Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: What's the Difference? (2024)

Snow peas are one of the first signs of spring. These peas grow early in the season and can start to appear even when the snow is still around. Freshly picked snow peas and snap peas typically show up at spring farmer’s markets by late March or early April. When shopping, always look for freshly picked peas, because the longer they are on the plant before they are picked, the tougher they will be in texture.

10 Fresh, Fun Ways to Use Spring Peas

Snow and snap peas make great additions to various salads, stir-fried dishes, or served on their own as a vibrant veggie side. Both snow and snap peas have edible pods that can be eaten whole in dishes. They are similar in their green color and size, but there are subtle differences between the taste and texture of these two pea varieties.

What Are Snow Peas?

The snow pea has a thin, flat pod that is edible. It can be eaten as a whole when it is still in an unripened stage of growing.

Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods because they are often used in stir-fries. They are flat with a group of very small peas inside. The whole pod is edible, but the tough strings that run along the outside edge are usually removed before eating. Snow peas have a mild flavor and can be served either raw or cooked in dishes.

Snow peas are described as both crisp and tender, and don't require much time to cook. They can be served raw, sautéed, or steamed for preparation in dishes.

Snow peas are high in vitamin C, and are a good source of vitamins A and K as well as iron and magnesium. These peas are grown on a vine and harvested ten days after the white flower is pollinated.

How to Cook Snow Peas

One of the benefits of cooking with snow peas is they can be cooked very quickly. Be sure to trim off the tough stems of snow peas when preparing them. The stem end will have a small cap on the end and may have a short stem attached. The end of the pod with a slight curl to it can be left intact and is a helpful grip when you remove the string from the pod.

You only need to boil snow peas for 30-60 seconds. Add your snow peas to a saucepan of boiling water and cook for approximately one minute and then drain. The peas can then be placed in a mesh strainer and drained under cold running water to cool.

Use snow peas in recipes like Thai Chicken Spring Rolls, a Sesame Vegetable Stir Fry, or a side dish of Mediterranean Snow Peas.

What Are Snap Peas?

The snap pea, or sugar snap pea, has a rounded pod with a thick wall — in contrast to snow peas, which have pods with thin walls and are flat in appearance. Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and sweet flavor.

They are often eaten raw, either in salads or as a snack, as well as cooked in dishes. Snap peas naturally grow with strings at the seams of their pods, but some stringless varieties have recently been bred and introduced to consumers. These have become more widely available in markets and as a vegetable choice for the home garden.

These peas are a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese. They also contain antioxidants and other phytonutrients that can offer health benefits.

How to Cook Snap Peas

Snap peas can be steamed or blanched in boiling water. You should trim the ends of the pods and cook them whole or slice in half for cooking.

Adding a pinch of sugar to the boiling water can help brighten their natural flavor. Drain the snap peas and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and help them retain their bright green color. If the peas are steamed, be sure to allow the peas to cool before serving.

Snap peas can liven up dinner in recipes such as Easy Sheet Pan Beef Bulgogi, a Chilled Sugar Snap Pea Soup, or Air-Fried Sesame-Crusted Cod with Snap Peas.

Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: What's the Difference? (2024)


Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: What's the Difference? ›

The pods of snow peas are flatter with small, premature peas, whereas sugar snap peas are more rounded. Both have an identical nutritional profile and very similar flavors although sugar snap peas tend to be sweeter and more flavorful. Look for snap peas in the freezer section or at local farmers markets.

What are the best peas to eat raw? ›

Sugar snap and snow peas can be enjoyed raw as a nutritious and healthy snack — simply remove their hard outer string. Both can also be added to stir-fries or salads for an extra boost of sweetness.

Can you eat the shell of snow peas? ›

Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods since they are often used in stir-fries. They are flat with very small peas inside; the whole pod is edible, although the tough “strings” along the edges are usually removed before eating.

