Old Fashioned English Pea Salad

This Old Fashioned English Pea Salad is a classic Southern side dish and a “must” for your Easter menu! It pairs well with ham and is ready in 20-minutes! 

Tender sweet peas nestled in a tangy mayonnaise sauce with bites of cheddar cheese and red onion – and the beauty of this easy recipe is that there’s no cooking involved!

Southerner’s refer to this as a “salad” as they refer to “chicken or tuna salad“-there’s no lettuce or greens in it, just the peas, mayonnaise and a few other all-natural ingredientsClose up of English Pea Salad in white bowl

This Southern Pea Salad is a staple menu item at Easter because it pairs beautifully with ham. You’ll find a big bowl of this at Southern funeral’s, too. It’s a vintage recipe that requires no time at all!

Why you’ll like it!

  • It’s a “NO-COOK” classic pea salad recipe–literally, you don’t have to cook anything!
  • Easy, simple, affordable and tasty!
  • Easy clean-up: two bowls and a cutting board then BAM, you’re done!
  • It’s a perfect side dish with sweet or smoked ham, pork tenderloin or ribs!
  • The texture is perfect! Cool and crunchy, with a hint of tart and a creamy dressing!
  • Keto-friendly!

This dish might not be a widespread Southern thing, but it is very common in Texas–this is a great side dish and we serve this green pea salad it every Easter with the other Southern side dishes like Southern potato salad, Pineapple Cheese Casserole, Maple Baked beans and yeast rolls.

Some might consider it an “old fashioned” recipe, but I just consider it a classic side dish! We used to have this on busy school nights with old fashioned salmon patties – made a perfect meal that was quick and easy.

What’s an English pea?

English peas are also known as “green peas”. They are not the same as snap peas or sugar snap peas.

The primary difference is their pod. A green pea pod is waxy and fibrous where a snap or sugar pea pod is softer and edible. You’ll want to make sure you use “frozen peas,” “frozen English peas,” or “frozen green peas.”

Here’s what you’ll need

A bag of frozen sweet peas, and a simple mixture of mayonnaise, a red onion, sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper. That’s it!!!

I’ve never made english pea salad with canned peas – always frozen. Canned peas have been parboiled and are in a salty brine which not only darkens the color of the peas, but it also gives a “metallic” flavor. I recommed using frozen peas for best results.

Here’s how to make it

Rinse the frozen peas in cold water and drain, then chop the red onion and cube the cheese. Put that in a large bowlClear bowl with red onion, cubed cheddar and green peas

In a smaller bowl, make the creamy dressing and fold it into the peas with the rest of the ingredients.Peas in strainer with cubed cheddar and sauce on the side

Taste for salt and pepper. In this version, you can see I added a little dill weed:) We’ll discuss variations later…

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. (I think it actually tastes better after its rested a couple of hours or even served the next day!)

When you’re ready to serve, just let it sit out on the counter about 10 minutes or until it’s almost room temperature. Stir it up with a spatula and serve with a slotted spoon!

Expert tips

Make ahead

If you’re short on time, make the dressing ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge 1-3 days in advance. On the day of serving, just rinse the peas, add the sauce and let sit in the fridge a bit.

Frozen or canned peas?

Fresh peas (or canned peas) do not work in this recipe. They turn to mush. Do not ask me how I know this.

Serving suggestion

Serve this slightly chilled. If you serve this in the summer months (at an outdoor picnic or barbecue), then serve it on a bowl of ice. The mayonnaise might go rancid if it sits out in the heat.

Variations

Even though this recipe is delicious as written, you can always add in your own stuff. Some people like to add the following to this classic salad:

  • Diced red bell pepper
  • Drained pimentos
  • Tiny bits of radish
  • Bits of salty bacon or dried real bacon bits
  • Hard boiled egg (if you add boiled egg to this old fashioned English pea salad, fold the sliced boiled egg in in with the peas, cheese and onion.) 
  • Dill weed
  • Green onion
  • Pickle relish
  • Celery – this gives the pea mixture a slight crunch!
  • Garlic powder

English Pea Salad in white bowlYou might remember this old fashioned English Pea recipe from your grandmother or great-grandmother’s table…it’s a Southern vintage recipe that still remains strong today!

Related recipes

If you’re looking for more Spring and Summer side dishes, you might like:

♥ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and rating! Thank you!

English Pea Salad in white bowl

English Pea Salad Recipe

Classic Southern English Pea Salad with hints of red onion, cheddar in a light sauce.
5 from 17 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Chill: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
Author: Anecia Hero

Ingredients 

  • 12 oz sweet peas , frozen, rinsed and thawed
  • cup mayonnaise
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup red onion chopped
  • ¾ cups cheddar cheese cubed
  • salt and pepper , to taste

Instructions 

  • Rinse, drain and thaw frozen sweet peas
    12 oz sweet peas
  • Add peas, cheese and onion to a large bowl
    12 oz sweet peas, ¾ cups cheddar cheese, ¼ cup red onion
  • Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and vinegar in a small bowl; fold this mixture into the peas
    ⅓ cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • Taste for salt and pepper
    salt and pepper
  • Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes
  • When ready to serve, let the salad sit out a few minutes; stir and serve

Notes

Variations:
Feel free to add any of the following to your salad!
  • Add one chopped boiled egg or cooked bacon crumbles
  • Drained pimento slices
  • Finely chopped red bell pepper
  • Sprinkle a little dill weed in the salad
Serve slightly chilled

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 4oz.Calories: 254kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 6gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 266mgPotassium: 62mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 332IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 174mgIron: 1mg
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7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a delicious easy recipe for any summer occasion….it is so flavorful and the appearance is so advertising

  2. 5 stars
    We had this often when I was growing up! Sometimes mama used little LeSeur canned peas and sometimes she used frozen peas! It was enjoyed either way, and even liked by the kids who wouldn’t eat veggies!!