks of Life uses Asian flavours to enhance the two main ingredients. Ready in just 15 minutes, this is the perfect no-fuss weeknight meal. Serve with rice.
Eggplant and snow pea curry: a light, aromatic Thai dish, made with sweet snow peas and meaty eggplant, and cooked in coconut oil flavoured with chilli, garlic, lemongrass and kaffir lime. This simple, summery dish is suitable for vegetarians, and can also be made vegan-friendly by switching the honey for a pinch of sugar.
Snow peas with butter and lemon: this fresh, healthy side from The Spruce Eats uses zesty lemon, toasted almonds and a touch of butter to enhance the natural flavour of the snow peas.
Stir-fried snow peas: another quick and easy side dish, from Green Bowl 2 Soul, this recipe uses garlic, toasted sesame seeds, ginger and chilli flakes for those who like their food with a bit of a kick. It’s full of flavour and crunch, and ready to eat in just 15 minutes.
Snow peas with pine nuts and mint: stir-frying is a great way to cook snow peas while preserving their freshness and crunchy texture. This tasty side dish from Simply Recipes accentuates their freshness even more with a handful of mint leaves and adds extra flavour and crunch with a scattering of pine nuts.
Baby vegetable jumble: this vibrant summer dish from Food Network is a celebration of garden vegetables at their sweetest and most tender. Baby carrots, snow peas, asparagus, radishes and beans are lightly blanched and drizzled with a butter and herb dressing for a dish that’s colourful, crunchy and delicious.
Snow peas poriyal: for a stir-fry with a difference, try this Indian poriyal by Simple Indian Recipes, made with diced snow peas, black lentils, chilli and spices.
Lemony snow peas and mushrooms: crunchy snow peas and bright, zesty lemon pair beautifully with savoury mushrooms and garlic butter in this flavourful side dish by Chatelaine.
Garlic sesame snow peas: another quick and easy stir-fry, by Alaska From Scratch, with garlic and sesame seeds used to complement the fresh sweetness of snow peas.
How to prep snow peas
Snow peas are eaten whole, which makes them super easy to prepare. All you really need to do is trim away a few of the tougher parts, and you’re ready to go. Follow our simple, step-by-step guide.
Step 1. Wash the snow peas to remove any dirt, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Step 2. Place the snow peas on a cutting board, and use a sharp knife to trim the ends.
Step 3. Remove the tough strings that seal the pod on either side. You should be able to do this with your fingers, but you can use the knife to help if necessary.
Step 4. Cut your snow peas to the required size. You can leave them as they are, cut diagonally in half, or cut them into thin slices lengthways.
Step 5. Enjoy your snow peas.
How are snow peas different from other peas?
There are many different types of pea, each with its own unique attributes. Here’s how to tell snow peas from some of the most popular alternatives.
Garden peas are what most people think of as peas. Also known as English peas or green peas, their pods are 3 to 4 inches long, with a firm, rounded shape. Garden peas do not have edible pods, and must be shelled before eating. They have a sweet flavour, and can be eaten raw or cooked. Discover new recipe ideas for this tasty and versatile veggie with these seven ways to prepare green peas.
Sugar snap peas are an edible-pod pea, and like snow peas, may also be referred to as ‘mangetout’ in the British Isles. They are actually a cross between snow peas and garden peas, and have a more rounded pod like garden peas, whereas snow peas have flat pods.