What's better for stir-fry sugar snap peas or snow peas? ›

Cooking time: Both snow peas and snap peas are popular additions in stir-fry dishes. They may be sauteed in olive oil as a side dish to accompany meat or seafood or used as an alternative ingredient to green beans. However, snow peas are flatter than snap peas and as a result cook more quickly.

How to tell the difference between sugar snap peas and shelling peas? ›

Sugar snap peas, also simply called snap peas, are a cross between shelling (English) peas and snow peas. As with shelling peas, the seeds are allowed to plump up a bit. However, the pods are crisp and edible, so they do not need to be shelled and are used in recipes in the same way as snow peas.

Which peas can you not eat raw? ›

English peas, sometimes referred to as shelling or garden peas, are not poisonous. However eating English peas raw can cause certain problems for at-risk individuals. Fresh garden peas contain both lectins and phytic acid. Lectins can cause gas and bloating, while phytic acid interferes with the absorption of minerals.

Which peas is the healthiest? ›

Green peas are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. They are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, and magnesium. They are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, and manganese.

Are snow peas or snap peas healthier? ›

Both have an identical nutritional profile and very similar flavors although sugar snap peas tend to be sweeter and more flavorful.

Is it safe to eat raw snow peas? ›

Snow peas and sugar snaps are delicious both raw and cooked. Snow peas are common in Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine, and show up in all manner of stir fries and sides, but they are also delicious eaten on their own or blanched briefly and tossed into a salad.

Do you have to cook snow peas before eating? ›

Do snow peas need to be cooked? Snow peas can be eaten raw or cooked. However, blanching snow peas will reduce the fibrousness of the edges of snow peas, and boost sweetness and colour. Another good way to cook snow peas is to toss them with a little oil in a hot wok for 1-2 minutes or until tender-crisp.

What to do with too many snow peas? ›

Even though I've been tossing them in every dish and my boys love snacking on the right off the vines, my crisper drawer is maxed out. I love canning, but freezing is my go to for preserving these crunchy edible pod peas. It's easy to do!

Can dogs eat snow peas? ›

Yes, dogs can eat peas! Most varieties of green peas are fine including snow peas, sugar snap peas, garden and English peas. They can make a great low-calorie snack in moderation, and many complete and balanced dog foods will add them in too.

Why are my snow peas tough? ›

Remove the “string.” The “string” of the pod makes the snow pea stiff and tough, and removing it allows the snow peas to become more tender.

Which peas are the sweetest? ›

Snap Peas. Snap peas have fat, juicy and sweet edible pods. Some of these varieties are so sweet they're like candy! If you're looking for an addictive, healthy snack straight out of the garden, this is the type to grow.

What are the best tasting snow peas? ›

The best tasting snow pea was Avalanche, which was delicious even when eaten raw. We didn't end up coo ing the snow peas so they may ran differently in taste once coo ed. For more comparative information, see the data tables at the end of this report. of large pods with up to nine peas per pod (hence the name).

What is the white mold on my sugar snap peas? ›

Powdery mildew on peas. Symptoms of powdery mildew begin with white powdery spots that occur first on the upper surface of the oldest leaves and stipules and then on stems and pods. Warm dry weather accompanied by cool nights with dews is conducive to the spread of this disease.

Is eating raw peas good for you? ›

May support heart health

Peas contain heart-friendly minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium and are also rich in antioxidant nutrients, like vitamin C, as well as phytonutrients including carotenoids and flavanols which are heart protective and support cardiovascular function.

Which peas are not edible? ›

Garden or English Peas

The pods of garden peas are not edible.

Are sugar snap peas better raw or cooked? ›

Snap peas are best eaten raw or briefly cooked, such as in stir-fries or quick sautes. For a simple side dish, steam or blanch snap peas, then season with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper. Although stringless varieties are available, most sugar snap peas need to have the stringy seams removed before eating.

What are the sweetest tasting peas? ›

The Spring Pea is the sweetest pea pod you can grow in the garden! This variety is a very early maturing medium sized pea plant that produces super sweet peas.

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