BLT Macaroni Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Our BLT pasta salad will get everyone's attention at your next cookout or backyard barbecue. It brings the classic combination of lettuce, tomato and especially bacon to this still-easy side dish.

Updated: Jun. 07, 2024

If there’s one thing better than a classic BLT sandwich, it might be a BLT pasta salad. Take a bowl of this to your next potluck or backyard barbecue, and it’ll be the most popular side dish on the table.

Our BLT pasta salad recipe combines the key ingredients of bacon, lettuce and tomato with elbow macaroni and a zesty mayonnaise-based sauce. It couldn’t be easier, and it’s a sure-fire winner.

Ingredients for BLT Pasta Salad

  • Mayonnaise: Mayo provides a rich and creamy base for other flavors,  it’s a go-to dressing ingredient in pasta salads. In this case, it’s doubly appropriate, since it’s also a key ingredient in the classic BLT sandwich.
  • Chili sauce: Chili sauce adds a hint of color, tang and a tiny bit of heat to the dressing. It’s not part of a classic BLT but helps to liven up this salad version.
  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice brings a citrusy tang to the dressing, making the whole salad feel lighter and brighter.
  • Sugar: Sugar balances the lemon’s tartness, so its light and fruity flavor can shine through.
  • Elbow macaroni: Plain old elbow macaroni is always a good choice for pasta salads because its bite-sized and hollow shape helps it hold onto the dressing. It’s also inexpensive, which is important in big-batch recipes.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes add moisture and a fresh flavor to the pasta salad. They’re also one of the three essential ingredients in any BLT.
  • Green onions: Green onions aren’t a typical BLT ingredient but they’re a slam-dunk in pasta salads. They bring a mild but distinct onion flavor that elevates the other ingredients. They also add some visual appeal as well.
  • Lettuce: Shredded lettuce helps lighten the salad and adds color. It’s also a partner in the combination of flavors and textures that makes BLTs so appealing.
  • Bacon: Bacon is the heavy hitter among the flavoring ingredients and gives the salad much of its appeal. Tomatoes and lettuce are the supporting players, but bacon is the star.

Directions

Step 1: Assemble the salad

In a large serving bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon juice and sugar to make the dressing. Add the macaroni, tomatoes and green onions and toss them until they’re thoroughly coated with dressing. Refrigerate the salad until mealtime.

Step 3: Serve

At the last minute, add the shredded lettuce and bacon and toss the salad once more. Serve immediately.

BLT Pasta Salad Variations

  • Play with the dressing: A BLT sandwich uses plain mayo, but a pasta salad needs a bit more oomph (because there’s less bacon and tomato, relative to the amount of pasta). Our dressing here uses chili sauce and lemon juice to add that extra kick, but if this doesn’t suit your taste buds you can swap them out for ranch dressing, mustard or other flavor-enhancing ingredients. Any combination you like with bacon and tomatoes is fair game!
  • Change the pasta: Elbow macaroni is always a solid choice, but swapping it for another bite-sized pasta varies the salad, too. Good alternatives include bowties, rotini, fusilli and cavatappi. Filled kinds of pasta like tortellini, are an often overlooked option that can take your salad in an interesting direction.
  • Double down on the bacon: Bacon is the star of this salad, so why not use the best bacon you can find? Pick a top brand or artisanal, thick-sliced bacon from a farmer’s market or local butcher. Then double down by upping the bacon content from 4 strips to 6, or even 8. Trust us when we tell you that nobody will complain about “too much bacon.”

Can I make BLT pasta salad ahead of time?

Yup, it’s practically built into our BLT pasta salad recipe. You can leave it in the “refrigerate” stage for two to three days in advance, then add the bacon and lettuce immediately before serving.

How long will BLT pasta salad keep?

This recipe combines long-lasting ingredients with perishable ones, so that’s tricky. The lettuce will be at its best only for a day at most. Tomatoes will start to soften and become mushy after about two days. The pasta and dressing can last up to five days in the refrigerator if standing alone. Your best long-term option is to have a sealed bowl or container of the dressed pasta and add the remaining ingredients as you remove and eat each portion.

Can I freeze BLT pasta?

As the long-running joke says, “You can freeze anything; it’s thawing it that’s the problem.” Like most pasta salads, this one isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing. The macaroni holds up well, but the vegetables do not and the mayonnaise-based dressing tends to break down.

BLT Pasta Salad Recipe Tips

Can I make this BLT pasta salad creamier?

If you like your pasta salads to be creamier or “saucier,” just increase the amount of dressing. Increasing the dressing ingredients by half makes for a much creamier salad. The pasta also absorbs some of the dressing as it sits, and becomes drier. If you plan to keep a bowl of pasta salad in your fridge for several days, make extra dressing and add some to each day’s portion of salad to make it creamy again.

How long should I cook the macaroni?

There’s no universal answer to that question because each brand is different. Follow the instructions on the package, and stop once the pasta is al dente (tender, but still slightly firm in the middle). It will absorb moisture from the dressing and soften more after you’ve made the salad.

Why is my BLT pasta salad mushy?

You may have cooked it past the point of being al dente. It helps to rinse your macaroni in cold water once it’s drained, to cool it quickly and stop it from cooking further. Also, some brands of macaroni are better than others so if one brand doesn’t work for you try another and see if it gives you a better result.

How can I come up with other variations on this salad?

Lots of other ingredients work well with tomatoes and bacon (let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of things that don’t work with bacon). If you want inspiration, you can’t go wrong by looking at some of the other BLT-based recipes we’ve curated over the years.

Watch how to Make BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Macaroni Salad

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. Add the macaroni, tomato and onions; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, add lettuce and bacon; toss to coat.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 259 calories, 17g fat (3g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 5g protein.