BLT Pasta Salad is the ultimate way to bring greens to a party while maintaining your dignity.
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Although I certainly appreciate a green salad at any social gathering (a reason I stacked my cookbook with a collection of hearty, satisfying salads you can feel confident bringing to any party), I recognize that arriving with a giant container of baby spinach won’t win you the kind of love and admiration showered upon the person who shows up with the Pepperoni Pasta Salad or the Ramen Salad.
There’s something about pasta that just makes “salad” feel 100% cookout approved.
BLT pasta salad offers the best of both worlds: it tastes naughty enough to earn potluck praise but is healthy enough to feel good about your second (and third) helping.
With smoky, salty bacon, juicy, plump cherry tomatoes, and a creamy, herby ranch dressing, this tried and true BLT pasta salad is guaranteed to send you home from any gathering with an empty bowl and list of guests requesting the recipe.
5 Star Review
“This recipe is just outstanding! Everyone loved it. My only mistake was not doubling it so we’d have leftovers”— Jaimie —
How to Make BLT Pasta Salad
While not all pasta salads are nutritious, if you make your pasta salad with whole grains, limit the heavy ingredients, and incorporate fresh vegetables, pasta salad can be good for you!
As with all of my healthy pasta recipes, I use sneaky swaps to lighten up this pasta salad (the dressing is made without mayo!), without compromising flavor.
- Bacon. Let’s kick off BLT pasta salad with the “B!” It’s the smoky, crispy star and makes this pasta salad a sure hit. Baked Bacon and Air Fryer Bacon are two easy ways to cook it.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Ripe and juicy, they add summery brightness. As a bonus, cherry tomatoes taste good year-round, so you can enjoy this BLT pasta salad even if it’s not peak tomato season.
- Romaine Lettuce. I swapped the BLT classic iceberg lettuce (which never fails to remind me of soggy crackers) for a mix of nutrient-dense spinach and crunchy romaine.
- Pasta. I opted for whole grain pasta, which provides fiber and makes the BLT pasta more filling too.
For cold pasta salads, typically you should rinse the pasta prior to mixing it with the other ingredients. This stops the pasta’s cooking and keeps it from clumping together so that you can easily stir it with the other ingredients.
When pasta is cooked and drained, it is coated with a starchy liquid. The starch is important for some hot pastas—it’s key for creating a glossy sauce in Pasta al Limone, for example—but for cold pasta salads like Shrimp Pasta Salad and the Modern Macaroni salad in my cookbook, you want to rinse that starch away.
- Herby Ranch Sauce. This is BLT pasta salad no mayo! Instead, I made a Greek yogurt-based dressing. It’s creamy, zesty, and gives this pasta salad an all-American flavor.
- Cook, drain, and rinse the pasta. Place it in a large serving bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing.
- Pour it over the noodles and stir to coat. Add the bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Stir to combine. Enjoy!
What to Serve with BLT Pasta Salad
While it can certainly be a main dish all on its own, here are a few ideas of what goes well with this pasta salad:
- Veggie Burgers. Serve it as a side dish to accompany Mediterranean Quinoa Burgers.
- Chicken. As a main course topped with Crockpot Shredded Chicken.
- Ribs. Serve this dish with Instant Pot Ribs for the ultimate crowd-pleasing meal.
- To Store. This cold pasta salad will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. To keep pasta salad from drying out when you know you will have leftovers, make a little extra dressing (or reserve some at the beginning), then stir it in just before serving.
- To Freeze. I do not recommend freezing pasta salad, as the noodles will become mushy and the dressing will lose its flavor when thawed.
Meal Prep Tip
Cook and chop the bacon up to 1 day in advance. Store in the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Sauce Pan. The sauce pans from this set have 2 layers of stainless steel for fast heating.
- Measuring Cups. Microwave and dishwasher safe.
- Sheet Pan. Aluminum sheet pan perfect for roasting vegetables AND baking cookies.
BLT pasta salad tastes great either cold or at room temperature, so you can set it and forget it at your next gathering.
Well, if a giant bowl of bacony, herby, creamy pasta goodness is the sort of thing you are capable of forgetting!
Me? I’ll be hovering by the dish, waiting to swoop in for my next round!
BLT Pasta Salad
For the BLT Pasta Salad
- 6 ounces thick-cut bacon cooked (about 4 slices)*
- 8 ounces fusilli or similar 100% whole wheat pasta, or gluten-free brown rice pasta
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes halved (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups lightly packed chopped romaine about 3 ounces
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach about 2 ounces
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives plus additional to garnish
For the Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons nonfat milk or milk of choice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dillweed
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 to 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- If necessary, cook the bacon according to one of my easy methods listed below. When cool enough to handle, cut into chunky, bite-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander, then rinse under cold water to stop its cooking. Shake off as much water as possible, then place it in a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the ranch dressing: Greek yogurt, milk, olive oil, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, dillweed, salt, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire. Pour over the noodles, then toss to coat.
- Gently fold in the cherry tomatoes, romaine, spinach, 3 tablespoons chives, and reserved bacon. Sprinkle with additional chives for garnish. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve right away, at room temperature, or chilled.
- *Easy bacon cooking methods: Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon.
- TO STORE. This cold pasta salad will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. To keep pasta salad from drying out when you know you will have leftovers, make a little extra dressing (or reserve some at the beginning), then stir it in just before serving.
- TO FREEZE. I do not recommend freezing pasta salad, as the noodles will become mushy and the dressing will lose its flavor when thawed.
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