What’s the difference between snow peas vs snap peas?

When it comes to fresh vegetables, we can all agree that nothing quite compares to the flavor and nutrition of garden-fresh green peas! With a sweet and juicy crunch, tender peas can make a salad special or a stir fry spectacular, but which variety is best to use?

Snow peas and snap peas on the counter

Types of Peas

Whether it’s your regular garden variety English shelling peas or the more exotic snow peas, there are varieties within varieties to choose from.

Why does it matter? Because different varieties of peas cook (and taste) differently.  There is a flavor and texture difference in the pods.

Snow Peas

Snow peas have deliciously crisp, flat pods that are edible. They do not need to be shelled, the entire pea is consumed, pod and all.

They do have small peas inside, but the main attraction is the crunchy and tender sweet shell. They are sometimes called Chinese peas or pea pods and they’re commonly seen in stir-fries and salads. We also add them to Pasta Primavera and they make a great side dish with mushrooms!

They’re also delicious eaten raw with Easy Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt Cucumber Dip). Remove the tough stem that is usually left at the tip of the pod and pull off the string to prepare them.

top view of peas to show Snow Peas vs Snap Peas


Snap Peas

Many vegetable lovers favor sugar snap peas for snacking and dipping.

Much like snow peas above, the entire pea is edible, pod and all. These peas are a bit thicker than snow peas and they’re sweeter and juicier. They can be eaten cooked or raw and do not need to be shelled. If buying stringless snap peas, you will not need to remove the string along the side.

For special dishes such as Sesame Ginger Snap Peas or Roasted Snap Peas, be sure not to over-cook them as their main attraction is their irresistible crunch! If eaten raw, try them in Asian Chopped Salad or tasty Asian Noodle Salad.

Garden Peas

Garden peas are eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or added to stews, soups, and salads. These are the peas that are frequently purchased in frozen form at the market.

When growing peas in the garden, there are several varieties to choose from, including petite peas, which are tiny and sweet! But the important thing to remember is that the shells or pods or garden peas are tough and stringy, and not good for much except the compost pile! Try some in this decadent Bacon & Pea Salad or Dill & Butter Peas!

Sometimes they are even processed and dried, then turned into “green split peas” which make a tasty Instant Pot Split Pea Soup! Always a special favorite at the holidays, Creamed Peas is a dish is made with English shelling peas.

close up of peas to show Snow Peas vs Snap Peas with writing
close up of peas to show the difference between Snow Peas vs Snap Peas
close up of Snow Peas vs Snap Peas with writing
close up of peas with a title to show Snow Peas vs Snap Peas


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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