Side Dishes

BLT Pasta Salad

Rotini noodles, chopped tomato, lettuce and bacon all in a creamy white dressing in a large serving bowl. Garnished with chopped scallions in the center.
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A barbecue cookout is not complete without a great pasta salad. Grilled meat and pasta salad go together like spaghetti and meatballs – am I right? Everyone needs a great pasta salad recipe and this BLT Pasta Salad recipe is going to be your summertime dinner best friend.

BLT Pasta Salad a combination of sweet and salty with a hint of freshness from juicy tomatoes and crunchy lettuce. The creamy dressing gets its richness from a combination of mayo and sour cream and its sweetness from a pinch of sugar. But the real star of the flavor is the seasoned salt. If you don’t keep this seasoning in your pantry already let me tell you that it’s time you start. Use it in dressings, to season meat or even sprinkle it on chopped vegetables before you roast them in the oven. Seasoned salt will bring otherwise ordinary dishes to whole new level.

The best part about a great pasta salad? Pasta salad is easy to make. In just 20 minutes you have a hearty and delicious side dish that everyone will love. Seriously, this pasta salad is one you won’t be able to pass up.

About the Ingredients

Pasta – You want a noodle that will hold some of the dressing and ingredients but isn’t so big and bulky that it drowns out the other flavors. Small shells or elbows, orecchiette, rotini or bow-ties are great for pasta salads.

Chopped vegetables – lettuce and tomato. I like the lettuce to have some crunch so I use the stem end of a head of romaine. Slice off the base and cut from the bottom of the head about 1/2 way up, then chop. Reserve the leaves for a green salad some other time.

Bacon – Cook the bacon first and then chop it small. I cook my bacon in the oven on a rimmed baking tray. Lay the bacon flat on the tray and put it in a cold oven. Set the oven to 375°F and time it for 18 minutes. Perfect bacon every time.

Salad dressing – mayonnaise, sour cream, seasoned salt, dehydrated onion and sugar.

Rotini noodles, chopped tomato, lettuce and bacon all in a creamy white dressing in a large serving bowl. Garnished with chopped scallions in the center.

How to Make BLT Pasta Salad

Cook the Pasta

Begin by cooking the pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to keep an eye on the pot because you want it cooked perfectly al dente. When it’s done cooking, drain it in a colander and rinse it under cold water. This will lower the temperature of the pasta to prepare it for the dressing and remove any of the starch so your pasta doesn’t get clumpy and gummy.

Chop the Vegetables and Bacon

While the pasta cooks, chop the lettuce, tomato and bacon.

Mix up the Dressing

In a small bowl (I absolutely love these little Kitchen Aid Prep Bowls for things like this) combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk it all together to form a creamy consistent dressing.

Toss the Salad

Combine the pasta, vegetables and dressing in a large serving bowl. You can either cover your BLT Pasta Salad and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it or simply leave it at room temperature if you’re serving it soon.

Rotini noddles, chopped tomato, bacon and lettuce all in a creamy white dressing on a bronze fork held above a serving bowl of pasta salad.

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

Make It A Main Dish

This BLT Pasta Salad is so hearty and delicious that you might just want to make it your entire meal (especially leftovers for lunch!) Try adding some Italian Seasoned Chicken Breast to turn this side salad recipe into a main dish.

Other Mix-ins

BLT Pasta Salad can be made with lots of different mix-ins and still taste great so feel free to experiment and veer off the recipe a little. Try any combination of these ingredients to change up your salad game:

  • avocado
  • sweet peas
  • roasted red peppers
  • sweet corn
  • chopped red onion
  • cheddar cheese

Make Ahead Instructions

I love a side dish that isn’t served hot, especially for a summer dinner. You can make this salad completely ahead of time and no one would ever know the difference. Serve it at room temperature or cold straight from the refrigerator.

To make BLT Pasta Salad ahead of time simply follow the recipe as written with one minor exception and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it. The only catch is that the pasta may absorb some of your dressing and the salad could get a little dry. To combat this simply reserve 1/2 the salad dressing in a small container and refrigerate it separately. Mix in the reserved dressing just before serving.

Rotini noodles, chopped tomato, lettuce and bacon all in a creamy white dressing in a large serving bowl. Garnished with chopped scallions in the center.

FAQ’s and Recipe Tips

What are the five mistakes to avoid pasta salad?

1) Adding the dressing too soon before serving. Pasta will absorb dressing and your salad will be dry.
2) Not waiting for the pasta to cool slightly before adding the dressing. Warm pasta will absorb the flavor of your dressing nicely. Hot pasta will turn a creamy dressy runny.
3) Too much dressing. You don’t want your salad swimming in dressing so add a little at a time. You can always add more later.
4) Picking the right pasta shape. You want a noodle that will hold some of the dressing and ingredients but isn’t so big and bulky that it drowns out the other flavors.
5) Over or undercooking the pasta. Mushy or crunchy pasta are terrible textures for pasta salad. Keep a close eye on the boiling pasta and use a timer.

Is it better to make pasta salad the night before?

Not necessarily. You certainly can but reserve some of the dressing to add just before serving. The longer the pasta salad sits, the more it will dry out.

What happens if you forget to rinse the pasta in cold water?

The starch released from the pasta will make the noodles stick to one another and form large clumps. It will also create a gummy coating on the pasta.

Should you run pasta under cold water for pasta salad?

Only if the pasta is being served cold. Never rinse pasta that is being served hot.

The Recipe for BLT Pasta Salad

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought. Serve your BLT Pasta Salad alongside Beer Can Chicken on the Grill to complete your meal. Enjoy!

Rotini noodles, chopped tomato, lettuce and bacon all in a creamy white dressing in a large serving bowl. Garnished with chopped scallions in the center.

BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad a combination of sweet and salty with a hint of freshness from juicy tomatoes and crunchy lettuce. The creamy dressing gets its richness from a combination of mayo and sour cream and its sweetness from a pinch of sugar. The best part is how easy it is to make. In just 20 minutes you have a hearty and delicious side dish that everyone will love. Seriously, this pasta salad is one you won't be able to pass up.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce chopped
  • 4 slices bacon cooked and chopped

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp season salt
  • 2 tsp dehydrated onion
  • tsp sugar

Garnish

  • 2 scallions chopped

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
    8 oz pasta
  • Chop the lettuce, tomatoes and and bacon.
    1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/2 head romaine lettuce, 4 slices bacon
  • Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
    1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 tsp season salt, 2 tsp dehydrated onion, 1½ tsp sugar
  • In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and dressing. Garnish with chopped scallions.
    2 scallions

Notes

Make Ahead: Follow the recipe as written but reserve 1/2 the salad dressing in a small container and refrigerate it separately. Mix in the reserved dressing just before serving.
Keyword barbecue, pasta, salad

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