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Classic Southern Pea Salad

Recapture those Southern flavors with this classic Southern pea salad, mixing a layer of creaminess and fresh crunch. This is a picnic classic and pairs brilliantly with anything grilled.

A bowl of pea salad with chunks of ham, hard-boiled eggs, and shredded cheese on top, placed on a light green surface. Text at the bottom reads "sarahscoopeats.com.

Rediscovering Southern Roots

Classic Southern pea salad may be the most emblematic of classic Southern dishes, the ideal compliment to summer salads and busy holiday spreads alike. 

A recipe native to the Deep South, this creamed pea salad has been present on Southern tables for generations.

Created with the consciousness of scarcity of earlier times that relied on the reuse of leftovers, this salad provides freshness to your table.

This salad is served at picnics, potlucks, and Sunday suppers as a nod to tradition.

Just the flexibility of classical Southern Pea Salad is what’s so terrific about this great Southern salad.

It’s what you want it to be among go-to potluck suppers, cold side dishes, or Southern salad side dish recipes.

Flavor Overview

Its flavors are just right for almost every palate: mixtures of tender peas, crunchy celery, and tangy pickles as creamy dressing bindings make this salad unforgettable.

Every spoonful of this salad should be rewarded with a fresh splash of bright flavors.

Whether you’re hosting a barbecue in the backyard, a park picnic, or a family dinner at home, this salad is perfect for any menu.

Because you can make it ahead of time, its flavors will blend and be even better as each hour passes.

Store in an airtight container to preserve each ingredient. 

Most importantly, it’s the kind of dish that brings conversation and smiles to everybody’s table. 

Ultimately, classic Southern pea salad is not simple-minded.

It’s simply Southern, and it celebrates Southern ingenuity and sharing meals with those we hold dear.

So, next time you have some leftover peas from supper or you’re gearing up for another summer salad, try making some classic Southern pea salad. 

 We think this is the best pea salad recipe, and so will you.

A bowl filled with a salad consisting of peas, chopped onions, bacon bits, and shredded cheddar cheese. The website sarahscoopeats.com is visible at the bottom of the image.

Classic Southern Pea Salad Ingredients

  • Sweet Peas: 1 (16-ounce) package, frozen or canned: Sweet green peas are essential for any pea salad recipe.
  • Eggs: 2 hard-boiled and chopped: hard boiling eggs and chopping them up, or slicing them in half, is an excellent flavor and protein supplement to your pea salad.
  • Bacon or ham: 4 to 6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled, or 1 cup chopped cooked ham: This is a two-strand protein salad. You choose.
  • Green Onions: 1/2 cup, chopped: Green onions will add the best taste and the best texture.
  • Cheddar Cheese: 1 cup, shredded:  Whatever shredded cheese you like; we like cheddar.
  • Black Pepper: 1/4 teaspoon: You just can’t have a classic pea salad recipe without salt and pepper. They will bring out the flavor of every other ingredient.
  • Salt:  1/2 teaspoon: Sprinkle your salt over your salad in a big bowl and don’t forget to mix it all up.
  • Garlic powder: 1/4 teaspoon: I use garlic powder in this recipe and just about every other recipe I make. Seriously, it goes on everything from pasta salad and potato salad to this creamy pea salad.
  • Celery Seeds: 1/2 teaspoon or 1/2 cup of chopped celery: Chopped celery is a sure-bet ingredient in this recipe.
  • Cayenne Pepper: A dash: Cayenne Pepper adds a tinge of tanginess and spiciness that delivers a big flavor punch without overtaking the bacon crumbs.
  • Mayonnaise: 1/2 cup: You can’t have too much mayo. It helps your green pea salad ingredients mix together, and it’s delicious!
  • Sour Cream: ½ cup: The sour cream works together with the mayonnaise to make a creamy salad dressing.
A bowl of peas mixed with scrambled eggs and bacon pieces, with a spoon on the side. The image has a watermark, "sarahscoopeats.com," at the bottom.

How to Make Classic Creamy Pea Salad

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peas, eggs, bacon or ham, green onions, and shredded cheese.
  2. Now, add your seasonings. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic powder, celery seeds, and cayenne into the salad and mix until completely combined.
  3. In a different bowl, whisk together the sour cream and mayo for the dressing. Pour the combined dressing over your salad and mix it in.
  4. Let your pea salad with bacon chill in an airtight container in the fridge for one hour. This lets the best flavors mesh together.
  5. Give it a good stir before serving.
  6. Once you mix everything together, you’re ready to serve your cold pea salad!
  7. Enjoy this salad at your next family gathering, and store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container
A close-up of a dish containing peas, diced ham, pieces of cheese, and shredded cheddar.

Make The Best Pea Salad Ever!

Now you know how to make my favorite pea salad tried and true just like mom used to make!

Because this recipe is made with simple ingredients you can definitely add your own spin, and make this dish your own. You have lots of options. 

Choose between crispy bacon bits and ham. Use canned peas or frozen green peas.

Sometimes I enjoy adding apple cider vinegar to the dressing for a little bit of tang in the creamy sauce.

If you want a sweet dressing, maybe you could add honey to the mixture, and if you want a thicker dressing, add Greek yogurt

Maybe even add some water chestnuts for a bit of flavor contrast. 

It is so easy to make this delicious salad ahead of time and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

It’s a salad with protein and lots of vegetables. It tastes good and its also good for you.

Classic Southern Pea Salad

Recapture those Southern flavors with this Classic Southern Pea Salad, mixing a layer of creaminess and fresh crunch. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 (16-ounce) package, frozen or canned
  • 2, hard-boiled and chopped
  • 4 to 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, or 1 cup of cooked and chopped ham (optional)
  • 1/2 cup, chopped green onion
  • 1 cup, shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon or 1/2 cup of chopped celery
  • A sprinkle of cayenne pepper, for a touch of heat
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


    1. Combine the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, toss together the thawed peas, chopped eggs, crumbled bacon or ham, green onions, and shredded cheese.
    2. Season: Add black pepper, salt, garlic powder, celery seeds, and a dash of cayenne. Mix well to ensure even distribution of seasonings.
    3. Dress It Up: In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream until smooth. Pour over the pea mixture and gently mix to coat all ingredients.
    4. Chill: Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld.
    5. Enjoy: Serve chilled as a refreshing side dish at your next barbecue or family gathering.

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