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Mom’s Easy Pea Salad

This Easy Pea Salad has been made in my family for years! It always goes fast and is perfect to take to a barbecue or summer potluck.

My mom has been making this easy pea salad for us for years. It’s one of those easy-yet-delicious recipes that she keeps in her head, ready to be made at a moment’s notice. An easy pea salad to take along to any event!

Easy Pea Salad Recipe

Pea Salad Ingredients

  • Sweet Green Peas – Fresh peas are delicious in this easy pea salad but frozen peas will do the trick just fine, too. I don’t think I’d recommend using canned; they’d be just a bit too soft and I don’t think the texture would be the same. But, oooh…if you can get fresh, do go there. Just give them a quick blanch and they’ll be ready to go. Sweet peas are also known as English or gardens peas are the most common variety you’ll find, fresh, frozen or canned.
  • Mayonnaise – I use regular mayo or homemade mayo if I have it on hand. Light mayo or a mayo substitute can be used, if preferred.
  • Balsamic vinegar – The addition of sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar helps cut through the richness of the other ingredients in this pea salad recipe.
  • Sugar – The sugar enhances the taste of the peas.
  • Sweet onion – The onions are the savory ingredient and while red onions are commonly used in a pea salad, I prefer the milder and sweeter flavor of sweet onions.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – Along with the mayo, the cheese adds a creamy element but also a rich and tangy flavor. I use sharp cheddar because I like the bold and tangy taste it adds to this recipe but if you prefer a milder cheese flavor, use mild or medium cheddar.
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper – The basic seasonings that help enhance the flavors of the sweet pea salad.

Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.

How to Make Pea Salad

To make pea salad, combine cooked peas, diced sweet onion, shredded cheddar cheese, and a dressing of your choice (such as mayonnaise, sour cream, or vinaigrette), season with salt and pepper, and toss until well mixed.

  1. Place peas in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, mix together mayo, vinegar, sugar and sweet onion. Add dressing to peas and gently but thoroughly mix together.
  3. Add cheese and gently mix in. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  4. Serve immediately or leave in fridge for up to 12 hours before serving.

How to Blanch Peas – Cook Fresh Peas

For the uninitiated, Blanching is the process where peas are briefly submerged in boiling water and then immediately cooled to stop further cooking. Blanched foods are cooked so briefly that they are still considered raw.

While canned or frozen peas are already blanched (cooked), if using fresh peas, they do need to be blanched. Here is how to blanch fresh peas:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes, and set aside.
  3. Remove the peas from their pods and discard any damaged or discolored peas.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the fresh peas and a teaspoon of salt to the pot and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Remove the peas from the boiling water using a slotted spoon or a strainer and transfer them immediately to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  6. Let the peas sit in the ice bath for about a minute or until they are completely cooled.
  7. Drain the peas well and pat them dry using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

The fresh peas are now ready for this recipe!

Easy Sweet Pea Salad Recipe - a fantastic & super easy side dish. Perfect for summer barbecues! | #veggies #barbecue #sidedish

Pea Salad Add-ins & Variations

A classic pea salad needs just a few key ingredients but of course there are always a few more ingredients that can be added to suit personal preference. Here are a few ideas to consider incorporating into this recipe.

Bacon or ham – Crumbled bacon is a common ingredient added to pea salad and nicely contrasts the sweetness of the peas. Diced ham will have a similar effect.

Hard-Boiled Eggs – Eggs will add both a creaminess and some protein.

Celery or red bell pepper – Either of these will add a crunchy texture to the salad along with a pop of color from the red bell peppers.

Sunflower Seeds or Nuts – Sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts can add another crunchy element along with a nutty flavor.

Pickles or Pickle Relish – The briny flavor of pickles pairs well with the ingredients in this pea salad recipe.

Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt – Lighten the creaminess with a combination of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Vinegar – Balsamic vinegar is used in this recipe but feel free to use a different vinegar such as white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Dijon Mustard – A dollop of Dijon would add a little more tang to the salad.

Seasonings & herbs – Try adding garlic powder or fresh herbs like dill, chive, basil tarragon or parsley to enhance the flavors of the salad.

Mom’s Easy Pea Salad

Mom’s Easy Pea Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A wonderfully easy, hearty salad with peas, sweet onions and cheddar cheese for a refreshing and flavorful combination of textures and tastes.


  • 2 16 oz or 4 cups of fresh or frozen peas, lightly blanched if fresh; thawed if frozen
  • ½-¾ cup mayo, start with 1/2 cup and add more if you need it
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup small-diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or cut into very small pieces
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Place peas in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, mix together mayo, vinegar, sugar and sweet onion. Add dressing to peas and gently but thoroughly mix together.
  3. Add cheese and gently mix in. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  4. Serve immediately or leave in fridge for up to 12 hours before serving.


    1. Frozen peas can be used directly without the need for cooking.
    2. Add 2 large hard-boiled eggs chopped, if desired.
    3. Try adding chunks of cheddar instead of shredded.
    4. If frozen peas, simply rinse with cold water until defrosted.
    5. Store for up to 3 days in an air tight container, in the fridge.
    6. This version is vegetarian but you could also easily make it vegan.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 299mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Kristy Bernardo
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Sunday 28th of May 2017

I made this using one can of peas and an equal amount of celery for crunch. I used a splash more balsamic vinegar and sugar, and also added garlic and onion powder, and dill. For cheese I used diced sharp cheddar. It was fantastic!! Thank you!

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 12th of June 2017

So awesome! Thanks, Natalie!


Thursday 30th of June 2016

I've been looking for a pea salad recipe, and this one looks better thank any other I've seen. Many thanks!

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 18th of July 2016

I'm so glad, BBJ! Cheers :)


Thursday 12th of May 2016

Did you use white balsamic for this recipe? I used the regular one and my dressing turned a purplish/brown color. Not like the picture. Please advise.

Kristy Bernardo

Thursday 12th of May 2016

Hi Marcy, I use regular balsamic just as you did. There's only 1 tablespoon and that small amount will very slightly change the color of the dressing but it definitely doesn't turn it brown. I'm wondering if you used a different amount? Hope you enjoyed the flavor! Cheers :)


Monday 18th of May 2015

This looks lovely! I love the crispness of peas but have never had them in a salad, I'll have to try soon. Perfect for spring!

Kristy Bernardo

Thursday 21st of May 2015

You'll love this one, Anna!

Kate Diethood

Friday 15th of May 2015

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best!! I LOVE "Mom's recipes"!! And they never taste quite as awesome as when that Mom makes them. :)

Kristy Bernardo

Sunday 17th of May 2015

I completely agree, Kate! Have a great day :-)

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