If you love BLTs you will love this recipe for BLT Pasta Salad! Made with crispy bacon, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, tender pasta, and rich dressing, BLT Pasta Salad perfectly mimics the flavors of a classic BLT sandwich in pasta salad form.
Inspired by a classic BLT sandwich, this unforgettable pasta salad is made with crispy bacon, sweet tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and a rich creamy dressing. Talk about genius!
Not only is BLT Pasta Salad insanely delicious, but it is also the most requested potluck side dish ever. I think it goes without saying that any dish with bacon is the first to disappear at a party and this pasta salad not only features bacon, but is unexpected, yet delivers classic flavors that people know and love. It is simply a favorite--and pretty simple to make as well!
Whether taking this dish to a party or serving it with homemade burgers, you need this BLT Pasta Salad in your life. It is just too good to pass up!
Notes on Ingredients
- Pasta: Any noodle with curves or ridges will work for this pasta salad. Those curves and ridges will help to catch the dressing and ensure every bite is flavorful. Use regular, whole wheat, or gluten-free noodles such as rotini, corkscrew, or cavatelli.
- 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: I recommend using hearts of romaine lettuce for this pasta salad. It adds crispness to this dish and stands up well to the dressing.
- 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 to 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
This pasta salad comes together in four easy steps: Cook the pasta, fry the bacon, mix together the dressing, and toss it all together. It is more efficient to fry the bacon while the pasta is cooking and whisk together the dressing and chop up the lettuce and tomatoes while the bacon and pasta are cooling. By doing this, the components of the pasta salad are ready at the same time, meaning less time overall in the kitchen.
Step One: Prepare Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
- Season the boiling water with salt--this will help to flavor the pasta. Then add in the noodles to the seasoned boiling water and cook according to the package directions.
- 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 it with the remaining ingredients. Pro Tip: Cool your pasta quickly by spreading out on a large rimmed sheet pan and placing it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Step Two: Prepare the Bacon
While the water is coming to a boil for the pasta, use this time to either pan-fry or bake bacon. Either option works great. Baking bacon is hands-off and pan-frying the bacon is slightly faster. It is also a great method when the summer temps are just too hot to turn on the oven! Keep in mind regardless of the method of baking you use, you will want to reserve some bacon drippings for the dressing.
- To bake the bacon, lay the bacon slices out onto a baking rack fitted over a rimmed sheet pan. Bake at 400 degrees F, until crispy and browned. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the sheet pan for the dressing. Then let the bacon cool on a paper-towel-lined plate. Once cooled, dice up into bite-sized pieces.
- To pan-fry the bacon, dice up the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Pan-fry the bacon over medium-high heat, until brown and crispy. Remove the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to use in the pasta salad dressing.
Step Three: Prepare Dressing and Vegetables
While the pasta and bacon finish cooking, use that time to wash, dry, and chop your lettuce, chives, and tomatoes for the pasta salad. While the pasta and bacon are cooling, use that time to whisk together the BLT pasta salad dressing.
- For the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, reserved bacon drippings, sugar, vinegar, and shallots together. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Step Four: Assemble BLT Pasta Salad
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the Toss the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, cooled pasta, chopped chives, and dressing, and toss well.
Step Five: Serve
I said this pasta salad came together in four easy steps, not five! But the fifth step really doesn't count as work. It is simply serving this delicious bacon lettuce tomato pasta salad that will win you rave reviews!
You can serve BLT Pasta Salad immediately after assembling, for a slightly warm pasta salad. Or chill for 30 minutes before serving, which is my recommendation. This will allow the flavors to marry together a bit better and enhance the flavor.
Tips for Serving Safely
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
Just like my recipe for Potato Salad with Bacon and Baked Beans with Bacon, this recipe for BLT Pasta Salad is always a hit! People just love bacon 😉 Of course, you can never have too many dishes at a potluck or picnic. Below are a few more favorites.
If you tried this recipe for BLT Pasta Salad, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
BLT Pasta Salad
- 1 pound corkscrew noodles
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 head hearts of romaine lettuce chopped
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 3 tablespoons chives minced
- 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. Once the pasta has been cooked, drain, DO NOT RINSE, and cool the pasta completely. You can speed the process up by spreading the cooked pasta onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- While the pasta is cooking, dice the bacon into ½-inch strips and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp and browned. Remove the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to use in the pasta salad dressing.
- In a small bowl, mix together the reserved bacon drippings, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and salt for the pasta salad dressing.
- 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.
This post was originally published in 2018 but has been updated in 2022.