Even the best canned peas can’t contend with fresh peas. Hell, they can’t even contend with frozen peas. They’re mushier. That garden-fresh flavor just doesn’t last in a can filled with briny pea water. They aren’t even the same color as fresh and frozen peas. But I’m not here to dunk on canned peas, because I really do think there’s a time and place for them. Like if AI eventually revolts, shuts down the power grid, and launches a few nuclear missiles, we’re all going to be so grateful for canned peas! In the meantime, I think they’re really good in mac and cheese.
Okay, we’ve established that you can’t really judge canned peas by the same standards you’d judge fresh or frozen—so what were we looking for when we sat down at the tasting table to ten-plus cans of peas? I was looking for canned peas that approximate the earthy sweetness of fresh peas, as well as peas that really lean in to being canned peas. No one is ever going to mistake Le Sueur baby peas for peas from the farmers’ market, but those slippery little suckers sure are good in their own canned-pea way. Even if they don’t taste like fresh peas, these are the best canned peas—Green Giant didn’t make the cut.
- Great Value Sweet Peas
These Walmart canned peas actually have a nice earthy flavor and a good bite. And they aren’t as salty as some of the other brands. In terms of flavor, these taste almost exactly like split pea soup to me. They’re firmer than a lot of the other brands. We were impressed with a lot of store brand peas and thought the brand names were a letdown. You can save money on the best canned peas if you buy generic.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Sprouts Sweet Peas No Salt Added
These are substantial and meaty. They’re really fresh tasting (well, not like fresh peas, but like fresh canned peas). If you want canned peas to dump on a cold salad, these would be good. They have a good texture. And they’re a really perfect pea size—not too big and not too small.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Signature Select Sweet Peas
These are the sweetest peas we tried but it works—and it’s not because they’re sweetened. According to the label, they have as much sugar and added sugar as most of the other varieties. It’s like they actually sourced good sweet peas. These would be good in something with a similarly sweet flavor, like macaroni salad.
- Le Sueur Very Young Small Sweet Peas
I love Le Sueur peas. I was raised to believe these were a fancy food and I still think of them as the caviar of canned peas—feel free to use that, Le Sueur. These are my favorite to mix into shells and cheese (I’ve been eating a lot of Goodles Shella Good lately). The peas nestle into the conchiglie and burst when you bite them. They’re small and salty and have that distinct canned pea flavor that I imagine is nostalgic for a lot of people.
Credit: Merc / Instacart
- Kroger Garden Variety Sweet Peas
This isn’t going to sound like a ringing endorsement, but these Kroger canned peas have the most neutral flavor while still tasting like something, and that’s what made them the best canned peas we tasted (yes, even better than Le Sueur). They have some bite, but they’re also tender without disintegrating in your mouth. They are relatively salty, but they have a nice sweetness on the finish. These are better than Del Monte (which were too weird and canny tasting) and Green Giant (also canny tasting). Don’t get confused and buy the Kroger brand Small Sweet Peas—they taste very bad!
Credit: Merc / Ralphs
Best No Salt Added
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Del Monte Very Young Small Peas, Kroger Small Sweet Peas, Green Giant Sweet Peas, Signature Select Small, 365 No Salt Added, Green Valley Organic Sweet Peas