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Southern English Pea Salad Recipe (So Creamy!)

This Southern English pea salad is a refreshing and delicious side dish, perfect for any gathering. Made with peas, bacon, herbs, and a creamy dressing, it’s sure to be a hit at your next potluck or holiday dinner.

It’s the perfect side dish for Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. I don’t know where English pea salad originated from, or why it’s so dang good considering it’s the world’s shortest list of ingredients, but I do know that any time someone shares a photo of a Southern Potluck or church spread, there’s that pea salad!

Last Fourth of July, we had Cade’s mom, brother, and his family and a friend over for a fun day of swimming and eating. Yes, I did wear a red bathing suit. Yes, I did get mistaken for the lifeguard 100 times. I have had the worst time trying to find a bathing suit that wasn’t cut crazy high or crazy low all year and this one I love, though I will watch where I wear it now. 

But back to the BBQ — we swam, the kids became exhausted, and we headed back to the house where we cooked up classic burgers thanks to our 2 hamburger secrets post, and a selection of our favorite summer salads including this green pea salad, our tomato mozzarella salad, and Nancy’s Southern Grape Salad. We finished the night off with our dreamiest Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting EVER.

Green pea salad is considered to be low-carb, gluten-free, and a slightly healthier option to pasta salad (though we have a pasta version of this recipe too if you prefer). But this doesn’t mean it’s straight up healthy — it contains bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise, after all.

a metal bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese

What Ingredients Do I Need for This Salad Recipe?

Although English pea salad has a few different names, it’s all the exact same thing — cold pea salad. You may hear it called pea salad, English Pea Salad, Southern Pea Salad, Green Pea Salad, or, as we’ve called it, Southern English Pea Salad.

Here’s what goes into this easy potluck side dish recipe: 

  • Frozen Peas
  • Mayonnaise
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Red Onion
  • Bacon
  • Cheese (Colby Jack or Cheddar Cheese is our favorite)

Some recipes also call for hard-boiled eggs, which we left out this time as I’m really enjoying it as a straight up pea salad lately. I’ve added it into the recipe as optional in case you want to add it, though.

For the exact measurements of each ingredient, keep scrolling to the recipe card at the end of the post.

a wooden bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese and a metal spoon sitting on the side

How to Make This Salad with Peas

This easy potluck dish takes just 15 minutes to prep and can be served immediately. Here’s how to make this salad recipe in no time: 

  1. In a large bowl, mix up a little mayo, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. 
  2. Add in peas, cheese cubes, chopped red onion, and hard-boiled eggs if you choose. 
  3. Gently fold everything together, then add the crumbled bacon, giving it one last fold to incorporate.

So simple, right? Keep in mind that you’ll need to slightly defrost the frozen peas before making this salad with bacon, so take that into account before making this recipe. 

Can You Prepare This Salad Ahead of Time?

English pea salad can be prepared — but not assembled — ahead of time. No one wants soggy bacon or cheese! 

Here’s how to prep this side dish recipe in advance: 

  1. Leave the peas in the freezer until an hour before assembly. Or even up to 3 hours before you can move them to the fridge.
  2. Cook and chop the bacon and store in a bag in the fridge.
  3. Cook, cool, and chop the eggs and store in the fridge.
  4. Chop the cheese and, you guessed it, back in the fridge.
  5. Ditto with the onion.
  6. Mix the dressing and store in the large mixing bowl with saran wrap over it in the fridge.

When you’re ready, just toss everything together and serve immediately. If you must mix it ahead of time, still leave the bacon until you’re ready to serve.

a wooden bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese

How Long Does Pea Salad Last?

Because the mayonnaise breaks down the bacon and cheese we don’t much enjoy pea salad more than a day or two later, and it must be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Pea Salad?

You cannot freeze this salad no matter how badly you want to keep it. The mayonnaise separates and the ingredients become tender and yucky from the freezer.

Do You Cook Frozen Peas for Pea Salad?

No, please don’t ever cook your peas for this salad. It’s meant to be a cold salad much like potato salad.

a wooden bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese

Can I Omit the Bacon in This Pea Salad? 

Yes, if you’ll be serving vegetarians or simply prefer not to eat it, you’re welcome to omit the bacon. You could also serve the crumbled bacon on the side and let guests help themselves if they want to eat this pea salad with bacon. The flavor and texture of the bacon in this salad really sends it over the top for me!

Is There a Mayonnaise Substitute I Can Use? 

Not that I’m aware of! Real mayo is a must for us in this recipe. However, you could always experiment with using part plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and part real mayo, or use all Miracle Whip. If you try a different variation of this recipe and like the results, please let us know in a comment below! 

Tips for Making English Pea Salad

There’s a BIG FAT SECRET to making English pea salad. Do you know what it is? It tastes best with only slightly defrosted, never cooked frozen sweet peas. That’s right, grab your bag of peas and throw them into the fridge to defrost them a little, and when you pour them into the bowl you should hear them falling and they should have a small crunch to them as they are still a little frozen.

Also, when chopping the red onion we prefer to dice it into small bits and not slices as that’s more cumbersome to eat. Plus, crunching down on a huge bite of raw red onion makes my eyes water. 

If you’re not a huge fan of raw onion, try running it under cold tap water for a few seconds to remove its bite. Remember to pat it dry before tossing it in the English pea salad. 

a wooden bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese

Indulge in the fresh and vibrant flavors of the South with this delicious English pea salad recipe. Perfect as a side dish or a light lunch!

More Side Salad RECIPES:

Servings: 8 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


Looking for an Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas potluck dish? Look no further than this English Pea Salad with Bacon! 

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In a skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp, turning once to cook on both sides.

    6 Slices Bacon

  • Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

  • Once cool, chop the bacon into small pieces.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and salt and pepper.

    1 Cup Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt and Pepper

  • Add the partially defrosted peas, red onion, eggs if desired, cheese and stir to combine.

    16 Ounces Peas, 1/3 Cup Red Onion, 2 Hard Boiled eggs, 1 Cup Colby Jack Cheese

  • Add the bacon and season with salt and pepper if needed.

  • Serve immediately.

May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 269kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 11gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 459mgPotassium: 227mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 689IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 1mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: America’s Best 4th of July Desserts, Recipes and Sides

Cuisine: American

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a wooden bowl full of creamy southern english pea salad with bacon, chunks of colby jack cheese

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