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Will Dickey

Summer’s arrival means potlucks, barbecues, picnics—and lots and lots of pasta salad. Think of this BLT pasta salad as your entry point to all summer meals. Serve it for dinner with burgers and grilled meats, pack it up for a picnic lunch, or even make it on a Monday to snack on all week. (Any excuse for pasta, right?)

Along with the BLT components of this dish (bacon, lettuce, and tomato), the key to making this pasta salad so delicious is in the dressing. The mayo-based topping is made with one of our favorite kitchen hacks—ranch seasoning mix! It’s creamy, herby, and packed with flavor.

Which pasta is best for pasta salad?

You can use any pasta shape you have handy, but bite-sized pasta with texture and holes is best to catch the dressing, herbs, and other toppings. Try bowties, shells, orecchiette, or penne—or go for something with a spiral-shape like fusilli or cavatappi.

How long should pasta salad sit before serving?

This pasta salad recipe really is easy and works for just about any situation. If you’re in a rush, you can eat it as soon as you mix it! But you can also make it ahead and keep it for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If making it the day before, keep the bacon and lettuce on the side until ready to serve. (Tossing them in just before will make sure they stay crunchy.) You’ll also want to hold a small amount of dressing on the side to mix in right before serving. Alternatively, moisten the pasta salad before serving with an additional ¼ cup whole milk or buttermilk.

Should you rinse the pasta for pasta salad?

For a cold pasta salad, you certainly can (and should) rinse your pasta. Warning: This is not the case for hot pasta—never rinse pasta when you’re making a hot dish. When it’s cold, though, you actually want to stop the pasta from cooking further by using cold water to rinse off some of the starch so the pieces don’t stick together. If you are cooking your pasta the day before, give it a rinse, then toss it with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (to prevent it from sticking together) and refrigerate in a covered container.

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Prep Time:





Juice of one lemon


grated parmesan cheese

grated parmesan cheese


thinly sliced romaine lettuce


chopped red onion

chopped red onion


chopped fresh herbs, such as dill and/or parsley

chopped fresh herbs, such as dill and/or parsley

  1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning as needed, until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes total. (You may need to cook the bacon in two batches, draining the rendered fat from the skillet between batches.) Let the bacon cool to room temperature, then crumble up into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and let cool. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, ranch seasoning, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and black pepper. Add the pasta, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, herbs and half of the crumbled bacon to the bowl with the dressing. Gently fold together to coat. Top with remaining bacon and serve. 

To make the pasta salad the day before, do not stir in the romaine lettuce or bacon until just before serving. This will keep them crunchy and give your salad great texture!

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