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Our Classic Pea Salad is a vintage recipe that has been around for generations. This cold salad features peas, cheddar, red onions, a sweet dressing, and did I mention, bacon? The best part is that it can be made in no time AND you can make it ahead of time. This classic side dish is perfect for any occasion or time of year.
One of my favorite things about potlucks during the Summer is all of the traditional recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Sure, sometimes cooks take liberties to change up this or that, but one thing is for sure if you grew up in the South or the Midwest, there was always at least one bowl of Pea Salad available to nosh on.
If you grew up in the Midwest, there was always at least one bowl of Pea Salad available to nosh on. Sure, cooks throughout the years changed up this or that to add their own touch, but you would still find that potluck favorite at every gathering.
Another favorite at potlucks is the classic Ham and Scalloped Potatoes. Not only was it a great way to use up leftover ham, but it also made a lot and went a long way at gatherings.
If you are looking for another idea for a cold salad, consider this Mexican Cabbage Salad.
- frozen peas – Compared to canned peas, frozen peas maintain their texture better. To use, take out of the freezer and leave to thaw before draining off any excess liquid for a salad.
- bacon – fry up some bacon and chop it into your own bits. Or you can buy store-bought bacon bits. Either way is fine.
- mayo - this provides the nice creamy texture of the salad.
See recipe card for quantities and additional ingredients.
You will find complete directions in the recipe card.
Add in the peas.
Next, add in the bacon, onions, two cheeses, and mayonnaise until everything is evenly mixed.
Add in the seasonings.
Mix everything together.
- mayo - you can use miracle whip instead.
- cubed cheese - feel free to use shredded cheese.
- dried dill - if you have fresh dill, definitely use that instead of dried.
- yogurt - you can use Greek yogurt instead.
- ham - you can use diced ham in lieu of the bacon. You will still get the salt flavoring from the pork.
- turkey bacon - this works as a great sub for regular bacon.
- diced red onion – as you know, red onions are a bit overpowering. Feel free to submit sweet Vandalia or yellow onions to tame the bite down.
- cheese – you don't have to use the best cheese out there for this. Basic cheddar works great.
- healthier version - substitute the regular bacon for turkey bacon. You can also use meatless bacon strips.
- Deluxe - kick it up a notch by topping the salad with either diced or sliced hard boiled eggs.
- ranch - if your crew isn't big fans of yogurt and sour cream, you can use ranch dressing in a bottle instead.
- Top with sliced green onions to create a nice pop of color.
Sharp knives and sturdy cutting boards are a must in any kitchen. Even though I have wooden cutting boards, I like the ones I can put into the dishwasher when I am cutting up meat, so they get sanitized.
You can store this cold salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Even though you can make this up ahead, freezing isn't recommended.
- To help tame the bite of the red onion, presoak the diced pieces in ice cold water for 20 - 30 minutes. Then make sure to completely dry them before adding them to the salad.
- Don't overheat the peas if you decide to defrost them in the microwave. It's best to let the peas thaw out ahead of time in the fridge. But you can always run them under cold water until they get defrosted. The key though if you use cold water is to let them drain out in a colander. You don't want excess water in the salad from the peas.
- So that the bacon doesn't get too soft, wait until you are ready to serve to add the bacon.
- This is a classic cookout side dish. In my experience, anytime anyone brought a cold salad to a potluck, it is usually devoured pretty quickly.
Yes, you do. Let it chill in the fridge before serving it. You can also make it up a few days ahead of time.
Yep, you can. Keep in mind though that the texture will be different, and they may not hold up like frozen ones do.
From at least 4800-4400 BC.
Nope, not at all. You can sub out turkey bacon or just leave the bacon off.
Classic Pea Salad 📋
- cutting board
- large bowl
- 32 ounces frozen peas defrosted
- 8 ounces chunk cheese cubed
- 3/4 cup chopped bacon or bacon bits
- 1 medium red onion sliced
- 1/3 cup real mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup regular sour cream lite is fine
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried dill fresh is fine
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Defrost the peas and set aside.
- If you are making your bacon fresh, make that now.
- Slice up the onion and cut the cheese into cubes. If you are going to use shredded cheese instead, you can shred it now.
- In a large bowl, add in the peas, then the onions, and then the cheese.
- Then add in the mayo, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, dill, salt, and pepper. Then add the bacon on top.
- Stir together until the peas are completely covered. Cover the bowl with either a lid, foil, or plastic wrap.
- Place in the fridge for up to 4 hours. Stir to mix everything up again then serve.
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