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Ham and pea salad with cheddar cheese is a tasty and satisfying side dish that’s quick and easy to prepare. Tossed with a creamy dressing that perfectly complements the sweetness of the peas and the sharpness of the cheese, this classic pea salad recipe is also a great way to use up leftover ham.
Also known as English Pea Salad or Southern Pea Salad, the recipe is easy to make and the perfect side dish for a holiday meal, summer barbeque, baby shower, picnic, potluck, or any occasion. For more great side summer salads try my red skinned potato salad, broccoli salad with bacon and cheddar or cold pasta salad recipe.
This creamy pea salad is sure to be a hit with the whole family – sweet peas, savory ham, and sharp cheese all make for a delicious combination of flavors. The recipe reminds me of an incredible Amish pea salad that I had out in Lancaster County Pennslyvania.
Ham and Pea Salad Ingredients
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Cooked ham – leftover ham from Easter or Christmas is perfect for this recipe.
- Frozen peas – frozen sweet peas, thawed and drained. Look for petite green peas or petite peas if your grocery store has them. If not, regular frozen peas are fine, too.
- Cheddar cheese – I like to use cubed sharp cheddar cheese for this simple side dish but feel free to use shredded cheese or your favorite cheese if you prefer. Blue cheese crumbles, colby jack, pepper jack, and swiss are all great options.
- Red onion – adds flavor but can be replaced with sliced green onion or even omitted if you don’t like the taste of onions.
- Dressing ingredients – mayo, sour cream, fresh dill, seasonings, and a little bit of sugar create the perfect creamy dressing for our green pea salad with ham.
- Large mixing bowl
- Chopping board
- Serving bowl and serving spoon
How to make Ham and Pea Salad
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Add dressing ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Step 2: Add the remaining ingredients and stir to coat everything in the dressing.
Step 3: Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours. Give the salad a stir before serving to redistribute the dressing and enjoy!
In the refrigerator: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
In the freezer: I do not recommend freezing pea salad.
Additions and Variations
- Swap the ham. Not a fan of ham? Use chopped bacon or bacon bits instead.
- Use fresh peas. Fresh English garden peas can be used. Just blanch them quickly first.
- Add more veggies. Trying adding some broccoli, bell pepper, cauliflower, and/or matchstick carrots. Just make sure to add more dressing or use fewer peas.
- Add hard-boiled eggs. Chopped hard-boiled eggs make a delicious addition to this cold pea salad.
- Use bottled dressing. Looking for a super easy ham and pea salad recipe? Use ranch dressing instead of making a homemade dressing to make this easy recipe even easier.
Expert tips & tricks
- Don’t skip chilling. It is necessary to allow time for the flavor to blend together, plus the delicious pea salad is best enjoyed very cold.
- Prep ahead. Make the easy pea and ham salad a day or two in advance of when you want to serve it and it’ll still taste great. The flavors are even better once they have more time to come together.
- Stir before serving. Give the pea salad a good stir immediately before serving because some of the dressing may have settled on the bottom of the bowl.
Ham Salad FAQ
The best way to thaw frozen peas is to run them under cold water; it should only take a minute or two. Avoid using hot water to thaw frozen peas as this can cause them to become mushy and lose their flavor.
While you technically could use them, I do not recommend canned peas for this ham and pea salad recipe. Canned peas do not have the same texture and crispness as frozen peas and can cause the salad to be mushy.
More great side dish recipes for the summer months
Ham and Pea Salad
For the dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons dry ranch seasoning
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad
- 36 ounces frozen peas thawed
- 2 cups cubed cooked ham
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese cubed
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch seasoning, fresh dill, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Add the thawed peas, ham, cheese, and red onion, and stir to coat everything in the dressing.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Stir before serving and serve cold.