This BLT Pasta Salad recipe is perfect as a side dish or main course, and is smothered in a creamy and tangy mayo-based garlic and herb dressing. It’s easy to make ahead of time for potlucks, picnics, or BBQs, and it only takes 25 minutes to make!
This pasta salad recipe has all the flavors you love about BLT sandwiches- thick-cut bacon, crisp romaine lettuce, and sweet tomatoes- smothered in a creamy mayo-based dressing. You’re going to love how easily this comes together and how delicious it tastes!
You only need one bowl and 25 minutes for this easy recipe. While the bacon is cooking, it’s easy to save time and prep the remaining ingredients and mix the dressing.
Serve this easy BLT pasta salad recipe at your next BBQ or party- it would be perfect for the Fourth of July!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Macaroni- another small-medium pasta shape may be used, such as farfalle (bowties), penne, rotini, shells, etc. You can also use gluten-free, whole wheat, or grain-free (such as chickpea) pasta.
- Bacon- I love thick-cut hickory smoked bacon, but you can use any kind, including turkey bacon or a vegetarian/vegan bacon substitute.
- Romaine lettuce- another kind of crisp, crunchy lettuce, such as iceberg or any green leaf lettuce will work. You can use mixed baby greens or baby spinach in a pinch.
- Mayo- mayonnaise is the base for the dressing, but if you want to lighten it up, use Greek yogurt or mashed avocado instead.
- Milk- this helps thin out the dressing. You can use a milk alternative, or omit it for a thicker dressing. You can also use buttermilk, if you have it.
- Apple cider vinegar- this helps add tangy flavor to the dressing and thin it out a bit. You can use another acid, like another vinegar or lemon or lime juice, if you want.
- Parsley, green onions, and garlic powder– for the dressing. You can use other herbs, like dill and/or cilantro, in addition to or as a substitute for the parsley. Red onion may be used instead of green, and fresh minced garlic may be used instead of garlic powder.
How to make BLT Pasta Salad
- First, mix the dressing– a combination of mayo, milk, parsley, green onion, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I like to do this in a large bowl, and then add everything else to that same bowl. Fewer dishes. Hooray!
- Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Cooked pasta, chopped bacon, torn romaine lettuce, and halved cherry or grape tomatoes. That’s it, you’re done!
You can save time by prepping the rest of the ingredients while you cook the bacon and the pasta. You can also take a really easy shortcut by using prepared ranch dressing as an alternative to making the pasta salad dressing yourself.
How to prep ahead of time
It’s easy to prepare this BLT pasta salad as a make-ahead recipe up to 2 days in advance, but there are few tips and tricks to make sure it’s extra delicious.
- Reserve half the dressing in a separate container before mixing it together. As it sits, the pasta will absorb the dressing and will seem dryer. Mix the reserved dressing in up to an hour before serving.
- Prep the tomatoes and lettuce ahead of time, but don’t add them in until just before serving (up to an hour before). Otherwise, they will get soggy.
Other easy pasta salad recipes
Browse this list of 20 Easy Make-Ahead Pasta Salads for more inspiration!
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BLT Pasta Salad
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BLT Pasta Salad is an easy make ahead side or main recipe, with torn romaine, thick-cut bacon, and sweet cherry tomatoes in a creamy garlic-herb dressing.
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Servings: 8 servings
- 8 oz. dry macaroni or other small-medium pasta shape, like bowties or rotini
- 8 slices bacon preferably thick-cut, cooked and diced (reserve some for garnish, if desired)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons milk preferably whole, or buttermilk (or dairy free alternative)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (reserve some for garnish, if desired)
- 2 green onions green and light green parts, thinly sliced (reserve some for garnish, if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 3 cups torn romaine lettuce
Cook macaroni (8 oz.) according to directions in salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Shake to remove as much excess water as possible. While the pasta is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients (cook the bacon, chop the veggies, etc.).
In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise (1/2 cup), milk (2 tablespoons), apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon), garlic powder (1 teaspoon), fresh chopped parsley (1/4 cup), three sliced green onions, kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon), and black pepper (1/4 teaspoon). If making ahead of time, reserve half the dressing in a separate container (see notes).
Add the cooked and cooled pasta, the cherry tomatoes (2 cups), and the torn romaine lettuce (3 cups) to the bowl with the dressing. Mix together until dressing coats everything.
Serve garnished with reserved bacon, parsley, and green onions if desired.
- If making ahead of time, reserve half the dressing to toss with the pasta salad just before serving. I also recommend prepping the cherry tomatoes and lettuce, and stirring them in just before serving as well, to avoid them becoming mushy.
- Ingredient substitutions: Gluten-free, whole wheat, or grain-free pasta (such as chickpea) may be used in place of regular pasta; diced red onion may be used instead of green onions; lemon juice or another vinegar may be used instead of apple cider vinegar; another lettuce or baby greens may be substituted for romaine; milk may be omitted, or a milk alternative for a dairy-free version; prepared ranch dressing may be used as a shortcut in place of the homemade dressing.
- For a lighter version, use turkey bacon or a vegetarian bacon substitute and Greek yogurt or mashed avocado instead of mayo (add more salt to taste if you do this).
- For a richer taste, reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to stir into the dressing.
- Servings: This recipe serves 8-10 as a side; 4-6 as a main. Nutrition information is estimated at 8 servings.
Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 260mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1922IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg