Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish

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The Pea Salad is a southern classic known for its simple no-fuss preparation that sometimes gets overlooked. This recipe has a light creamy dressing tossed with crispy peas,  fresh mushrooms, bacon, and pepper-jack cheese making the Pea Salad worth reconsidering.

Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish in 2 red and white toile bowls with forks on a wooden board.

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The Matriarch Of All Sides

Picnics, family reunions, Sunday dinners, holiday meals, and potlucks are main events where the pea salad always has an open invitation. It’s the perfect side dish to accompany any main course not just for its appealing bright color and taste, but its easy preparation. The basic recipe says to open a few cans, add mayo and boiled eggs with a little seasoning, and there you have the classic southern pea salad.

Well, maybe that’s why she’s been overlooked lately. She’s in need of a little adjustment to remind us of her worthiness. So let’s do it! Let’s lighten up her dressing and give her a few fresh ingredients with the options of a few old ones and enjoy her presence once again. 

Green Peas being rinsed in a silver colander for Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish.

Pea Salad Ingredient Switch 

Using frozen peas instead of canned gives this salad a better bite. By the time you rinse the peas and toss the ingredients, the peas are defrosted while still keeping their crispiness. 

Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish

A slight adjustment to the classic side is adding sour cream to the mayonnaise for a light creamy dressing. See Homemade Mayonnaise With A Creole Kick for a fresher taste. A bit of apple cider vinegar gives it some tang. The boiled eggs are still a good addition, but using fresh mushrooms instead keeps it on the lighter side. Some people have dietary needs concerning eggs, so the mushrooms are an excellent option.

Ingredients in a white bowl to the Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish.

Another exchange is the pepper jack cheese instead of the usual cheddar which adds a little spicy heat to taste. Now, don’t forget the red onions. They can be sliced thin or diced, whichever way you prefer.

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Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish

This easy Pea Salad has a bit of a twist from its classic version. Its light and creamy dressing is tossed with crispy peas, bacon, pepper-jack cheese, and fresh mushrooms. It’s the perfect side dish for your next meal. 

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced, then cut in half or diced


  1. Rinse peas in cold water in a colander.
  2. Stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, milk, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to make the dressing and set aside.
  3. Combine peas, bacon, mushrooms, cheese, and onion into a large bowl.
  4. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Using a mandoline to thinly slice the red onion helps get an excellent thin cut.
  • You can substitute 2 diced boiled eggs for the mushrooms if you prefer a more classic version of the pea salad.
  • Making the salad the day before helps blend the flavors together.
  • Add bacon drippings to salad dressing for more bacon flavor.
  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Keywords: Pea Salad

Pea Salad, The Forgotten Side Dish

So here we have the Matriarch of side dishes, the Pea Salad all dressed up and ready to go. I doubt she’ll be quickly forgotten with her new look and delicious taste at your next gathering.

“Lord, when I feel that what I’m doing is insignificant and unimportant, help me to remember that everything I do is significant and important in your eyes, because you love me and you put me here, and no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it.” 

Brennan Manning

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