BLT Pasta Salad

$7.39 recipe / $0.92 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 7 votes
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One of my favorite things about summer is a big ol’ juicy BLT sandwich. But until those gorgeous summer tomatoes come in, I’ll be enjoying that BLT flavor in salad form. This BLT Pasta Salad gives me all that creamy, tomatoey, balcony flavor I love but in a cold and refreshing pasta salad form. Plus, it’s great for all your summer BBQs, picnics, and potlucks. So if you haven’t tried this classic summer pasta salad, put it on your list!

Overhead view of a bowl full of BLT pasta salad.

What’s In BLT Pasta Salad?

Okay, just in case you’ve never experienced the beautiful simplicity of a BLT sandwich, let’s start there. “BLT” stands for “bacon lettuce tomato”. A BLT sandwich is just crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, and sliced tomatoes between two slices of bread, slathered with mayonnaise. It’s simple and perfect.

For BLT Pasta Salad we keep the core flavors the same, but we flesh it out just a bit. I think lettuce is a bit too delicate for pasta salad, so I used fresh spinach instead (I think it holds up better and has better color and texture for a pasta salad). To give the dressing a little more flavor than just plain mayo, we add a little ranch dressing, lemon juice for zing, and some salt and pepper. And then finally, I added a little diced red onion to round out the flavor and texture of the salad. It’s still super simple and totally delish!

What Kind of Pasta to Use

You can use any short pasta shape for this recipe, like rotini, small shells, macaroni, orecchiette, cavatappi, or farfalle (bowtie). I went for bowtie because I thought the shape was super cute in this salad!

How Long Does it Last?

This BLT Pasta Salad benefits from a little time in the fridge (you’ll want it to sit for 10-15 minutes for the best flavor), but it will eventually dry out, so you’ll want to make it the same day if you’re serving it to guests. I ate the leftovers for two days after I originally made the salad and while it was still amazing the next day, it did get a little dry by day two. So for best results, make this salad the same day you plan to serve it and try to eat up those leftovers within a day or so!

Close up side view of a bowl of BLT pasta.
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BLT Pasta Salad

4.86 from 7 votes
This BLT pasta salad recipe is the perfect summer meal! It's easy to make, full of flavor, and perfect for a potluck or picnic.
Close up side view of a bowl of BLT pasta.
Servings 8 1 cup each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bacon ($2.30)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise ($0.92)
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing ($0.30)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.12)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 12 oz. bowtie pasta* ($1.25)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes ($1.89)
  • 1/4 red onion ($0.11)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (packed) ($0.46)
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Instructions 

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Once cooled, chop or crumble the bacon into smaller pieces.
  • While the bacon is cooking, prepare the dressing. Stir together the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set the dressing aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until tender (7-8 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander, rinse it briefly with cool water to cool it down, then let it drain very well.
  • While the pasta is cooking and draining, prepare the vegetables. Slice the grape tomatoes in half, finely dice the red onion, and roughly chop the spinach.
  • Once the pasta is cooled and drained, add it to a large bowl along with the spinach, tomatoes, onions, and dressing. Stir everything together until evenly combined and coated in dressing. Let the pasta sit for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend, then stir once more and serve.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 466kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 10gFat: 31gSodium: 546mgFiber: 2g
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How to Make BLT Pasta Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cooked bacon in a skillet.

Begin by cooking 8oz. of bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, chop or crumble the bacon into smaller pieces.

Dressing ingredients in a bowl, not stirred together.

While the bacon is cooking, make the salad dressing. Combine ¾ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup ranch dressing, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Cooked bowtie pasta in the pot being lifted by a pasta fork.

Add a tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add 12oz. bowtie pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-8 minutes). drain the pasta in a colander. Give it a quick rinse with cool water to cool it off, then let it drain very well.

Sliced grape tomatoes and diced red onion on a cutting board.

While the pasta is cooking and draining, slice one pint of grape tomatoes in half and finely dice ¼ of a red onion (about ⅓ cup diced).

Chopped spinach on a cutting board.

Roughly chop 2 packed cups of fresh spinach into bite-sized pieces.

Ingredients for BLT pasta salad being combined in a bowl.

Once the pasta is cooled and well drained, transfer it to a large bowl and add the spinach, tomatoes, onions, and dressing.

BLT pasta salad after the ingredients are stirred together.

Stir until everything is evenly combined and coated in dressing. Let the salad sit for about 10 minutes for the flavors to blend a little more, then give it one more stir before serving.

Close up overhead view of BLT pasta salad in a bowl.

So summery!

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Comments

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  1. Can i substitute romaine lettuce FOR the spinach?? Because I DON’T like spinach!!

    1. You could, but I’d add it right before serving as it wont keep as well once mixed with everything else.

  2. Perhaps a silly question but why add mayo to the ranch instead of using straight ranch? Wondering if I can get away with skipping that step for less prep time and fewer dishes. Thanks.

  3. Definitely the new summer favorite at our house. Super filling without heating up your whole kitchen. It has been a huge hit at gatherings with family and friends as well. I have been following the recipe closely, with only these tiny changes:

    1. Adjusting the serving calculator to use a 16-oz box of pasta, but also using a full pound of bacon. Because, well, its easier to use the whole package and who would ever complain about MORE bacon?

    2. Dumping in a generous handful of shredded parmesan for a more varied texture and appearance. If you’re on a budget, it’s a waste of money, but if you have some on hand that needs used up, I do think it adds a bit!

    3. Sprinkling in a pinch of crushed red pepper. I don’t think everyone would like it, but we do. :)

  4. This was amazing!!! I made it for my husbands work pot luck and there was barely a scrap left in the bowl, I’m lucky I had a small dish to taste test before the gathering. I used turkey bacon, as it’s cheaper and it’s what my family prefers. I drizzled a tiny bit of avocado oil on the pasta while it was in the colander cooling so that the pasta wouldn’t stick together. I also know my husband is picky about large pieces of tomato so I sliced up the tomatoes and let them sit on some paper towels while I cut up the spinach with some kitchen scissors to make them small enough that my husband wouldn’t turn his nose up or pick them out. He agreed it was delicious and I may attempt a half batch for our family of three. Thanks again for another budget bytes hit! I have recommended your website to so many friends. I love that usually everything is staples that I have on hand and I love reading comments and recommendations from you guys and the fellow readers. I make 80% of all our meals from BB!

  5. I made this yesterday and really liked it. A few changes I made:
    – Added 3 ears of fresh corn (cooked in water before pasta)
    -Cooked half of the red onion in bacon fat
    -Added fresh herbs (parsley & basil)

    1. From the blog post:
      HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
      This BLT Pasta Salad benefits from a little time in the fridge (you’ll want it to sit for 10-15 minutes for the best flavor), but it will eventually dry out, so you’ll want to make it the same day if you’re serving it to guests. I ate the leftovers for two days after I originally made the salad and while it was still amazing the next day, it did get a little dry by day two. So for best results, make this salad the same day you plan to serve it and try to eat up those leftovers within a day or so!

  6. I already can’t wait to make this again! It’s my new fixation meal, and definitely a new staple in my recipe box.

    I confess that I didn’t have all of the ingredients to make the exact recipe, so in the spirit of stretching my dollars and pantry staples, I made a few adjustments as follows:
    1)omitted onion (because absent)
    2)baked the bacon (because lazy)
    3)homemade ranch with off-brand ranch seasoning packet, mayo, Greek yogurt, fresh dill weed (because extra protein)
    4)chiffonaded spinach (because fancy)

    It was intended for meal prep but didn’t make it. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. That’s up to you, but I find that Greek yogurt is not nearly as creamy as mayonnaise, so it would definitely change the flavor and texture, IMHO.