I’ve eaten a lot of questionable things standing over my kitchen sink at 9 a.m. Until this creamy Pea Salad entered my life, I never imagined peas would be one of them.
Old fashioned pea salad is a Midwestern potluck/family reunion/parish cookbook stalwart.
These classic creamy pea salads of the past are made with bacon, a mayo-based dressing, and red onions. Some versions include cheese; others are made with ranch dressing.
If you can’t tell, we have a rather liberal definition of “salad” here in the Midwest ;-). Grape Salad would know.
For today’s recipe, I wanted a more modern take on the creamy pea salad with bacon that I grew up seeing at summer gatherings.
This is a healthy pea salad without mayo. The dressing uses yogurt and it features heart-healthy additions (like almonds!).
At the same time, it stays true to its roots and tastes like it belongs at a proper cookout. You can thank the bacon!
If you love lighter versions of classic comfort foods, be sure to grab a copy of my cookbook! It has more than 1,750 5-star reviews and features lighter spins on beloved recipes like pasta salads, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and more.
5 Star Review
“I made this last night, and it was a big hit. The bonus is I’ll have lunch for a few days too.”— Jana —
How to Cook Pea Salad
This green pea salad turns a vegetable that would typically be filed under things my toddler won’t eat and turns it into a crowd-pleasing side that’s ideal for potlucks and barbecues.
The key to pea salad irresistibility is the toppings and dressing.
The ingredients are simple, but they work together to create something so yummy, I inhaled it directly out of my fridge.
- Peas. Technically a legume (the same family as chickpeas and lentils), peas are high in fiber and nutrients. They are this spring and summertime salad’s star!
While you can make fresh pea salad, I prefer to use frozen peas. They are just as nutritious as fresh peas and a complete time saver.
Since the peas are blanched before they are frozen, you do not need to cook them before adding them to the salad. Simply thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or run them under cool water to defrost.
- Chopped Roasted Almonds. They add warmth, crunch, and make the pea salad a pleasure to munch.
- Crispy Bacon. Pea salad with bacon is the way we do it here in the Midwest (Southern pea salad does the same).
- Greek Yogurt. My healthy stand-in for mayo. It has the same creaminess and tang as mayo or sour cream, but is low in calories and high in protein.
- Honey + Apple Cider Vinegar. Old fashioned pea salad dressing is usually made with white vinegar and sugar. I prefer the floral note of the honey and the subtle fruitiness of cider vinegar.
- Red Onions. Just the right bite and a pop of color.
- English Pea Salad. Add 2 to 3 diced hardboiled eggs.
- Sweet Pea Salad. Use baby peas or sweet peas, which are smaller and sweeter. These are my favorite!
- Southern Potato Salad. Add diced cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs, and swap the red onion for green onion.
- Cook the bacon, dice the red onion, and toast and chop the almonds.
- Stir together the dressing in a big bowl.
- Add everything to the bowl with the dressing and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover pea salad for up to 4 days. Stir and taste for seasoning before serving.
- To Freeze. I do not recommend freezing pea salad. It will become mushy and the dressing will separate. (Don’t worry; you won’t have leftovers).
Meal Prep Tip
Roast the almonds up to 2 weeks in advance. Store at room temperature. Stir together the dressing 1 day in advance and refrigerate.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Chef’s Knife. A cook’s most precious tool. It makes chopping a breeze.
- Mixing Bowls. These are stackable for easy storage, and they work great for this recipe.
- Measuring Spoons. I love how easy these are to store and the double sides mean you can stop less to wash while cooking.
I leave you in peace with the peas, courtesy of pea salad!
Green Pea Salad with Bacon and Almonds
- If necessary, cook the bacon according to one of my easy methods listed below. Once cool, chop into small pieces and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the peas, almonds, and red onion. Toss gently to coat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- *Easy bacon cooking methods: Air Fryer Bacon and Oven Baked Bacon.
- TO STORE. Refrigerate leftover pea salad for up to 4 days. Stir and taste for seasoning before serving.
- TO FREEZE. I do not recommend freezing pea salad. It will become mushy and the dressing will separate. (Don’t worry; you won’t have leftovers).
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