4.73 from 459 votes

Pea Salad Recipe with Red Onions and Cheese {Video}

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Pea Salad with red onions and cheese is a quintessential recipe for spring and summer with its creamy texture and taste. And talk about an easy and colorful salad recipe!

If you can mix, you can make, which means this classic pea salad is done in mere minutes to free you up for summer fun. 

bowl with pea salad inside.

Why you should make Pea Salad!

Not that you would know it by the temperature outside in most of America, but summer IS on its way. That means tons of time at the beach, parks, picnics – which also means plenty of hungry friends and family.

This delicious summer salad dish is so creamy that it’s a perfect combination with bacon, red onions, and cheese that will have your guests begging for more. Always on the table in the south, this refreshing salad recipe is the one you grew up with; flavorful and easy to indulge.

Plus you won’t believe how easy it is to make! With no baking or cooking needed, this simple salad can be ready to walk out the door quite quickly.

Salad Ingredients

Separately these ingredients are delicious but together they make a perfect side dish that will complement all your upcoming meals!

This cold dish is fantastic to be served with fried chicken, BBQ, grilled meats, or even just have in a bowl as a main dish (which is what I do).

  • frozen peas – Frozen peas hold up texture (unlike canned peas). Simply remove from freezer and let thaw then drain excess moisture before using in salad. 
  • bacon – Bacon should be cooked through before adding to salad. In quick cases its fine to use pre-made bacon (think microwave bacon).
  • cheese – shredded cheddar cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese work the best in this salad. Many people prefer CHUNKS of cheddar cheese and that is a style choice that is fine. 
pea salad ingredients.
  • diced red onion – Red onion is a fairly strong ingredient. If you like red onion but do not want it to overpower the pea salad, soak red onion pieces in cold water for up to 30 minutes, drain, dry, and then add to salad. 
  • salt and pepper
  • bacon bits – Totally optional, but bacon bits can be added on top for additional crunch and presentation.

How to make Pea Salad with Cheese

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine thawed peas, bacon, onions, both kinds of shredded cheese, mayonnaise and mix well so that all your ingredients are covered.
  2. Season with salt and black pepper and mix a few more times, adding a dash here or there to make sure you get full coverage of your spices.
  3. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to make sure flavors and creamy homemade dressing blend and are cold upon serving.
  4. Mix green pea salad well one more time before dishing out.
creamy pea salad and how to make it.


Do you have to thaw frozen peas? 

Yes, it’s best to thaw frozen pieces to remove excess moisture in the salad. We tend to leave the frozen bag in the fridge the day before we have to make the salad. However, if you need to make the salad immediately simply remove peas from the bag and rinse with cold water until defrosted. 

How long does creamy pea salad last? 

Pea salad is one of my favorite recipes so I would say it only lasts a day! But this flavorful salad can be stored and eaten for up to 3 days (as with most foods) in the fridge. Because of the shelf life, it’s fine to make a day ahead of time to serve.

How to store cold pea salad. 

Old fashioned pea salad can be stored for quite a few days just fine in the fridge. Seal in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If pea salad is a little dry from the cold, add in a bit of mayo (a little at a time) till creamier consistency. Please note that any bacon in the salad will likely go soft in the salad. 

Can canned peas be used in pea salad? 

No. You do not want to use canned peas in this salad.

Frozen peas are simply blanched and canned peas are typically soaked in water and are too soft for a servable salad. Save canned peas for other side dish recipes.

cheesy pea salad in a bowl being mixed.

Recipe Variations

  • Try adding more bacon, cut up tomatoes, green onions, or even make your pea salad with boiled eggs (English Pea Salad). 
  • Substitute bacon with turkey bacon. 
  • Add in ham our creamy ham and pea salad recipe does.

