With pasta and optional toppings like avocado and cheese, this BLT pasta salad features the traditional combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes! It's the ideal side dish option for a BBQ or potluck.
BLT Pasta Salad
I adore how straightforward this BLT Pasta Salad is. When it comes to summer recipes, nothing beats a traditional pasta salad. It's incredibly simple to prepare and is bursting with flavor thanks to the crispy thick-cut bacon, crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and al dente pasta that has been tossed in creamy ranch dressing. This side dish combines all of the vibrant summer flavors.
I adore making the dressing with milk, sour cream, and ranch seasoning. The fact that there is no mayo is a personal perk for me, and I find it to be much tastier than bottled Ranch dressing!
How to Make It
Cook the bacon slowly and lowly until both sides are crispy.
Once cooled, put aside and chop. Pasta should be al dente in the interim.
Let cool after draining and adding a little olive oil.
Add ½ cup of Ranch dressing and toss.
Include the remaining ¼ of the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, Ranch dressing, and BBQ sauce.
Evenly coat by tossing. Serve after adding the remaining bacon!
Make Ahead Method
Three hours in advance, you can put this pasta salad together. Note: You might need to add more dressing before serving because the pasta will absorb some of it during this time. You get an extra cup of dressing from this recipe so you can customize it to your preferences!
This can be done up to 12 hours in advance:
- The dressing should be made and chilled.
- Chop up and cook the bacon. Prior to use, keep it in an airtight container.
- Pasta should be cooked, cooled, and then mixed with some dressing. Refrigerate overnight in a sealed container.
- Clean, cut lettuce should be placed in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out.
- The onions should be diced and kept in an airtight container.
- Within three hours of serving, combine all prepared ingredients.
Tips for the Pasta:
- To prevent overcooking your pasta, be sure to use a timer when boiling it. I prefer to cook it for 30 seconds less than al dente so that it will finish cooking as it cools gradually.
- To ensure that the pasta itself has plenty of flavors, season the pasta water well. I add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt.
- After your pasta has been drained, avoid rinsing it with cool water. On parchment paper or a tray on the counter, drizzle it with a little olive oil and let it cool. The pasta's starch makes it easier for it to adhere to the dressing.
- Rotini and penne are additional pasta options.
For up to three days, keep in a refrigerator in an airtight container. Keep in mind that when served fresh, the consistency is perfect.
BLT Pasta Salad
- 1 cup milk, any kind
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons Ranch seasoning mix
- 12 strips thick-cut bacon, high quality
- 1 lb. Farfalle pasta
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, washed/chopped/dried
- 1 pint cherry Tomatoes, quartered
- ⅓ cup Red Onions, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon BBQ Sauce
- Add the milk, sour cream, and Ranch seasoning to a large measurement cup and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will appear thin at first, but will thicken more in the fridge.
- Cook the bacon slowly over low heat until crispy on each side. Set cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate and chop once cooled.
- While the bacon cooks, measure out remaining ingredients and begin boiling salted pasta water. Once a boil is reached, cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. (Set a timer to avoid overcooking.) Drain once cooked and spread it out on a tray or on parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooled pasta to an extra-large bowl. Add ½ cup Ranch dressing and toss to coat evenly. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ¾ of the bacon, another ½ cup Ranch dressing, and BBQ sauce. Toss to coat evenly. You will have 1 cup extra dressing that you can use if desired.
- Transfer to a clean serving bowl if preferred and top with remaining bacon. You can serve immediately or refrigerate for 3 hours prior to serving. If serving 3 hours later, consider drizzling a little more dressing on top just before serving. (See notes for longer make-ahead method.)
- Bacon: I use Oscar Mayer Thick Cut Bacon. High quality makes a big difference.
- Dressing: I use Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, combined with sour cream and milk. I like it better than using bottled dressing for this recipe, but my backup recommendation would be to use 2 cups of
Ranch dressing, Marie's is my brand of choice.
- I use Sweet Baby Ray's for the BBQ sauce.
- Optional Additions to this salad include: Avocado, hard boiled eggs, English cucumbers, cheese, chives, and even corn!
- This pasta salad can be assembled 3 hours ahead of time. Note: The pasta will absorb some of the dressing during this time, so you may need to add more prior to serving. This recipe leaves you with an extra cup of dressing so that you can adjust it to your needs!
- Prepare the Dressing and refrigerate.
- Cook the bacon and chop it up. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Cook the pasta, let it cool, and toss with some of the dressing. Refrigerate in an airtight container overnight.
- Store the cleaned/cut lettuce in a freezer bag with the air sealed out.
- Dice the onions and store in an airtight container.
- Combine all prepared ingredients within 3 hours of serving.