Pea Salad

5 from 2 votes
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This cool and creamy pea salad is an easy side dish packed with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar morsels, and red onions tossed with a fresh and tangy sour cream dressing. 

Pea salad in a white bowl.

 

If you’re looking for a versatile, easy side dish idea that’s affordable and full of flavor, a creamy pea salad hits the jackpot! This pea salad recipe with bacon and cheddar is packed with a blend of sweet, tangy, salty, crispy ingredients, tossed in the silkiest sour cream dressing. It takes minutes to prepare before it’s ready for the fridge, and you can make it ahead for all of your upcoming occasions. 

Why You’ll Love This Creamy Pea Salad Recipe

  • Refreshing. There’s loads of contrast between the sweetness of the green peas with salty bacon, crisp onions, and tangy dressing. The mild, creamy flavors go well with loads of dishes.
  • Easy to make. The salad and dressing come together in minutes. Afterward, simply chill the finished pea salad in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
  • Versatile. This creamy pea salad is such a crowd-pleasing side dish. Make it ahead to bring along to cookouts, potlucks, or your next family get-together. It’s even delicious as a holiday side!
Ingredients for pea salad.

Salad Ingredients

Here are some quick notes and tips on the ingredients you’ll need to make this easy pea salad recipe. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card to see the full ingredients list, amounts, and instructions.

  • Bacon – You’ll need about 4 strips of bacon, or to taste. Diced smoked ham is also a good alternative.
  • Peas – I use frozen peas for convenience but feel free to use fresh peas if you get your hands on some.
  • Cheese – Sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (about the same size as the peas you’re using). You can also use a mild cheese, like provolone or mozzarella.
  • Onion – Red onion has a sweeter flavor, or you can make this recipe with yellow onion if that’s what you have on hand.

For the Dressing 

  • Sour Cream – This can be substituted with Greek yogurt if needed.
  • Mayo – There’s a bit of mayo in this recipe for flavor, but you can replace it with additional sour cream if you’d prefer.
  • Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Or, another type of vinegar, like red wine vinegar or white vinegar.
  • Salt and Pepper

How to Make Pea Salad

I love the simplicity of classic recipes like this pea salad and others, like a BLT pasta salad! The steps to make this side dish are super quick and perfect if you’re just starting out in the kitchen:

  • Cook the bacon. First, crisp up the bacon in a skillet and then dice it.
  • Make the dressing. Next, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  • Combine the salad ingredients. Combine the peas, cheddar chunks, onion, and chopped bacon in a separate bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss everything to coat.
  • Chill and serve. Pop your finished pea salad into the fridge to chill for an hour, and then serve!

Recipe Tips and Variations

You can’t go wrong with a creamy pea salad. Here are my last-minute tips for success:

  • Don’t defrost the peas completely. My secret is to leave the peas frozen while I mix them with the other ingredients. This keeps the peas fresh and crisp, and not mushy.
  • Chop the cheese small enough. You want your cheddar morsels to be about the same size as the peas so that they’re evenly distributed throughout the salad.
  • Double the recipe. If you’re catering to a larger group, get out a big bowl and double the recipe.
  • Make it festive. Serving this pea salad for the holidays? Sprinkle in a handful of dried cranberries for extra sweetness and a pop of ruby-red color.
  • Add pasta. Turn this green pea recipe into a pasta salad and stir in your choice of cooked short-cut pasta, like elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni, etc. Note that you may need to increase the amount of dressing to account for the added ingredient.
Overhead view of pea salad in a white bowl.

What to Serve With Pea Salad

The refreshing flavors in this creamy salad go well with just about any meal, at any time of the year. Serve it as a BBQ side dish in the summer months with smoked ribs and corn on the cob. At the holidays, this green pea salad makes an easy Thanksgiving or Christmas side next to cranberry sauce and sausage stuffing. I also love to bulk up a pea salad with sliced chicken breast or steak bites for a light lunch during the week.

Pea salad in a white bowl with a spoon.

Can I Make This Pea Salad Ahead?

Yes, you can prepare this salad a day in advance. Simply leave off the dressing until you’re ready to serve it! Combine the cooked bacon, peas, and chopped onions in an airtight container to keep in the fridge. You can also prepare the dressing and refrigerate it separately. When ready, toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and chill as directed.

How to Store Leftovers

  • Fridge. This pea salad stays fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. Store the leftovers airtight and stir the salad before serving.
  • Freeze. I don’t recommend freezing pea salad due to the sour cream. Luckily, it’s quick and easy to whip up a fresh batch!

More Creamy Salad Recipes

Pea salad in a white bowl.
5 from 2 votes

Pea Salad

By Erin
Cool and creamy pea salad is an easy side dish packed with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar morsels, and red onions tossed in tangy sour cream dressing.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 12 oz frozen peas
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped red onion

Dressing

  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons mayo
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp over medium heat. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cooled, chop the bacon into pieces.
  • In a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large bowl, add peas, cheddar cheese, red onion, and bacon. Pour over the dressing and mix until everything is well coated.
  • Let stand in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  • Cut the cheese into small pieces, about the same size as the peas.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge for 3 days.
  • Double the recipe for a large group.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 388mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Erin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Salad Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 230
Keyword: green pea salad, pea salad, pea salad recipe
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About Erin S

Welcome to Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts where my love of food meets my busy life. My name is Erin and I’m a casual home cook who loves to feed people. On this blog, you’ll find hundreds of quick and easy recipes made mostly from scratch. My days are spent in the kitchen, creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

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5 Comments

  1. I love the creamy dressing with the other salad ingredients. The sweet peas and the bacon are a great combo!

  2. The Pea Salad was refreshing and flavorful! It was a vibrant, tasty side dish that paired well with everything.

  3. This Pea Salad was tasty and refreshing, with tender peas, a creamy dressing, and nice crunch from onions and bacon. A great side dish!