What’s more Southern than boiled peanuts? Maybe collard greens? The owner of the Alabama Peanut Co., Jaime Thursby, couldn’t decide, so he combined the two to create possibly the most Southern snack ever: the collard green boiled peanut. The flavor was one of the first he came up with when he opened his Birmingham business in 2018. It’s now a seasonal option on a menu of seventy-five boiled peanut varieties, which rotate daily, as well as multiple roasted peanut flavors.
In the company’s extensive boiled peanut line-up, the treat’s beloved but pretty basic taste gets boosted with bold ingredients. Peppers pop and citrus sings in Jalapeno-Lime. The Wickles Pickles flavor permeates with the spicy-sour punch of the Alabama pickle makers’ signature product. The Old Bay PBR flavor conjures memories of shrimp boils past, washed down with cold beer. Pineapple Lava brings the sweet heat. And Southern Stank features such a festival of funk—garlic, horseradish, and sauerkraut plus a few secret stinky additions—that it comes with a warning. “It’s guaranteed to get your breath kickin’, so beware close contact!” Thursby says.
Jalapeno-Lime is Thursby’s current first choice, but Collard Green is a close second. “I love potlikker and realized it’s like a brine, so I thought, ‘How about trying to infuse that into a peanut?’” His first attempt was simple: Add goobers to a big mess of cooking greens. “It worked pretty well, but it took trial and error to get the recipe right so the flavors would really soak in.” That “right” recipe includes ham hocks (a vegan version is also available), apple cider vinegar, and Tabasco. And while the greens are supporting players, they’re still part of the package; they’re included with the peanuts. The flavor has been a turkey-day favorite in Birmingham ever since the pandemic shutdowns forced Alabama Peanut into delivery mode in 2020. “That Thanksgiving, we delivered platters of the collard green peanuts, and it took off.”
Thursby’s love of slow-simmered greens flipped the light switch on the collard idea, but location and activity inspire many others. “I’m usually thinking about how or where people will eat them, like tailgating, on a road trip, floating the day away at the lake; I try to envision the tastes that match those things,” he says. These musings have led to some inventive selections, but every batch is steeped in tradition too, thanks to the company’s home, a 1907 downtown building, formerly the site of a long-running peanut-roasting business. “We make our roasted peanuts in the original, now-antique roasters,” Thursby says. “I love that we’ve kept this place’s legacy going.”
Alabama Peanut Co. has started spreading the love, shipping its roasted nuts and buckets of boiled peanuts in select flavors, including Collard Green, nationwide. But if you’d rather make your own, Thursby shares the collard green recipe, plus some pro tips: “When it comes to spice and seasonings, more is more since it has to get through the shell,” he says. And patience is paramount. “You can’t rush boiled peanuts. Give them the time they need.” (In this case, the recipe calls for a seventeen- to nineteen-hour simmer.)