With all the flavor of the sandwich, this BLT Pasta Salad Recipe is the best quick and easy side dish. Simply combine Rotini pasta, crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and creamy ranch dressing and gently toss. Bring an excellent cold pasta salad to picnics and BBQs all summer long!

A glass Pyrex bowl full of a BLT pasta salad being mixed together with a wooden spoon.

Summertime is in full swing here at the house!

In addition to Memorial Day picnics, potlucks, and Fourth of July barbecues, we spend most Summer days lounging by the river.

These fun outdoor adventures call for easy dishes that can be served cold, prepped ahead, and taken along with you.

This easy BLT pasta salad recipe is ideal!

It’s one of our family’s favorite cold pasta recipes because it is pretty easy to make and is FULL of flavor.

If you like BLT sandwiches then you’ll LOVE this recipe!

Plus, it’s a wonderful way to use up fresh homegrown tomatoes.

Fusilli pasta, Ranch dressing, mayonnaise, Romaine lettuce, and cherry tomatoes as the ingredients in a BLT Pasta Salad recipe.

Ingredients

The ingredients you will need to make this BLT pasta salad recipe are pretty easy-to-find and consist of:

  • Bacon. The key ingredient to this BACON Ranch Pasta Salad. Try to find one with no added hormones or antibiotics used. Opt for uncured bacon, as well. You can choose thick or thin strips depending on your preference. You can use turkey bacon, but the texture will be different.
  • Pasta. Look for pasta with texture like rotini. The nooks and crannies will fill with all the other tasty ingredients and dressing.
  • Lettuce. Romaine is best to use for its nutrition and crisp texture. Spinach and kale also work great and have tons of health benefits. Iceberg is the least favorable choice since it is full of primarily water and not much nutrition. (The less green, the less nutritious!)
  • Tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes are preferable in this recipe since they do not have too much tomato juice.  However, if you have some homegrown Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, feel free to finely dice those and use them instead.
  • Ranch Dressing. A good Ranch is used to make up the bulk of this pasta salad dressing. I prefer to buy Marie’s in the refrigerated aisle at our grocery store or make my own homemade ranch dressing.
  • Mayonnaise. Hellmann’s mayo made with olive oil is a great option. Feel free to use a vegan and egg-free mayonnaise if you are allergic to eggs.
  • Dijon Mustard. You can also use regular yellow mustard or spicy mustard instead.
Pasta salad with bacon, tomatoes, and Ranch dressing in a wooden bowl next to Romaine lettuce.

How to Make BLT Pasta Salad

Once you have all of your ingredients gathered, it’s actually quite simple to make a pasta salad recipe at home. Here are the simple steps to take:

Make the Dressing

If you are making your own ranch dressing, then mix it together first.

In a small bowl, combine ranch, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until everything is blended.

Set aside.

Prepare the Pasta

Prepare the pasta in a large pot of salted water and boil according to package directions. Drain, then rinse with cold water.

Let noodles cool to room temperature.

Gluten free fusilli pasta in a colander.

Toss the Noodles

Combine cooked noodles with ¾ of the dressing.

Toss together in a large bowl until the pasta is coated. Reserve the remaining ¼ of the dressing. If you don’t do this right away, the noodles will stick together.

Cook the Bacon

There are several ways you can prepare the bacon.

Air Fryer Bacon. This is the quickest and easiest method and the fastest cleanup. Cook whole strips at 350° for 9-10 minutes.

Cook it in a skillet. Cut it into small pieces and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat. 

Bacon being cooked in a ceramic skillet with a spatula stirring it.

Bacon in the Oven. Bake strips on a wire rack over a baking sheet in a 400° oven for 15-25 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of the cut.

Place the cooked bacon on a paper-towel lined plate to let drain and cool before adding to the dish.

Mix and Chill

Combine bacon, onion, and cut tomatoes with the pasta. Mix in until everything is evenly distributed.

For best taste, refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or up to overnight. This allows for all of the flavors to come together.

Just before serving, add remaining dressing and lettuce. Stir in just before serving to keep the lettuce crisp.

This BLT pasta salad can be made with just about any type of lettuce you happen to have on hand. A few of the best options include:

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Simply prepare the entire recipe as is and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. Just before serving, add additional dressing and lettuce.
  • To Store: Keep this pasta salad in a large airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for two days if you’re using gluten-free pasta, or three to four days if using regular pasta.
  • To Freeze: This is not recommended as the noodles will get soggy and lose their texture.

