Vegetable pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp) breeding programmes have been successful in developing relatively photoperiod insensitive, dwarf cultivars that are high yielding as well as suitable for mechanical harvesting and year-round production. However, farmer adoption rate has been poor, mainly due to inferior pod and seed characteristics. A survey was conducted to determine the minimum pod and seed physical quality criteria that govern consumer acceptance in vegetable pigeonpea, using a novel approach. The preference of cultivars varied depending on whether the pods or seeds were presented to the consumer. The consumers preferred long (>8 cm), wide (>1.3 cm), pods with high numbers of seeds per pod (>5) and low levels of polyphenol content. There was evidence of compensation by consumers for weaknesses in one character when there was superiority in another character. With respect to seeds, hundred seed weight (HSW) was the only single criterion affecting consumer acceptance. It is recommended that high HSW (13 g) along with one or more of the other pod physical qualities is required for consumer acceptance, and an index selection approach is suggested for breeding for consumer acceptance.