Savory from the cheese and bacon, a bit of sweet from the peas and dressing - it's no wonder this Classic Pea Salad recipe has stood the test of time.
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What is it about pea salad with bacon that makes it so popular? Have you ever gone to a potluck dinner where you don't find classic pea salad? It's a classic potluck salad, and so easy to make and delicious. It's savory from the cheese and bacon, a bit of sweet from the peas and dressing - it's no wonder it's a hit. My mom had this recipe since the 1950's.
Two Classic Pea Salad changes for the 21st century
Well, I did change it up a bit, for the better. The original recipe calls for two things I've long since swapped out, and I think the result is the BEST classic pea salad.
First, it called for canned peas. I never cared for canned peas (too mushy), so I switched them out for frozen. There's no need to turn on the stove, because frozen peas are already cooked by blanching.
Second, her old recipe called for Miracle Whip. Since I'd rather avoid the high fructose corn syrup, I use regular mayonnaise and jazz it up with vinegar and sugar.
I don't think you can ever have too much bacon, and it's sooo delicious in classic pea salad. I always add a little extra beyond what the original recipe called for (the recipe below has the extra bacon in it). An electric griddle is my favorite way to cook bacon (my favorite one is the basic Presto model).
I've seen and eaten pea salad recipes that call for prepared bacon bits, but to be honest, I've never cared for them (too tough and chewy), so I always just fry my own. My mom's classic pea salad with bacon recipe doesn't use the store-bought prepared bacon either. This recipe was written before packaged, cooked bacon bits were a "thing."
More Potluck Favorites
- Beef Noodle Casserole
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- No-Bake Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Curried Chicken Waldorf Salad
- Easy Corn Casserole with Cheddar and Bacon
- Bacon Dill Potato Salad
The Best Classic Pea Salad - 1950's
- 16 ounces frozen peas thawed
- 10 slices bacon cooked crisp and chopped into bits
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese cubed to around ⅓ inch
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped
- 1¼ cups mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Set the peas in a colander and spread them around the sides to thaw. Set aside.
- Fry the bacon to a nice crisp, let it cool enough to handle, then chop or use your fingers to break it into small pieces, ½-inch-ish. Set aside.
- Cube the cheese to about ⅓-inch and set aside. Chop the onion about the same size or a little smaller and set aside.
- Place the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and mix well to combine.
- Set some of the bacon aside for garnish. To the mixing bowl, add the peas, bacon and cheese. Toss gently but thoroughly to combine the ingredients with the dressing - using a rubber or silicon spatula works best. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to suit, if needed.
- Chill well before serving. Garnish with the remaining bacon and (optional) sliced or chopped hard boiled egg.