  • You can make pea salad with pasta too!
  • Make it Vegetarian: Just remove the bacon!
  • Change up the cheese: Add chunks of cheddar cheese (over shredded) or if you are the adventurous type when it comes to altering classic recipes, change up for a more unique cheese like blue cheese, goat cheese, or feta cheese.  

red onion pea salad.
4.73 from 459 votes

Pea Salad with Red Onions and Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Pea Salad is a quintessential recipe for spring and summer and so easy.  Peas, Cheese, and slices of bacon make this a flawless cold salad side dish for outdoor summer servings. Highly rated, this classic pea salad is simply one of the most highly rated pea salad recipes on Pinterest! The perfect creamy dressing just wraps the peas up in love and every bite contains a bit of perfect red onion and cheese. Optionally, pea salads are so complementary to bits of crunchy bacon as a topping. Love more cheese? Instead of shredded, simply add bite sized cubes of cheese. No matter how you enjoy pea salad, this recipe is perfect for potlucks, parties, and holidays as the most important side dish. 


  • 16 oz. frozen peas thawed and drained
  • 6 strips bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper


  • In a large mixing bowl combine thawed peas (drained of any excess water), cut bacon, diced red onions, shredded cheese, and mayonnaise, and mix all pea salad ingredients together well. 
  • Season salad with salt and pepper and mix again to incorporate seasonings.
  • Refrigerate pea salad 4 hours or overnight. Mix well before serving to prevent settling.
  • Chill for at least 4 hours and keep cold prior to serving. 



Do you have to thaw frozen peas? 
Yes, it’s best to thaw frozen pieces to remove excess moisture in the salad. We tend to leave the frozen bag in the fridge the day before we have to make the salad. However, if you need to make the salad immediately simply remove peas from the bag and rinse with cold water until defrosted. 
How long does creamy pea salad last? 
Pea salad is one of my favorite recipes so I would say it only lasts a day! But this flavorful salad can be stored and eaten for up to 3 days (as with most foods) in the fridge. Because of the shelf life, it’s fine to make a day ahead of time to serve.
How to store cold pea salad. 
Old fashioned pea salad can be stored for quite a few days just fine in the fridge. Seal in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If pea salad is a little dry from the cold, add in a bit of mayo (a little at a time) till creamier consistency. Please note that any bacon in the salad will likely go soft in the salad. 


Serving: 1 | Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 481mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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4.73 from 459 votes

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made the salad with a few changes. I added 1/4 cup sour cream with the mayonnaise and some dried dill. I love this salad. It’s perfect to go with grilled burgers, sliders and deli style sandwiches.

    1. I love your alterations! Thanks for chiming in, Ill try it your way too next time we make it.

    2. Can you use fresh shelled peas vs frozen by chance?

    3. Delicious full of flavour 😊

  2. I made this super simple salad today during my keto weekly meal prep. I omitted salt and pepper (because I have kids and THEIR salt and pepper tastes vary daily, so We add such things individually.) I added the spice called “Sunny Paris” by Penzeys. It has a great blend of purple shallots. CHIves, green peppercorn, french basil, french tarragon, chervil,bay leaf and dill Weed. The addition was very tasty. (I’m not affiliated with Penzeys, just a satisfied customer! )I’ll be checking out more of your recipes and I know I’ll make this salad again and again.

    1. I have never tried Penzeys! I will check it out. Also just so you know, most people on Keto do not eat peas. They are certainly delicious but I believe have too many carbs for a traditional Keto program.

    2. What is the nutritional info on this recipe

    3. I dont always provide it as most nutritional guides on recipes are pulled in and automatically calculated and sometimes are not correct. You can drop this recipe link into CarbManager and adjust your personal serving and it will give you an estimate. I am currently looking for a way to provide solid information to readers that can be trusted.

    4. Madelaine says:

      You can’t go wrong with Penny’s. A lot cheaper than grocery store herbs and spices. Various sizes are sold.

