Bacon, sweet summer tomatoes, and crisp lettuce are tossed with tender pasta that has been coated with a rich dressing for a perfect spin on a classic BLT sandwich. BLT Pasta Salad is a delicious, flavorful, hearty pasta salad filled with all the traditional flavors of a BLT.
BLTs are the quintessential summer dish--at least at my house. Salty bacon paired with fresh, juicy tomatoes and a crunch of perfectly toasted bread. MMM, perfection!
To turn this classic sandwich into a pasta salad is just GENIUS!!
This BLT Pasta Salad is also easier to prepare than traditional BLT sandwiches. This pasta salad can be prepared in one large serving bowl instead of the tedious task of preparing each sandwich on its own. It also can be made in advance--which is a no can do with a BLT in sandwich form, unless you want soggy bread.
Bottom line, this pasta salad is unique, delicious, and always the first dish to disappear at gatherings.
- Pasta: Any noodle with curves or ridges (like rotini, corkscrew, campanelle, or cavatelli) works well. This helps the dressing and the toppings of the pasta salad to be present in every bite. Feel free to use whole wheat, regular, or even gluten-free pasta.
- Bacon: You can't have BLT without bacon! Thick-cut bacon is best so that it really adds heartiness and chew to the pasta salad.
- Lettuce: Iceberg or hearts of Romaine lettuce are best to add crispness to this dish and stand up well to the dressing--meaning it will not wilt as quickly once dressed.
- Tomatoes: The riper the tomato, the better the taste. If you have vine-ripened tomatoes, use those when in season, but be sure to de-seed and finely chop to prevent the pasta salad from becoming watery. I personally opt to use cherry or grape tomatoes, as they are easy to find year-round and do not need to be deseeded before adding the dish.
- Mayonnaise: Use low-fat or full-fat mayonnaise to form the base of the dressing. Fat-free mayo is full of sugar and additives that take away from the taste of this salad.
How to make BLT Pasta Salad
- Pan-fry or bake bacon, being sure to reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon grease for the salad dressing. I much prefer baking bacon as it is hands-off and involves less clean-up than pan-frying bacon. Plus the bacon can be baking while I cook the pasta and prepare the remaining ingredients.
- While the bacon is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
- Cook the pasta noodles according to package directions in the boiling water.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta, but DO NOT rinse your pasta! This causes the pasta to lose flavor and the starch that helps the dressing adhere to the noodles. Let the pasta cool before tossing with the remaining ingredients.
- Cool pasta to room temperature before tossing with remaining ingredients. Pro Tip: Cool your pasta quickly by spreading out on a large sheet pan and placing it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooling, chop up lettuce, tomatoes, and cooked bacon.
- Whisk together the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, reserved bacon grease, sugar, vinegar, and shallots together.
- Toss the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, cooled pasta, chopped chives, and dressing, and toss well.
- You can serve immediately, or let sit in the refrigerator up to 12 hours before serving.
Tips for Serving Safely
BLT Pasta Salad is delicious served slightly warm or can be refrigerated completely assembled for up to 24 hours before serving.
To make this BLT salad versatile for an outdoor gathering, as it does contain mayo, nestle your serving bowl on top of a larger serving bowl that has been filled with ice or ice packs. This will keep bacteria from growing for at least 2 hours--probably much longer, especially if you switch out your ice or ice pack.
MORE SUMMER POTLUCK FAVORITES
Filled with bacon, tomatoes, and lettuce, this pasta salad is sure to be a hit! I hope you give it a try and let me know in the comments if you loved this BLT Pasta Salad as much as my family does.
BLT Pasta Salad
- 1 pound campanelle pasta or corkscrew/rotini noodles work
- 1 head of romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 pound bacon
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and cool the pasta completely. Speed up this process by spreading the pasta onto a cookie sheet and tossing into the fridge.
- While pasta is cooking, dice the bacon and cook over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon of grease.
- Mix together bacon drippings, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss the dressing, cooked and cooled pasta, chives, tomatoes, lettuce, and bacon bits together until evenly distributed.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving.
- To make this BLT salad versatile for an outdoor gathering, nestle your serving bowl on top of a larger serving bowl that has been filled with ice or ice packs.
- If the thought of bacon grease scares you, just omit it!
- I used nitrate-free organic pork bacon, but any bacon (even turkey bacon) will work.
- To make this a Gluten-Free BLT Pasta Salad, use gluten free pasta.
- If you happen to have garden fresh roma tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, you can use in place of cherry tomatoes--just seed them first to prevent the pasta salad from becoming watered down.
- I do use granulated sugar in the dresssing. Honey will work, but I really like the sweetness without any added taste that comes from honey or maple syrup.
- I used romaine lettuce because that is my preferred green in a BLT sandwich, but iceberg or green leaf lettuce works well too.