If you’re looking for a fun and oh-so-pretty pasta salad for a gathering, you’ve found yourself in a great spot. This pasta salad is very versatile — you can use any shape of pasta you like. You can add in avocados or grilled corn kernels, or maybe even cubed, cooked chicken for a more robust main course.
If you’re using it as a side, BLT Pasta Salad goes really well with whatever you’re firing up on the grill, whether that be grilled salmon, BBQ chicken, or even a NY strip steak. It’s the perfect side — providing both starch and veggies, studded with ample amounts of bacon and juicy ripe tomatoes, with just the right amount of acidity, which brightens up everything.
BLT Pasta Salad: Bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes meet pasta salad in one of the most robust, prettiest, and cheeriest side dishes of the season.Tweet This
- Pasta – Any short chunky pasta will be great. Try bow tie pasta, ziti, rigatoni, gemelli, fusilli, small shells, penne rigate, or other small-shaped pasta. Make sure to cook the pasta thoroughly; tender pasta makes the best pasta salad.
- Bacon – Ten strips, please, don’t skimp! Buy the best bacon you can find.
- Lettuce – More than a few people might cock an eyebrow when they see lettuce in this pasta salad. My general response is to hold up a hand gently and say, “Hey, give it a try.” (Also, in my family, scooping up some salad with a bite of pasta is just a perfect forkful.) The lettuce wilts a bit in the hot pan used to cook the bacon and softens slightly more in the dressing, but it still provides some nice crunch.
- Tomatoes – Use whatever ripe tomatoes you can get your hands on. I used multi-colored cherry tomatoes because that’s what I had. I love how they add instant cherry color to the dish. You can use any color of cherry or grape tomatoes, or you can use seeded and diced larger tomatoes. Just make sure they’re ripe since they’re the star of the show!
- Scallions – Scallions + bacon + tomatoes = love.
- Mayonnaise – Adds that amazing creaminess (also an integral part of all the best BLTs!).
- Ranch or Caesar dressing – Dealer’s choice! Either use store-bought or go for homemade ranch or Caesar to make this salad really special.
- Milk – The milk works here to lighten and smooth out the creamy dressing.
- Lemon juice – For acidity.
- Parmesan cheese – For a sharp, nutty cheese flavor.
- Avocado – Cubes of avocado are a nice, optional addition to this salad (which I guess would be called a BLTA Pasta Salad). Make sure to cut and add the avocados right before serving so they don’t turn brown.
How to Make BLT Pasta Salad
- Cook the bacon: Cook the bacon until crispy, about 8 minutes in all. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Toss the vegetables in the pan: Pour off the excess fat from the pan, then add the tomatoes, lettuce, and scallions to the hot pan. Toss the vegetables in the pan until everything is very lightly coated with the little bit of remaining bacon grease and the lettuce wilts just a bit.
- Cook the pasta: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until tender, then drain, give it a quick rinse in cool water, and cool.
- Make the dressing: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, milk, lemon juice, Parmesan, avocado (if using), and salt and pepper.
- Add the cooled cooked pasta.
- Add the slightly warmed vegetables.
- Add the bacon: Crumble or slice the cooked bacon, and add all but about ½ cup to the bowl.
- Toss to mix.
- Serve: Top with the reserved ½ cup crumbled bacon. Serve at room temperature.
There are a few ways to cook bacon: In a pan on the stove, in the oven, or in an air fryer. With the air fryer and the oven, you don’t need to worry about bacon grease splashing everywhere. How long it takes depends on the method and the thickness. If you are using a pan, turn the bacon a few times during cooking for the most evenly crispy results. No matter what method you use, remember that the bacon will crisp up a bit as it cools, don’t overbrown it!
I like to serve BLT pasta salad at room temperature. In the most perfect world, you won’t ever refrigerate it, you’ll be able to make it shortly before serving and let it hang out at room temp for a bit (an hour or so) til you are ready to serve. This will allow the pasta to remain tender, the bacon to stay crisp, and the tomatoes to keep their delightful juiciness and texture.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
- Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Pasta Salad with Chicken, Avocado, and Tomato
- Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes
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BLT Pasta Salad
- 10 slices bacon
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
- 4 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1 pound bow tie pasta (or gemelli, fusilli, small shells, penne rigate, or other small chunky shaped pasta)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Ranch or Caesar dressing (store-bought or homemade)
- ¼ cup milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 avocado (diced; optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Line a plate with paper towels. Place the bacon in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Cook until crispy on both sides, about 8 minutes in all. Use tongs to remove the bacon to the paper towel-lined plate. Pour off the fat from the pan, then add the tomatoes, lettuce, and scallions to the hot pan. Off the heat, toss the vegetables in the warm bacon fat until everything is lightly coated with bacon grease and the lettuce wilts just a bit.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until tender. Drain the pasta, give it a quick rinse in cool water, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, milk, lemon juice, Parmesan, avocado (if using), salt, and pepper. Add the vegetables to the pan. Crumble or slice the cooked bacon, and add all but about ½ cup to the bowl. Add the cooled, cooked pasta. Toss well to thoroughly mix, and top with the reserved ½ cup crumbled bacon. Serve at room temperature.
- Cubes of avocado are a nice addition to this salad (which I guess would be called a BLTA Pasta Salad). Make sure to cut and add the avocados right before serving so they don’t turn brown.
- Giving the pasta a quick rinse in cool water after cooking helps stop the cooking and prevents the pasta from becoming gummy. You don’t want to do this with hot pasta dishes (it rinses off some of the starch, which would prevent the sauce from sticking), but it’s helpful with pasta salads.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.