    5. That’s Penzy’s not Penny’s. Doggone auto-correct!

    6. Wow! I hate autocorrect! That’s Penzeys not Penny’s.

    7. If you call 19.00 for a 2 oz bottle of spices cheap. That’s ridiculous.

    8. Sara Larsen says:

      Never added bacon to mine, plus I’ve always cubed the cheese. But a friend told me about this addition and I love it as it adds some crunchiness. She added chopped water chestnuts. It’s very good

    9. Water chestnuts is so interesting! I could see how the crunch in that would be awesome. Thanks for sharing!!

    10. Karen Doris says:

      Or walnuts

  3. I love pea salad, I always made it with just Hellman’s, but then I discovered Marzettis sweet Vidalia onion salad dressing! Oh wow! I use half mayo and half dressing now and it’s soooo good!

  4. Pat Lucas says:

    This salad is great made with homemade ranch dressing instead of mayo, and yes – fill weed! Sometimes I add very small pieces of raw cauliflower! But the peas and red onion – yum!! Lots of red onion!

    1. OOH Yes! Fantastic idea for this pea salad!

  5. Michelle Roseberry says:

    Great recipe! I added eggs to mine!!

  6. Jackie Cox says:

    I added peppered cashew nuts, chopped hard boiled egg, and lemon juice for tartness. Perfect summer day food!

    1. ooh, love this idea, thanks! Ill def have to try it your way too.

  7. Hi, Trisha! I made this recently, but had to switch things up, because I didn’t have any bacon or red onions. I try to use what I have on-hand, so I used Vidalia onions and left out the bacon. I also used 1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch Dressing and 1/2 Hellmann’s mayonnaise. It came out great. My husband and I enjoyed it for days. Delicious!

    1. Doris, this version of the pea salad recipe sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing your alternate ingredients, Ill have to try it for sure!

  8. Hunter Hoff says:

    I made this recipe today and along with all the other spices, I added 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and this reminded me sooo much of a seven layer salad minus eggs and lettuce! Very light and good😍

    1. Hi Hunter! Yes, very much like seven layer salad, you are right! I am glad you enjoyed it. I can eat pea salad for lunch as my entire lunch, haha!

  9. Great idea because my friend cant do mayo because she is allergic to eggs.

    Thanks so much,

    1. My daughter is also allergic to eggs and uses Just Mayo, which is egg free. It’s actually very good.

    2. thanks for the suggestion!

  10. Can this be made with drained canned peas? I recently “inherited” 24 cans of Le Sueur peas and am looking for recipes.

    1. hi Tracy! You COULD do that if drained well, but you may want to lessen the mayo content as canned peas are really soft and the mayo may weigh it down. Frozen veggies always work better in salads because they are crisper as far as taste, but peas are pretty versatile and I think I would give it a shot on the pea salad if I had that may cans. Again, you will need to make sure there is no additional water content so drain well.

    2. What about home-made pea soup? Or create a canned pea casserole with some carrots, cream sauce and a crunchy topping?++

    3. Mary Albert says:

      You can have a heavy cycle of tuna casseroles in your near ‘pea-pickin'” future, Tracy! Salad recipe is perfect, Trisha ~ I’d do it with the addition of cooked tiny shell macaroni, because there’s something so sweet and comforting about shells and peas together. 🙂

    4. Hi Mary! Thank you for the feedback!Great minds do think alike because I have a slight variation of my pea salad that does include the mini pasta shells. Its more filling of course but totally delicious.

      The recipe is here https://www.saltysidedish.com/pea-pasta-salad/

    5. Split pea soup?

    6. I love this salad! I have only used canned Le Sueur peas. I drain them and place in the freezer first. It works.

  11. Linda Johnson says:

    Always love this salad. Always do frozen peas because of the “crunchy” texture. Thanks for the recipe because I lost my original one. Will be eating a large dish for my supper tonight.

    1. Linda, its my very favorite salad myself!

  12. I added a couple hard boiled eggs, some celery and a little sugar. Turned out great. I will be making this a lot in the future. Thanks!

    1. Yum, hard boiled eggs sounds great in an egg salad! Thanks for your feedback on this recipe, Madonna!

  13. Monica kuhr says:

    Just a couple of tweaks on this recipe.
    I use a large can of sweet peas and add a 20 Oz can of pineapple chunks, drained. Instead of a cup of mayo I use 1/4-1/2 cup and add the pineapple juice to it until desired consistency Refrigerate until ready to serve

  14. Great recipe!! My only alterations were replacing the bacon with 1/2 cup cashews and reducing the mayonnaise to 3/4 cup. Yummy!!

