Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: 3 Differences & When to Cook with Each

Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: 3 Differences & When to Cook with Each

Peas have excellent nutritional value and distinct flavor. They are the type of vegetable that many people enjoy, including kids. Peas are high in protein and carry antioxidants. These benefits make them worth adding to your diet. While there are different types of peas, this article will explore the differences between snow peas and snap peas. 

Health Benefits of Snow and Snap Peas

Snow peas and snap peas are close in their nutritional benefits. They are rich in Vitamin C, Fiber, and Vitamins A and K. Peas can help heart health and lower blood pressure. Additionally, peas are a great source of iron and magnesium. 

Garden peas are a very starchy vegetable. On the other hand, snap peas and snow peas are less starchy than their cousin. Therefore, they have fewer carbohydrates. Since both peas have lower carbohydrates and calories, they are an excellent vegetable addition to your plate! 

Snow Peas vs. Snap Peas: Main Differences

Both of these peas are very similar to one another. Did you know that a pea isn't technically a vegetable? It's actually in the legume family. This accounts for their appearance. Although these two types of peas are similar in a few ways, they have fundamental differences that set them apart. 

Snow Peas and Snap Peas Vary in Appearance

One of the main differences between snow peas and snap peas is their appearance. Snow peas are flat. Additionally, they have petite peas that are not fully ripe in their shell. 

A sugar snap pea, on the other hand, is fuller in appearance. Their shells are thick, and the peas inside of the pods are big and round. 

Difference in Flavor 

Snow peas are crisp and tender. They have a crunch to them that many enjoy. However, they are not very sweet. Therefore, if you are looking for a sweet pea to eat, opt for the sugar snap pea. This type of pea is full of flavor and sweetness.

Sugar snap peas isolated on white background
Snap peas are a cross between the snow peas and the garden peas. They are sweet with plump peas.

©Tiger Images/Shutterstock.com

Snow Peas and Snap Peas Difference in Their Start

Snow peas have been around for quite a long time. It is believed that they initially came from Southwest Asia. Harvesting this pea takes place before they fully ripen. Additionally, harvesting snow peas can happen at any time of the year. Many believe this type of pea is called a snow pea because this plant can withstand a few frosts and still thrive. 

Sugar snap peas, however, came on the scene in the 1970s. This pea is the result of crossing the snow and garden pea. 

Garden peas are popular because they are very sweet. However, they can be challenging to shell. The sugar snap pea carries a similar sweetness as the garden pea, yet it is easier to shell. 

Both of these peas have a string that must be removed before cooking. While these strings are edible, they do not taste great and can make the peas less pleasant to eat. 

When Should You Cook With Snow Peas and Snap Peas?

When it comes to cooking with peas, it can take time to decide which one to go with. First, you must determine what flavor you want added to your dish. Snow peas have an excellent crunch and mild flavor. They are very versatile and are great in any dish. One of the reasons is because they take less time to cook!

Additionally, snow peas make a great snack to eat raw. More cooking methods include a sautee, steaming, or a stir-fry dish. Snow peas are usually harvested before they are ripe, which is one reason they have such a flat appearance. 

Sugar snap peas have more flavor than snow peas and a dense, crunchy outer pod. They also cook well and very quickly. How you cook with sugar snap peas is entirely up to you. They are delicious as a side dish or in a stir-fry. It is possible to find stringless sugar snap peas in the grocery store. However, if you visit your local farmers market or buy snap peas with attached strings, be sure to string them before cooking!

Snow peas isolated on white background
Snow peas are flat in appearance, with premature peas inside of them.

©JIANG HONGYAN/Shutterstock.com

One Finale Note

Peas can be a great source of vitamins and are also tasty! Whether or not you choose to eat a sugar snap pea or a snow pea is entirely dependent upon your preference. Both peas can cook quickly and are great in salads, stir-fries, or even raw! However, they also make excellent side dishes and can add flavor to any dish. Sugar snap peas are higher in flavor and tend to be sweeter than snow peas. They are also fuller in appearance and are relatively newer on the scene. Regardless, either of these peas is an excellent addition to your next meal! 

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