Food Safety Tip: Do not let this dish sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Or at temperatures above 80 degrees for more than 1 hour.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below can be adjusted to help it fit your dietary requirements. Here are some substitutions you can make:

  • Gluten-free: Make sure to use a certified gluten-free pasta.
  • Dairy-free: Select a dairy-free ranch dressing.
  • Vegetarian: Leave out the bacon.
  • Vegan: Omit the bacon and use vegan ranch and mayonnaise.
Bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes pasta salad recipe with mayonnaise and Ranch dressing next to a pint of cherry tomatoes.

FAQs

Can you make pasta salad a day in advance?

Yes pasta salad can be made in advance. In fact as it sits the flavors meld together. Save a little extra dressing to add just before serving in case the noodles have soaked it up. 
However, be cautious if using gluten-free pasta as they tend to harden up the longer they are refrigerated.

How do you keep pasta salad from sticking together?

By using enough dressing you can prevent the pasta in pasta salad from sticking together. As it sits, the pasta will absorb the dressing so you may need to add more to serve.

What pasta is best for salads?

Small pasta with lots of texture is best for salads so that the flavors are captured in each bite. Good options include rotini, penne, farfalle, and fusilli.

Should you rinse pasta for salads?

You can rinse the pasta but you don’t have to. Rinsing will prevent the pasta from completely soaking up all of the sauce.

How long does bacon pasta salad last in the fridge?

Because this pasta salad is cream-based, it will last for up to 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Choose cherry or grape tomatoes. They have a lot of flavor and aren’t too watery.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours. Give the flavors time to meld together for the best flavor.
  • Mix in lettuce last. Wait until just before serving to mix in the lettuce so it stays crisp.
  • Add avocado. This gives a nice creamy texture. Make sure to add right before serving to avoid browning.
  • Save some dressing. Drizzling on the last bit of dressing just before serving ensures the pasta hasn’t soaked it all up.

Other Pasta Salad Recipes

If you loved this pasta salad recipe, then try one of these delicious variations next:

More Summer Picnic Sides

When the weather heats up, get outdoors and nosh on these tasty recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 11 votes

BLT Pasta Salad Recipe

With all the flavor of the sandwich, this BLT Pasta Salad Recipe is the best quick and easy side dish. Simply combine Rotini pasta, crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and creamy ranch dressing and gently toss.
Yield 10 servings
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 1 hour 40 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 12 oz. fusilli pasta gluten-free, cooked according to package
  • 10 oz. bacon cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 cups Romaine lettuce coarsely chopped
  • ½

    red onion thinly sliced

Pasta Salad Dressing:

  • ¾ cup Ranch dressing
  • ¼

    cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Djion mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½

    tsp. pepper

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
  • Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces. Cook in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. (Or, you can cook bacon in the oven and crumble once cooked.)
  • Mix Ranch dressing, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Pour ¾ of the dressing over pasta in a large bowl and toss to combine. Reserve the remaining ¼ of the dressing.
  • Add in bacon, tomatoes, and red onion. Toss to combine.
  • Cover and chill pasta salad in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or up to overnight. Just before serving add remaining dressing and Romaine lettuce. Toss to combine.
  • Serve pasta salad cold and enjoy!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 11 votes

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Simply prepare the entire recipe as is and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. Just before serving, add additional dressing and lettuce.
  • To Store: Keep this pasta salad in a large airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for two days if you’re using gluten-free pasta, or three to four days if using regular pasta.
Do not let this dish sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature or for more than 1 hour at temperatures above 80 degrees.

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 642mg, Potassium: 213mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1475IU, Vitamin C: 12.4mg, Calcium: 19mg, Iron: 1.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. I made this for a BBQ today.
    Small changes – made my own dressing from a combo of regular olive oil and lemon infused olive oil, balsamico modena, a combo of sweet and dijon mustard and mayo. Also added chunks of cheddar cheese and added a little parmesan to the final toss after the pasta was chilled.

    1. Maureen, that sounds delicious!! I bet everyone loved your unique touch on the dish. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  2. Oh wow this looks fabulous!! I’m always looking for new takes on classics, and this sounds perfect. My husband would just love it! Thanks!!!

  3. I made this for my nephew’s stag party, thank you for the recipe idea! I used 3 lb of gf pasta and adjusted the rest of the ingredients and added dill to the mayo dressing and red onion and frozen peas. I’m chilling it now, I think they’ll like it 🙂

    1. That sounds amazing, Maureen!! I love the addition of the dill, red onion and peas… What a great idea! I hope they love it 🙂