This Light and Creamy Bacon Pea Salad is one of our favorite summer salads. It is the perfect potluck dish that compliments just about any meal. It’s a slightly sweet and savory salad that is easy to throw together and is guaranteed to wow your guests!
Filled with green peas, thick smoky chopped bacon, crunchy red onions, and cheddar cheese cubes – all tossed in a creamy dressing that has been lightened up without sacrificing flavor.
LIGHT AND CREAMY BACON PEA SALAD
This is the perfect summer dish to serve at any family picnic or barbecue! And it works great as a side to any holiday meal. It is one of our go-to cold salad side dishes that is easy to make, full of flavor, and a crowd pleaser among friends and family.
I can’t say that I have ever gone to a family gathering and not seen this side dish on the serving table or counter. It’s an indulging recipe that everyone loves and goes back for seconds over. But it’s not one that I have ever been willing to make at home because it is generally heavily mayonnaise based. Some recipes even calling for sour cream.
So, like with every recipe, I took on the personal challenge of trying to lighten it up without any noticeable change in flavor. You can’t completely omit the mayonnaise as it will sacrifice the key flavor of this dish. No matter how you slice it, you need just a touch of it as a base to this creamy, indulging dressing.
How did I lighten it up then? With the ever-so-popular go-to replacement: plain greek yogurt! And I replaced the white sugar for honey. But you can still use white sugar or maple syrup.
There has to be a happy balance. So if there isn’t the right amount of tangy flavor in the dressing, add a tablespoon of mayonnaise at a time until it is more suitable to your taste buds.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS PEA SALAD
Full recipe with directions is available via the printable recipe card below. Simply scroll down, print or even save it on Pinterest for later!
What I love about this recipe is that it takes just 15 minutes to make and requires minimal ingredients. Ingredients that I guarantee you already have available in your kitchen. It doesn’t get much better or much simpler than that.
Actually – never mind. It does! You can serve it with just about anything. Like my Easy and Quick Grilled Foil-Wrapped Ribs this summer or my Orange Brown Sugar Glazed Ham during the holiday season. It’s perfect any time of the year. Even simply to have for family dinners!
- Green peas – frozen or canned
- Sharp cheddar cheese – block or shredded
- Thick sliced bacon – cooked
- Red onion
- Dressing: apple cider vinegar, plain greek yogurt, light mayonnaise, salt, pepper, honey, garlic powder
All that you need to do from here is whisk together the dressing and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Easy peasy.
SALAD TIPS AND SWAPS
- Green Peas: You can use frozen or canned – whatever you have on hand. Keep in mind that frozen will be a bit more crisp than canned, which will hold up better in this salad. If you do use canned, I recommend thoroughly draining them and placing them into the fridge before putting this salad together to avoid any mush when stirring the dressing in. If using frozen, make sure to allow the peas to thaw completely and drain any water that may linger to avoid watering down the dressing.
- Red Onion: This adds not only flavor, but a much needed crunch. If you’re not a fan of red onion, you can omit and swap with celery for crunch.
- Thick Sliced Bacon: I prefer this over thin-sliced as it adds some texture, as well as a more profound smokey bacon flavor. If you need a lighter, healthier protein – swap for turkey bacon or roasted almonds.
- Honey: This is used in replacement of refined sugar. Maple syrup can be used as well.
- Cheddar Cheese: Small, bite-sized cubes or shredded will do. Pepper jack, Monterey jack, or Colby jack can be used, as well!
- Add-ins: Celery will add a delicious crunch. Almonds can swap out the bacon or be an additional texture. Avocado pairs well with bacon. Oh, and chop up some hardboiled eggs! YUM!
MORE SUMMER SALADS TO TRY
Looking for more lightened up salads to change things up a bit? Here are a few of my favorites!
- Honey Lime Fruit Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Avocado Salad
- Easy Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Skinny Taco Salad (Meal Prep)
- Cajun Lime Chicken Avocado Corn Salad
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Light and Creamy Bacon pea Salad
- 4 cups frozen peas (thawed)
- 1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese (cut into cubes or shredded)
- 4 strips thick cut bacon (cooked)
- 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less - to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (more or less - to taste)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- extra bacon crumbles (if needed)
- salt and pepper
- Remove peas from freezer and lay them on the counter to thaw. While they are thawing, cook the bacon, chop the red onions, and cut/shred the cheddar cheese.
- To a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing. Stir well and taste test for any adjustments such as salt, pepper or even mayonnaise. If you prefer a bit more of a tangy flavor, add 1 tablespoon of additional mayo at a time until desired flavor is met.
- To a large serving bowl, stir together the dressing with the salad ingredients.
- Dish can be served right away or (better yet) store it in a sealable tupperware container in the refrigerator for a minumum of 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to mingle.
- Gently stir before serving. Garnish with additional bacon, salt, and pepper - if needed.