A small white bowl of green pea salad sits on a light pink counter with fresh green parsley nearby.

No matter the weather, green pea salad is always a hit! You can serve it at summer potlucks or winter holiday parties and you’ll get the same enthusiastic reception. The sweet peas, tangy sauce, and crunchy bacon make this old-fashioned pea salad a delicious and easy addition to a variety of meals. The best part is you can make this salad ahead of time and stick it in the fridge, so it’s ready to go when you are!

Creamy potluck salad in a white serving bowl on a pink counter with a pink kitchen linen underneath.

What is pea salad?

Pea salad combines creamy dressing, fresh peas, salty bacon, and yummy cheese. It’s one of those Southern classics like pasta salads and potato salads served cold at various get-togethers. It comes together in 15 minutes and is a great make-ahead side dish for celebrations when you have plenty of dishes to prepare.

What do you put in a pea salad?

The ingredient list for creamy pea salad is refreshingly short—but delicious. There are two main parts to this salad, and both are simple.

To make the dressing, you’ll need:

  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sugar

To make the salad, you’ll need:

  • Frozen green peas
  • Cheddar cheese cubes
  • Cooked bacon
  • Red onion
  • Some parsley for a garnish

Wholefully Protip

The basic recipe for green pea salad with bacon is super simple, but feel free to mix it up a bit if you’re feeling adventurous! Try adding hard-boiled eggs or some leftover ham. You can also add your favorite fresh herbs for a flavor change or some cayenne pepper for a hint of spice. Prefer a vegetarian version? Cut out the bacon!

Creamy peas, bacon, and cheese cubes in a single-serving bowl of this refreshing side dish.

How do I make green pea salad?

This pea salad recipe is so simple that there are only two steps.

  1. Stir the salt and pepper, mayo, sour cream, sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl to make the dressing.
  2. Add the diced onion, chopped bacon, cubed cheese, and half-thawed peas. Toss to coat and place covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

How do you thaw frozen peas for salad?

The best way to thaw the peas for this classic pea salad is to take them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter while you prepare the dressing and the other ingredients. This is just enough time for the peas to become half-thawed. Be careful that the peas don’t thaw too much, and whatever you do, don’t defrost them in the microwave! They’ll become overly mushy and change the texture of the salad.

Wholefully Protip

If it’s the summer and you have garden-fresh peas, you can use them in this recipe instead of frozen peas. Steam and let them cool in the fridge before adding them to the salad.

Can  I use canned peas?

I wouldn’t recommend using canned peas because they’re too mushy. You want nice, firm peas that will give you a fresh crunch when you bite down on them, which is why frozen peas work so well!

Overhead of a large white bowl of green pea salad with bacon garnished with fresh parsley.

How do I make this salad dairy-free?

Despite the dairy-loaded dressing, you can make this pea salad dairy free. All you need to do is swap out the sour cream, cheese, and mayonnaise for your favorite dairy-free alternatives.

Can you make this salad a day ahead?

Yes! This is the perfect salad for advanced prep because it needs to be served chilled anyway. Although it only takes a few minutes of prep work, you can clear some time from your schedule by making this salad, storing it in an airtight container, and chilling it in the fridge for up to three days.

A fork holds up a bite of green pea salad on a light pink background.

How long is pea salad good for?

Pea salad needs to be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Any leftovers will be good for up to three days when stored this way.

Wholefully Protip

When bringing this salad to a get-together outside your home, keep it in an insulated container or serve it in a dish on a bed of ice. This keeps the salad chilled to the perfect serving temperature and keeps the dairy-based dressing cool and safe to eat.

Can you freeze pea salad?

Nope. If you froze this salad, the peas would become mushy, and the dressing would separate. It’s much better to store it in the fridge for up to three days and make more green pea salad the next time you want some!

A small white bowl of green pea salad sits on a light pink counter with fresh green parsley nearby.

Green Pea Salad with Bacon

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This easy, tangy pea salad is always a hit at holidays and cookouts. Peas, bacon, and cheddar are tossed with a creamy dressing to make this delicious side.


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 10-ounce bags of frozen peas (about 4-6 cups) - thawed halfway
  • 1 cup cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • Optional: fresh parsley for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until well combined.
  2. Add the green peas, cheese, and red onion and toss in the prepared dressing until well combined.
  3. Top with chopped fresh parsley if desired and serve salad chilled.


  • Make this recipe dairy-free by substituting the mayo, sour cream, and cheese with your favorite dairy alternative.
  • Fun add-ins for this salad include: hard boiled eggs, fresh herbs, a pinch of paprika or cayenne for some spice!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 337mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


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