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Layered Pea Salad: Potluck Salad

This Pea Salad is a blast from the past! Enjoy making this simple party staple that everyone will enjoy. It’s layered with crispy-crunchy veggies, smoky bacon, cheeses, eggs, a flavorful dressing, and more! This flexible salad can be made just the way you like it and is a welcome addition to any picnic table!

7 layer pea salad in an individual trifle

A layered pea salad is a popular retro salad that housewives in the 70’s served, my mom included. Turns out, even today, it’s a great salad for BBQs, potlucks, or any type of gathering. It’s great to make ahead up to 24 hours in advance to take the pressure off on the day of a party. Just dollop the dressing and the bacon on the day you are going to serve it.

What is a pea salad?

It’s a traditional layered salad composed of typical salad ingredients, similar to what you’d find in a cobb salad, but instead of everything being tossed together, it’s layered in a tall glass dish, so each individual layer can be seen on display. It’s a great way to use up whatever veggies you have in the fridge because you’re not confined to using what’s listed in the recipe. This salad is definitely flexible which makes this simple salad even easier.

I put the bacon on the top because I like it to stay extra crunchy. Truth be told, however, that as long as you have the lettuce on the bottom and the dressing on the top, the order of the layers is totally up to you.

This refreshing, crunchy, and crispy Pea Salad with bacon is best when served ice cold. The creamy dressing with hints of lemon and parmesan makes it a popular request to bring for potlucks. The lettuce and vegetables are super crunchy because the dressing, which has had a chance to sit and impart flavors on itself, is tossed at the last minute.

Enjoy this very tasty Southern classic and be prepared to be asked to make it again and again!

Ingredients in small bowls to make pea salad

What goes into this 7 layered pea salad with bacon?

  • Thick cut bacon – Thick cut pieces won’t get lost in the shuffle and will add a nice texture. Maple bacon will add a hint of sweetness.
  • Iceberg – Romaine also works. Rinsed, dried, and chopped.
  • Small tomatoes – Cut in half. Grape tomatoes will work. Cherry tomatoes have higher water content, but they will also do the trick, as well as chopping up your own homegrown tomatoes.
  • Green peas – Frozen and thawed. Canned peas are too mushy to hold their own.
  • Hardboiled eggs – Cut in half, chopped or sliced crosswise.
  • Shredded cheddar – Freshly grated from a block is always preferred!

FOR THE DRESSING

  • Mayonnaise & Sour cream – The creamy basis for this delicious dressing.
  • Lemon juice – A squeeze of fresh lemon juice will give it the zesty citrus flavor it needs to brighten it up.
  • Chives – A wonderful herb that pairs well with the flavors of sour cream, garlic, and Parmesan.
  • Garlic clove – Grated on a Microplane.
  • Salt & pepper – To taste and to enhance the flavors of everything combined.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated from a block is preferred, when possible.

Tips To Make this Cookout Side a Success: 

  • Use a glass bowl, or trifle dish so you can see the layers. Don’t have one? You could make individual ones in a mason jar which is also a great meal prep idea.
  • The dressing is better the longer it has time to meld. You can make that up to a week ahead of time and it only gets better.
  • When layering the salad, the edges by the glass should have a little extra to really define the layers.
  • Notice in the photos above how the center is mostly lettuce, with the other ingredients placed on the glass to see the layers.
  • You want to use iceberg or romaine because they are really crunchy and won’t wilt as easily underneath all of the layers.
  • You can layer the eggs like I have in the photo or you can make it easy just add a layer of chopped eggs. Make it as you want!
  • Once the salad is tossed it must be eaten right away. This way the texture of the vegetables remains crunchy. When there are leftovers, add a little fresh lettuce to help give it the crunch.
  • If you are making this salad up to 24 hours ahead of time, only layer it up to the dressing. The remaining bacon I add right before serving.
  • It’s easy to make individual servings in small glass bowls or trifle bowls too (see photo below!)
individual servings of Pea salad
Make Individual Servings in Dessert Trifles dishes.

What Else Can I add to the Layers?

While my mom made it with the ingredients I have listed, you can sub just about any of them. Some optional layer ideas:

  • Ham
  • Salami
  • Macaroni
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Red onions
  • Carrots
  • Pepperoncini
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Green onions
  • Turkey
  • Blue cheese or a ranch dressing

Common Questions

How do I get the perfect hardboiled egg?

When serving guests you definitely want to try your best to avoid the grey area around the yolk. To get a perfectly hard-boiled egg, place your eggs in a pot and cover them with water. Some people find adding a bit of vinegar to the water makes it easier to peel the shell later on. Place on the stove over high heat to bring to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, cover with a lid, remove from the heat and let it sit for 12 minutes. Once time is up, drain eggs, run them under cold water, drain, and allow them to cool.

Do you toss the salad before serving?

No! The reason for the layers is so that every serving gets a bit of everything. The idea is to “dig in.” Using a long spoon, everyone can reach deep down and gather up their little portion. Once the salad is on your plate, then you’re welcome to toss and enjoy.

More Cookout Sides or Potluck Salads you may enjoy

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Yield: 8

Pea Salad- 7 Layer Salad

side view of the 7 layers of salad

This 7 layer pea salad is an easy to make and often requested salad for potlucks and summer bbq's. Layers of ice cold crunchy vegetables and lettuce with a cool creamy lemon parmesan dressing.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon
  • 1 large head iceberg or romaine lettuce (rinsed, dried, and chopped)
  • 1 pint small tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 2 cups frozen green peas (thawed)
  • 8 large hardboiled eggs
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Salad Dressing

  • 1 cups mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon to really crisp then chop it to small bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. Make the dressing so it has time to meld. Mix the mayo, lemon juice, sour cream, salt, pepper, chives and garlic. Stir to mix well and let chill in fridge in a sealed container.
  3. Rinse and dry the lettuce then chop into small bite sized pieces. Place in the bottom of a straight sided glass bowl or trifle dish
  4. Rinse the tomatoes, cut in half and lay in an even layer accross the top of the lettuce. Make sure to build up the edge closest the the glass so the layer is very evident.
  5. Next layer the frozen peas on top of the tomatoes.
  6. On top of the peas, you will layer chopped hardboiled eggs. Start at the edge by the glass making sure the edge is easily seen in the glass, then place the remaining in the center to make a complete layer.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the eggs..
  8. If you are making this ahead of time, make the salad to here, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  9. On the day you are serving the salad, remove the plastic and spoon the dressing over the top evenly creating a full layer.
  10. Finally Sprinkle the crunchy bacon on the top. You can wrap in plastic and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
  11. When ready to serve people can dig in and toss onto their own plates.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 669mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 15g

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. Please calculate your own nutritional information if you want it exact to what you make and use my calculations as a guide only.

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