Easy English Pea Salad Recipe

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At your next potluck or barbecue, bring this creamy English pea salad and watch everyone’s eyes light up! It’s a tried-and-true recipe that’s easy and delicious for group gatherings!

how to make english pea salad.

To make it easy, this classic pea salad uses frozen peas thawed in the fridge. They’re tossed in a creamy dressing with a bunch of delicious fillings like bacon bits, cheddar cheese, red onion, and more. It’s the perfect side dish to take to any summer barbecue or picnic!

If you love bringing food to parties that everyone will enjoy, check out my sour cream and chive dip. Be sure to make a double batch because there are always too many chips and not enough dip at potlucks and parties!


  • So easy: It doesn’t get much easier than a few minutes of prep, mixing up all the ingredients in a bowl, and serving…That’s it! And with only a few dishes and utensils, clean up is a breeze too!
  • Delicious & creamy: Made up of simple and delicious ingredients, the dressing is a creamy sauce that brings all the flavors together and highlights the great texture — gentle with a slight crunch.
  • Perfect for parties: This easy English pea salad is a welcome addition to the gatherings and outdoor parties we all look forward to during the summer months. Being a classic recipe, it’s right at home in a tabletop spread that everyone gets to enjoy.

What is English Pea Salad?

Although the name of this dish makes it sound like it’s from England, it’s a classic Southern dish! The “English” refers to the type of peas. English peas are tender sweet peas. Unlike snap peas or snow peas, they’re shelled before eating.

You might hear English pea salad called “southern pea salad,” “cold pea salad,” or even just plain and simple “pea salad.” These are all different names for the same simple side dish. Whatever you choose to call yours, this creamy English pea salad is sure to satisfy with its fresh flavors and tangy dressing.

It’s common to see this pea salad on the table next to potato salad and at every baby shower, potluck, barbecue, on your Easter menu, or at really any other event! Old fashioned pea salad is a classic for a reason, and you’re sure to love this classic Southern side dish.

Equipment

To make this delicious English pea salad, you need very few tools. There’s nothing fancy here!

  • Knife
  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Mixing spoon
ingredients to make english pea salad.

Ingredients

  • Peas: Thawed frozen peas are the main ingredient in this classic salad! Avoid canned peas as they are dull in color and mushy. 
  • Mayo: There’s a good reason mayo is the base of so many dressings – it brings rich flavor and a smooth texture to whatever you combine it with.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream makes up the other half of our rich, smooth dressing. I recommend a good quality, full fat sour cream to get the most flavorful results!
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: With the freshness of all the green peas, cubes of cheese add to this dish’s savory side.
  • Red onion: The red onion flavor adds to the savoriness of this delicious pea salad. Not to mention the color it adds too!
  • Bacon: Little bits of bacon add bursts of salty, savory flavor throughout the pea salad.
  • Sugar (optional): Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of sugar to taste! You can also use honey or maple syrup.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: Season after you’ve combined all your ingredients to make sure you use just the right amount.
  • Lemon juice: A splash of lemon brightens everything up! Feel free to add the lemon zest, too, for extra flavor.

How to Make English Pea Salad

  1. Thaw frozen peas in the fridge overnight. Prepare the bacon and prep the red onion and cheddar cheese for quick assembly.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add all of your ingredients together. 
  3. Gently stir to mix all of the ingredients together.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Serve immediately or cover the bowl with a lid and let it chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld.
step by step instructions for how to make english pea salad.

Storing

To store in the fridge: Place any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’re storing the salad in a bowl, you can cover it with plastic wrap or a large dinner plate. It actually tastes better the next day once the flavors meld together so you can make it before your party, too.

To store in the freezer: English pea salad is best eaten fresh. If you freeze this dish after you mix all the ingredients, it will likely become mushy and soggy. Not fun!

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this hearty side dish in a decorative large bowl or wooden salad bowl to really nail the final presentation.
  • Pair with pretty much all grilled meats like steaks, burgers, chicken, or seafood.
  • Don’t have a summer bbq or potluck lined up this year? This classic creamy pea salad would be great at an easter dinner or church picnic as well!

Tips & Variations

  • To minimize the bite of red onion, slice your onion in half and place it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.
  • I usually prefer to mix the sour cream and mayo together with the salt and lemon juice before adding the peas, but you don’t have to!
  • Including some chopped fresh dill or basil would be a great addition to spruce up this delicious salad.
  • For a diet-friendly, lower-fat variation, Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream.
  • In a pinch? Use shredded cheese to reduce prep time even further!
  • Forget to thaw peas overnight? Run them under some cold water for a minute or two and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Add more veggies, if you’d like, like diced bell pepper, green onion, etc. Make this green pea salad recipe your own!
  • If you prefer a sweetened pea salad, add a little sugar to taste.
  • Feel free to substitute apple cider vinegar for lemon juice. 
closeup of a spoon with classic pea salad with bacon and cheddar.

FAQs

Do you cook the peas for pea salad?

If fresh English peas are in season and you’re lucky enough to have some on hand, prepare them by cooking in boiling water until al dente. In most cases, frozen peas will be the best year-round choice.

You don’t need to cook frozen peas as frozen peas are blanched before freezing. Once thawed in the fridge for a couple of hours, they are bright green, firm yet tender, and ready to eat. Since fresh peas are still raw, they’ll need to be gently cooked before eating.

Where did pea salad originate?

Unlike the name might lead you to believe, English pea salad originates from the Southern United States. Calling it Southern English pea salad can be a mouthful, so the name often gets shortened in a number of ways.

But it’s a known fact that during the summer season, English peas grow plentiful in the south, and this easy recipe was created to give fresh garden peas a dish to shine in. 

What goes in English pea salad?

English pea salad is made with sweet English peas, sharp cheddar cheese, red onion, bacon, and a simple creamy dressing.

You may also commonly find recipes that include diced hard-boiled eggs, and that is a delicious addition too! Pea salad is very adaptable to meet people’s preferences and diet restrictions.

white bowl full of english pea salad.

Related Recipes

Excited about barbecue and picnic season? Here are some other summer recipes that are sure to delight your friends and family:

pin for english pea salad recipe.

English Pea Salad

Whether you're a big fan of peas or not, this classic English pea salad is the perfect cool side dish for your BBQ!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine southern
Servings 8 servings
Calories 225 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 large spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 3 12 oz bags frozen peas, thawed; approximately 4.5 cups
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbs lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup bacon pieces
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, diced or shredded
  • 1 tbs sugar, optional
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Thaw frozen peas in the fridge overnight. Prepare the bacon and prep the red onion and cheddar cheese for quick assembly.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, add all of your ingredients together.
  • Gently stir to mix all of the ingredients together.
  • Season to taste.
  • Serve immediately or cover the bowl with a lid and let it chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld.

Notes

  • To minimize the bite of red onion, slice your onion in half and place it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.
  • I usually prefer to mix the sour cream and mayo together with the salt and lemon juice before adding the peas, but you don’t have to!
  • Including some chopped fresh dill or basil would be a great addition to spruce up this delicious salad.
  • For a diet-friendly, lower-fat variation, Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream.
  • In a pinch? Use shredded cheese to reduce prep time even further!
  • Forget to thaw peas overnight? Run them under some cold water for a minute or two and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Add more veggies, if you’d like, like diced bell pepper, green onion, etc. Make this green pea salad recipe your own!
  • If you prefer a sweetened pea salad, add a little sugar to taste.
  • Feel free to substitute apple cider vinegar for lemon juice. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 225kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 10gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 678mgPotassium: 137mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 167IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 1mg
Keyword classic pea salad, english pea salad, pea salad, southern pea salad
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