This pea salad with bacon recipe has the most delicious chipotle dressing that's a fun twist on this southern American classic!
Bacon pea salad is a fixture at summer potlucks, BBQs, and gatherings. There's tons of recipes for it online, so I decided to make my version just a little bit different. It still has bacon, cheddar, and a creamy dressing, but I decided to add some adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chili peppers) to give it a smoky southwest flavor. I also added in a bit of smoked paprika to the dressing to enhance that smoky flavor even more. Smoked paprika is one of my favorite ingredients to keep in my pantry. I use it in so many recipes, and, to me, it's an improvement over regular paprika.
This creamy pea salad with bacon has minimal ingredients, so it's a great salad to make ahead and refrigerate for when you need it. I'd say that making it up to a day ahead is fine (I'd make it before bed and keep it in the fridge overnight). If you're worried about the bacon going a bit soft, you can simply add it just before serving.
This classic pea salad isn't too spicy if you're wondering about that. You can definitely add more of the adobo sauce than I suggest if you do want to make it spicy, though.
Can I use canned peas in this cold green pea salad?
If you're in a pinch, you can use canned peas in this recipe, but I don't recommend it. The salad will be more mushy and canned peas tend to have a color that isn't as appealing.
Do I cook the peas first?
No. Simply let the peas thaw for a bit.
What is adobo sauce?
Chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce (usually sold in small cans in the Mexican section of grocery stores) are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated and canned in a sweet and tangy purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and other spices.
Bacon and pea salad recipe notes:
- If you prefer, you can use low-fat mayo, or do a half mayo, half Greek yogurt combo for the dressing.
- You can leave the adobo sauce out if you don't want that southwest flavor.
- You can use cubes of cheddar vs. shredded cheddar if you prefer. Or try Monterey Jack or Colby-Jack cheese if you want some more kick.
- Instead of red onion, you could use sweet onion or scallions if you have them in your fridge.
Have you ever made a creamy pea salad?
Questions? Let me know in the comments!
Pea Salad with Bacon
- 6 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 2 pounds frozen peas thawed
- 1/2 small red onion chopped
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup mayo
- 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce or to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Add your peas to a colander and rinse them under cool water. Let them drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon. I cut it up using kitchen shears to make this process easy. Once it's done, drain the fat.
Make the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mixing until it's smooth. I suggest playing with the ingredients to get the exact flavor combo you want (e.g. more adobo sauce or lemon juice etc.).
Add all ingredients to a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Season with salt & pepper as needed. I recommend chilling for an hour or so before serving to let the flavors meld a bit.
- The adobo sauce is from canned chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce.
- This dressing isn't too spicy as written, but feel free to add more adobo sauce to kick up the heat.
- I used thick-cut bacon. You may want to go up to 8 strips if you're using regular bacon.