    1. Ellen, that sounds delicious. I cant say I have ever had cashews in my pea salad but yum!!

  15. I love this recipe and have made it for years. I first ate it at a neighborhood cook out. I add fresh spinach to my big bowl first, place the salad on top then toss right before serving. It seems to always be a hit at any summer or holiday function no matter what changes you make to it.

    1. I agree, pea salad is SO good!! I also love to make it with little macaroni shells. Yum!!

  16. I added some beets. Very goog

  17. I put chopped up lettuce in the salad right before I serve it.

    1. that sounds like a great pea salad addition! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Danikia McCarley says:

    I made this yesterday and my family loved it! I used mayo and sour cream and a shallot as I didnt have any red onion. I have saved this recipe on my phone and wrote it in my notebook! Absolutely delish!

    1. Thank your coming back to share with me!! I am so glad you enjoyed this pea salad- its one of my VERY favorites!! I think peas are so underrated in cold salads.

  19. Ret Yeager says:

    I always add raw cauliflower cut in small pieces to my pea salad. Adds a yummy crunch and flavor.

    1. Yum!! That crunch in the pea salad does sound amazing!

  20. I’ve never been a big fan of pea salad… Until now! This is the best recipe I’ve ever come across, and it’s so simple. We did not even give it a chance to sit in the fridge for four hours, we ate it immediately while the bacon was still crunchy. There was a little bit left over, so we’ll see if it’s different after sitting in the fridge for a while. Thank you for this recipe! My mom used to make it but I did not have her recipe. This is my go-to recipe from now on.

    1. Debi, thanks for the amazing feedback for my pea salad. I am so glad that your family enjoyed it – that warms my heart!


  21. Lisa Painter says:

    Can fresh peas be substituted for frozen? I am going to have an abundance of fresh peas from the garden??

    1. Hi Lisa, I dont see why not. You will just need to make sure you pre-prep your fresh peas so they are soft and ready to eat before moving onto the salad. My guess is you boil them?

    2. Geri-Lynn Mineau says:

      I think I would like them fresh from the garden. They would pop in your mouth. I made your recipe for dinner tonight. My taste testings were delicious. Will maybe try the water chestnuts next time 😊. Yummy, so many options. Thanks

  22. Two delicious additions to pea salad are green onions and peanuts.

  23. Just in case anyone else is wondering (like me) I put this into My Fitness Pal and ran the macros for the recipe exactly as it’s posted.For 8 servings it breaks down to 331 calories per serving, with 9.3 carbs, 9.1 g protein, and 28.3 g of fat. I’m interested to try some of the variations of this delicious sounding recipe that are posted in the comments.

    1. Thanks Heather!

  24. Retired but not tired - yet!! says:

    Thank you for the recipe & your gracious nature about all the different takes on your original recipe. Well I wanted to have the pea salad as a side dish to a pico de Gallo/cheese/chicken bake recipe for dinner so I added 1/4 cup Aldi’s Chipotle Ranch Dressing to 1/2 cup of mayo. I also added 1/4 cup pico de gallo, garlic pepper, chopped celery & low salt salami chopped (I didn’t have bacon). It was delicious! I really think I will use shredded rotisserie chicken instead of the salami next time. I totally agree this is a meal in itself & I always enjoy pea salad for days when I make it! Loved all the ideas/additions too!

    1. I think adding pico to anything is delicious!! I love how creative you got with this recipe! ~Trisha

  25. Elaine Harpe says:

    Love this salad. So versatile. I chop up a couple of hard boiled eggs in mine.

  26. mae beech says:

    after reading all these ideas for this pea salad, i am so hungry for it now i will be making it as soon as i get a bag of peas. thanks so much. can’t wait for tomorrow for some pea salad. Mae

  27. Five stars! Great recipe. I used sweet white onion, water chestnuts, no bacon, elbow macaroni, 1/2 Kens Sweet Vidalia dressing, 1/2 Mayo.
    Also made it hot one night for supper. DH liked it.

