Looking for a 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Christmas potluck dish? Look no further than this English Pea Salad with Bacon!
Southern English Pea Salad Recipe
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!
This 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 Secrets post, green pea salad, tomato mozzarella salad, Nancy’s Southern Grape Salad, and the 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. But this doesn’t mean it’s straight up healthy — it contains bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise, after all.
English Pea Salad Ingredients
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
- Apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Red onion
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.
How to Make Pea Salad
This easy potluck dish takes just 15 minutes to prep and can be served immediately. Here’s how to make pea salad in no time:
- In a large bowl, mix up a little mayo, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Add in peas, chopped cheese, chopped red onion, and hard-boiled eggs if you choose.
- 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 pea salad with bacon, so take that into account before making this recipe.
Can you Prepare Pea 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 green pea salad recipe in advance:
- 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.
- Cook and chop the bacon and store in a bag in the fridge.
- Cook, cool, and chop the eggs and store in the fridge.
- Chop the cheese and, you guessed it, back in the fridge.
- Ditto with the onion.
- 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.
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.
Can You Freeze Pea Salad?
You cannot freeze pea 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 Southern English Pea Salad. It’s meant to be a cold salad much like potato salad.
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.
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 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? Southern English pea salad tastes best with only slightly defrosted, never cooked frozen 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.
More Side Salad RECIPES:
- Easy Pea Pasta Salad
- Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad
- California Club Pasta Salad
- Dill Pea and Cucumber Salad
- Grilled Corn Avocado Tomato Salad
- Lemon Mandarin Orange Jello Salad
- Mexican Grilled Mexican Corn Salad
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Southern English Pea Salad
- 6 Slices Bacon
- 16 ounces Peas, Frozen
- 1 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 1/3 Cup Red Onion, Chopped
- 1 Cup Colby Jack Cheese, Chopped
- 2 Hard Boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
- In a skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp, turning once to cook on both sides.
- 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 a pinch of salt.
- Add the partially defrosted peas, red onion, eggs if desired, cheese and stir to combine.
- Add the bacon and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately.