BLT pasta salad is an easy go-to summer side dish that everyone will love! Fresh cherry tomatoes, salty bacon, crisp lettuce, pasta and all tossed together with creamy ranch!
Fun fact. I actually don't really love ranch.
I know I know. I feel like everyone does. And not just likes ranch.....but like LOVES IT! Like, dip everything in it! Speaking of, if you grew up in school in the late 90s and early 00s do you remember the rectangle school pizzas they would serve at lunch with the tiny cubed pepperonis? I vividly remember everyone having just a little bit of pizza with their ranch for lunch as they DUNKED that pizza into it. It was fowl. I didn't understand. How could you ruin a perfectly mediocre overprocessed school lunch pizza with RANCH?! 😂
Anyways, I digress.
BUT.....there is one salad here in Kentucky that I LOVE ranch on. It is called the Lexingtonian salad at Malone's steak house and my gosh.....I could eat plates fun of it! All it is is crisp iceberg lettuce, tiny chopped tomatoes, crispy bacon bits, and their homemade ranch - which really is the star of the show. It comes unlimited with any entree there and I seriously can just eat a meal off of that. I need to stop writing and go get some ASAP!
That salad semi-inspired this recipe as I was on a Lexingtonian salad kick at the beginning of this summer. BLT pasta salad is a great twist (or salad) on a classic sandwich that makes an easy and delicious side dish for the summer! With all the flavors we love plus some carbs tossed in - what is there not to love?!
- Pasta - use any shape of pasta you like - it doesn't matter! I have also made this numerous times with Banza noodles* (a gluten-free option) and it turned out perfectly!
- Bacon - a trick I have done my entire life to easily make bacon bits is to use a pair of kitchen shears and cut the bacon into thin strips (aka bits) straight into a large skillet and then cook. It beats having to slice raw bacon with a knife or make a mess crumble after cooking.
- Cherry Tomatoes - I like to quarter these to make them small and bite-size.
- Iceberg Lettuce - to chop this lettuce, I cut it into about 1-inch slices and then roughly chop it into smallish bits. It gives me about 1"x1" bites or smaller. There is no exact science so just chop however you like!
- Ranch Dressing - the finishing touch! You can use your favorite store-bought kind or make it yourself!
- Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper - the key to bringing it all together. Add just a pinch of salt at the end to round it out and a TON of freshly cracked black pepper - this is the secret key/ingredient IMO!
How to Make
- In a large skillet, cut bacon into bits with kitchen shears and cook on medium until brown and crispy. Once finished, strain and lay on a paper towel to cool.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Make sure to cook to just al dente and not to overcook, and to cook in heavily salted water for flavor.
- While the pasta and bacon are cooking, quarter the tomatoes and chop a ½ head of iceberg lettuce into bite-size pieces.
- Once the pasta is finished cooking, strain and add to a large bowl.
- Add in the bacon bits, cherry tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce. Add the ranch dressing on top and toss with a pair of tongs until everything is evenly coated.
- Add a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt to finish, and toss once more. Enjoy immediately.
Make Ahead Instructions
This recipe is best made and enjoyed right away. The tomatoes and lettuce tend to get soggy with leftovers.
So if you would like to prep ahead of time OR enjoy leftovers, chop the veggies and make the bacon up to a day in advance and then toss everything together when ready to serve (after cooking the pasta). For leftovers, keep the tomatoes and lettuce separate and toss them together before serving to ensure everything is fresh and crisp.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is best enjoyed right away. The tomatoes and lettuce tend to get soggy with leftovers.
If you want to keep leftovers or have this on hand to eat during the week, keep all the ingredients separate and toss them together right before eating. This will help ensure all the ingredients are fresh and crisp!
Absolutely! I actually make this the most of the time with Banza pasta and it turns out perfectly and delicious! Just follow the cooking instructions on your favorite gluten-free pasta and make sure not to overcook.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
- 5 Ingredient Watermelon Orzo Salad
- Easy Greek Couscous Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Antipasto Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
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