    1. Thank you! I am so so happy that you loved this pea salad!! Love the addition of the chesnuts, yum!

  28. Love this recipe! Made slight changes – I was out of bacon, so I used 1/2 cup chopped ham. We’re not all fans of mayo, so I used 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup mayo with 1 tablespoon of sugar. It was delicious! We devoured it!

    1. Sour cream and mayo always work great! So glad you enjoyed it!~

  29. Gabby Marshall says:

    Have just finished reading all comments. It is nearly midnight in NZ and I can’t wait to make pea salad tomorrow…..thankyou.

  30. Oh my Gosh, this was wonderful!!!! Thank you. Believe it or not I’m making it to go with Christmas dinner just for a mix up in sides variety! And Penzey’s is a beautiful addiction for me. They may be a little more pricey, but the robust flavors help reduce how much I’m using. I love their homemade vanilla, or when I have time I order the vanilla beans (madagascar is a favorite) and out it in my container with vodka and I let soak until I get the strength I desire. Ok, I dont sell it or anything but if you haven’t tried it yet please try Penzey. (Cardamom, pumpkin pie spice hooked me in) Oh and they throw in samples!

    1. I think pea salad is great for Christmas! Plus, its green 🙂

  31. Any chance that the Nutritional Facts can be added to this posted recipe? Over one hundred people have commented and more have saved it for future go to recipe. Seems to be a lot of effort if everyone is self calculating. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Debbie, I added them but remember that it calculates based on the recipe and is more of an auto situation. In the end we always recommend that each person, if nutrition and counting macros or carbs, are best served in an app you trust. I like to use CarbManager.

  32. I really loved it and a go to salad for me in the summer.

    1. Diane – it’s one of my favorite summer salads too! So glad you enjoyed it!


  33. My Absolute Favorite Salad!

    It’s the exact recipe I’ve made for years, but with the addition of a can of sliced waterchestnuts chopped up..

    Ridding it of excess moisture cannot be stressed enough!!

    I spread the peas out on paper towels til dry.. Same with the sliced waterchestnuts , pressing another layer of towels on top.
    It makes a huge difference

  34. I’ve had salad like this but with peanuts. Would that be an option to add ?

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      You can always test out any additional ingredients. I don’t see any reason why peanuts wouldn’t be a great additional ingredient for you.

  35. I tried this and it was great. Thanks for sharing!
    I have made something very similar many times using cottage cheese instead of the mayo and adding diced ham and sunflower seeds.
    I just love summer salads!

  36. Just picked our first harvest of peas and they went right into this salad. I had a yellow pepper that I added to the mix. This is a great summer salad.

  37. One of my all time favorites! So easy to make and so delicious!

  38. I usually make pea salad using a block of garlic cheese (if you can find it maybe in the deli section) dice it up. I also dice up red onion.
    Sprinkle garlic salt and pepper and enough mayonnaise to your liking.
    Add a can of drained water chestnuts (diced) in the oriental section.
    Instead of fresh bacon I sprinkle some of a bottle of bacon bits before serving.
    I love the crunch of the water chestnuts and bacon bits.

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Thank you for your ideas!

  39. Sandra Richardson says:

    Pea salad is a favorite in my family. I wish you would not say not to use canned peas!! ACTUALLY, I use canned peas because that is what we prefer and the salad is great!! No frozen peas for us!

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      I am so happy it works for you but in general, peas in a can can be mushy depending on the brand so I don’t recommend. That being said, if you found a brand that works well, would love for you to share!

  40. Kimberley says:

    Can I use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise?

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Yes. It alters the taste of course, but Greek yogurt is a commonly used substitute for mayo.

  41. I also and a couple of chopped hard boiled eggs.

  42. This pea salad is delicious! I love it❤️

  43. Loved this recipe! I added more bacon, but then I always do!

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Is there really such a thing as “too much bacon”? Hahaha!


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