An easy BLT Pasta Salad recipe that is loaded with bacon, cherry tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, and then tossed in a delicious ranch and mayonnaise dressing. This cold side dish is one of the best recipes you can bring to a summer picnic, backyard BBQ, or potluck dinner!
BLT Pasta Salad for Summer Picnics
Summertime is in full swing here at the Brazil house!
In addition to Memorial Day picnics, and an upcoming July 4th barbecue, we are spending most of our days either lounging by the San Marcos river or making quick trips to Barton Creek.
All of these fun outdoor adventures call for quick and easy dishes that can be served cold, prepped ahead, and taken along with you…
Like this easy BLT pasta salad recipe!
Easy Side with Homegrown Tomatoes
This BLT pasta salad recipe was first posted to the site 5 years ago, almost to the exact date.
It’s one of our family’s favorite cold pasta recipes because it is pretty easy to make and is FULL of flavor.
Not to mention, if you happen to be growing fresh tomatoes in your summer garden, it’s a wonderful way to use them all up!
The ingredients you will need to make this BLT pasta salad recipe are pretty easy-to-find and consist of:
- Bacon – Duh! Will fill you in more on this below.
- Lettuce – Of course!
- 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 chop those and use them instead.
- Ranch – A good Ranch is used to make up the bulk of this pasta salad dressing. I prefer to buy Marie’s ranch in the refrigerated aisle at our grocery store or Hidden Valley ranch.
- Mayonnaise – Hellmann’s mayo is always my go-to (the one made with olive oil!) but 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.
Best Kind of Bacon
If you have not checked them out yet, ButcherBox is my absolute favorite place to get bacon! It is minimally processed, uncured, nitrate-free, and sugar-free.
Although, if I am out of their delicious, healthy, and good-for-you bacon, I opt for one found at my local grocery store that meets these requirements:
- No added hormones
- No antibiotics used
- No added sugar
What Type of Lettuce?
This BLT pasta salad can be made with just about any type of lettuce you happen to have on hand. A few of my favorites include:
- Romaine Lettuce – Personal preference since it holds its shape and stays crisp for a long time.
- Spinach – Also works great and is full of more nutrition, but will get a little soggy if left for too long before serving.
- Kale – Another nutrition-packed option, but may be a bit bitter. If using kale, make sure you finely chop it into bite-sized pieces.
- Iceberg Lettuce – My last choice since it is full of primarily water and not much nutrition (the less green, the less nutritious!) but will work if it’s your only option.
How to Cook Bacon
As you will see in the recipe below, you can either cook your bacon for the BLT pasta salad in a skillet or learn how to cook bacon in the oven.
Cooking in a Skillet:
- Finely chop bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Add to a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until cooked through.
- Drain bacon on a paper-towel lined plate to let drain and cool before adding to the dish.
If you’re a little short on attention or stovetop space, you can always cook it in the oven and then crumble it when it’s done.
Gluten Free Pastas
If you are not gluten-free, or do not have a gluten-free friend or family member, you can skip this section completely.
However, if you prefer to avoid it, here are a few of the best gluten-free pasta brands for making pasta salad recipes.
Cook’s Tip: Unlike regular pasta, gluten-free does tend to harden up (rice-based pastas) or break apart (corn-based pastas) after 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
If prepping this ahead of time, do not make it more than 12-24 hours in advance for the pasta to have the best texture.
How to Make
Once you have all of your ingredients gathered, it’s actually quite simple to make a pasta salad recipe at home.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients.
- Cook bacon in the oven or on the stove top.
- Combine pasta with ¾ of the dressing and toss to combine.
- Add bacon, onion, and cut tomatoes. Toss to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or up to overnight.
- Add remaining dressing and lettuce just before serving.
- Toss and enjoy!
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Yes! You absolutely can prep this BLT pasta salad ahead of time, and I highly encourage it! (Please make sure to read about the gluten-free pasta tip above!)
Simply prepare the entire recipe as is and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before serving. Just before serving, add additional dressing and lettuce.
Since this recipe contains temperature-sensitive ingredients (mayonnaise, bacon, etc.) you will want to properly refrigerate this side dish recipe between servings in a large bowl with a lid.
Do not let it sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature or for more than 1 hour at temperatures above 80 degrees.
If stored properly, this BLT pasta salad will last for up to 2-4 days. (Two days if using gluten-free pasta, 3-4 days if using regular pasta)
Other Quick & Easy Picnic Sides:
BLT Pasta Salad Recipe
An easy BLT Pasta Salad recipe that is loaded with bacon, cherry tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, and then tossed in a delicious ranch and mayonnaise dressing.
- 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
½red onion thinly sliced
Pasta Salad Dressing:
- ¾ cup Ranch dressing
- 1 tsp. Djion mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
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!
- If stored properly, this BLT pasta salad will last for up to 2-4 days. (Two days if using gluten-free pasta, 3-4 days if using regular pasta)
- You can either cook your bacon in a skillet or learn how to cook bacon in the oven.
- A few gluten-free pasta brands you might enjoy: