Craving a delicious springtime salad that’s easy to make and bursting with flavor? Look no further than this fantastic pea salad recipe made with sweet peas, crispy bacon, and a creamy dressing.
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This easy pea salad is my go-to side dish for picnics, special occasions, or barbecues. It’s the perfect fresh and flavorful vegetable recipe that can be prepared in advance. What’s not to love about sweet peas, bacon, and cheddar cheese tossed in a creamy dressing?
If fresh peas are in season, especially during the springtime, add them in! However, to make this recipe year around, grab a bag of frozen peas. They come pre-cooked, so just quickly defrost them and add the other delicious ingredients. This refreshing salad is excellent to pair with grilled chicken or salmon or for brunch with quiche or savory crepes.
- Peas: For convenience, use frozen sweet peas. Defrost them in cold water or the microwave using the defrost setting. Fresh peas can be used but should be cooked before adding them to the salad.
- Bacon: They add a smokey and savory taste.
- Cheese: Use medium or sharp cheddar cheese. Cut them into ¼ inch cubes, or use shredded cheese as a quick substitute.
- Onion: Use finely diced red onions or shallots for a more garlicky taste.
- Creamy Sauce: A combination of sour cream, mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Cook the bacon
I use regular strips of bacon for the recipe. Cook them on the stovetop until crispy. It takes about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Alternatively, you can cook a larger tray of bacon in the oven. Drain and let them cool down, then chop them into smaller bits. Bacon bits are a good substitute if you’re short on time; you’ll need ¾ cups.
Make the dressing
What makes this green pea salad such a hit is the creamy dressing. It’s made with six simple ingredients; sour cream, mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. That’s it! It adds a velvety and rich coating that clings to the surface of the ingredients.
Assemble the salad
Once the dressing is prepared, it’s time to dress the salad. Toss the defrosted peas, chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, diced red onion, and creamy dressing in a large serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or let it chill to let the flavors meld together before enjoying.
What’s great is you can make this salad several days ahead to save on prep time the day of serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days. It tastes even better the next day!
- Add chopped boiled eggs for extra creaminess and protein.
- Add diced ham, turkey, or chicken instead of bacon.
- Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream.
- Stir in some ranch dressing for an herbaceous flavor.
- Add fresh herbs like dill, tarragon, chives, or green onions.
- Use other types of vinegar like distilled white, white wine, red wine, or rice vinegar.
- Baked salmon
- Grilled chicken breast or thighs
- Quiche Lorraine or crustless broccoli quiche
- Mushroom crepes
Frequently asked questions
Frozen peas are the best option for taste and texture when fresh ones are unavailable. They have already been blanched, so no additional cooking is required—defrost before using.
Canned peas are a quick substitute for frozen or fresh. Drain the peas well before using them. They do not need to be cooked. They will have a duller green color and a softer texture from the canning process.
Yes! The salad ingredients hold up well when premade. Cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. It tastes delicious, served chilled.
Should I blanch fresh peas before adding them to the salad?
The sweet taste of fresh peas will add a lovely flavor to the salad when in season. Young fresh peas that have been shelled have a snappy texture. You can eat them raw in the pea salad. Tougher vegetables, or if you prefer a softer texture, can be blanched first. Cook the peas in boiling water for a few minutes until crisp and tender. Chill in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain well, then add them to the salad.
Cream Pea Salad with Bacon
- 4 cups frozen peas
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, ¼" cubes
- ⅓ cup diced red onion, ⅛" dice
- ½ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey, or sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Defrost the Peas – Thaw the peas either in the microwave or submerged in cool water. Drain the well, shaking off any excess moisture.
- Cook the Bacon – Add half of the bacon slices to a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook until crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Repeat with the remaining slices. Finely chop into smaller pieces.
- Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble – In a large bowl, add the defrosted peas, chopped bacon, cheese, and onions. Drizzle with the dressing, and toss to evenly coat—season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To Serve – Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Recipe Yield: About 4 ½ cups
- Dressing Yield: About ¾ cup
- Serving Size: About ½ cup
- Using Cooked Bacon: Add ¾ cup of cooked chopped bacon.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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