This could be the BEST pasta salad I’ve ever made. It’s just so perfect and even 3 years after making it I can’t stop thinking about how dreamy it is.
This BLT pasta salad was an idea that came to me after Tony and I started making amazing BLT sandwiches with avocado for our lunches (we were on a real bacon kick for a few weeks!). There is something so comforting and delicious about a classic BLT sandwich that I started thinking about how good it might be deconstructed into a pasta salad. A few nights later, I developed this recipe and fell head over heels in love. Trust me when I tell you, you need to make it.
Before you get started, I do want to mention that the jalapeño cashew dressing really helps tie it all together. That’s right, instead of ranch or a dressing made with sour cream or mayonnaise, we’re tossing everything together with a creamy, dairy free dressing that has a hint of heat and coats every nook and cranny of the pasta. Don’t be afraid to try something new and different than what you’re used to! It’s DAMN GOOD.
Enjoy this incredible pasta salad as a dinner, lunch or even side dish at your next BBQ!
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BLT pasta salad ingredients
This easy BLT pasta salad is basically just made up of your fav pasta, some fresh summer veggies, and a simple cashew sauce you’ll absolutely fall in love with. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Jalapeño cashew dressing: we’re using this recipe for the dressing. IT IS AMAZING, packed with flavor, and dairy free! See ya later, ranch dressing mix.
- Bacon: the B in the BLT, baby! The bacon adds salty, crispy bites to the pasta salad. Feel free to use turkey bacon if you’d like.
- Pasta: I suggest using bowties (AKA farfalle) or large shells so that the dressing gets in all of those nooks and crannies, but feel free to use any pasta you’d like (even gluten free pasta). Elbow macaroni or rotini pasta would also be great!
- Corn: for a fresh, summer twist and slight sweetness. You can use grilled, raw or sautéd corn!
- Cherry or grape tomatoes: tomatoes add juicy bursts in every bite. I love using heirloom cherry tomatoes for color variety.
- Red onion: for a little extra zip.
- Romaine lettuce: the L in BLT! Romaine holds up really well in this BLT pasta salad and adds a wonderful crunchiness.
- Avocado: can’t forget about creamy avocado. Nothing better! I like to pick a just slightly ripe avocado so it stays firm in the pasta salad.
How to cook the best bacon
You can absolutely cook your bacon on the stovetop, but if your burners are full (and to avoid some mess) learn how to cook bacon in the oven here! It will be perfectly crunchy and delicious for this BLT pasta salad.
Customize your healthy BLT pasta salad
One of the best parts about this easy, dairy free BLT pasta salad? It’s great for customizing to fit the needs of guests or use up what you have on hand. Here’s what I can suggest:
- Pick your bacon: feel free to swap the regular bacon for turkey bacon or even omit to make this salad vegan & vegetarian.
- Add protein: some grilled chicken or chickpeas would be perfect for an extra boost of protein.
- Cheese it up: add a sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, parmesan or feta for a little more savory indulgence.
- Missing the bread? Try some fun croutons if you’re missing the toasty bread of your favorite BLT sandwich!
Let’s chat dressing
We’re lightening up this BLT pasta salad with a dairy free jalapeño cashew dressing that you’ll fall in love with. It’s easier to make than you think, but if you’d like to go nut free you can always use this homemade ranch dressing instead. Feel free to add jalapeño to the dressing, or toss thinly sliced jalapeños in the pasta salad itself.
Tips for making perfect BLT pasta salad every time
With a few tips and tricks, I guarantee you’ll fall in LOVE with this delicious pasta salad recipe.
- Don’t overcook your pasta. You’ll want to make sure you cook your pasta until just al dente so that it doesn’t end up mushy in the salad. Feel free to run the pasta under cold water after you drain it to help stop the cooking and cool it off before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Use the right avocado. Choose a ripe, but still firm, avocado so that the cubes don’t fall apart in the salad.
- Grill your corn. Yes, you can easily use raw, canned, or even thawed frozen corn in this recipe, but I’m obsessed with the flavor that grilled corn adds. Learn how to grill corn here!
How to store BLT pasta salad
This BLT pasta salad will stay fresh covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days. It’s delicious made ahead of time, too, so feel free to prep it the night before a picnic or bbq, or prep it for your weekday lunches. I would recommend adding the avocado when you’re ready to serve so that it stays fresh.
Make it ahead of time
You can easily make this pasta salad a couple of days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator! I’d recommend leaving the avocado and romaine off of the salad until you’re ready to serve it as they’ll lose their freshness the fastest.
You could also chop up all of your veggies, cook your pasta & bacon, make the dressing, and store it all in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble everything!
More pasta salad recipes to try
Get all of my salad recipes here!
I hope you love this damn good BLT pasta salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment so I know how you liked it. You can also share a photo on Instagram and tag #ambitiouskitchen. Enjoy, xo!
Damn Good BLT Pasta Salad with Creamy Jalapeño Cashew Dressing
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Damn good BLT pasta salad made with fresh corn, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, creamy avocado and crispy bacon. This easy, healthy BLT pasta salad recipe is tossed in an incredible, creamy jalapeño cashew dressing for an unbelievably delicious twist on your favorite sandwich. Perfect for potlucks, BBQ’s or enjoying for a healthy lunch or dinner!
- 1 batch of jalapeno cashew cream dressing
- For the pasta salad:
- 12 ounces bacon
- 10 ounces pasta of choice (I suggest bowties or large shells, gluten free if desired)
- 1 ½ cups corn, grilled, raw or sauteed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I love using heirloom cherry tomatoes for color variety)
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2-4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 slightly ripe but still firm avocado, diced
While the cashews are soaking for your dressing, I suggest chopping all your veggies and having them ready to go. You can also cook your bacon: add bacon to a large skillet or pan and place over medium heat, cook bacon on both sides until crispy and golden brown. If the pan starts to smoke at any point, simply lower the heat. I always cook my bacon on medium low heat. Once bacon is done, blot with a paper towel to absorb excess grease, then chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Next cook your pasta until al dente, drain and then place in a large bowl. Add all of the jalapeno cashew dressing, then stir together to combine. Next add the chopped bacon, corn (I prefer grilled or sauteed), halved cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, romaine lettuce and avocado. Gently toss again, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, adding more salt and pepper if you’d like. Serves 6, or 4 as a larger meal. Garnish with extra corn, tomatoes, red onion, avocado and bacon.
This BLT pasta salad will stay fresh covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days. It’s delicious made ahead of time, too, so feel free to prep it the night before a picnic or bbq, or prep it for your weekday lunches. I would recommend adding the avocado and romaine on when you’re ready to serve so that they stay fresh.
See the full post for delicious, easy ways to customize!
Servings: 6 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 6)
Saturated fat: 3.9g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on July 30th, 2020, republished on June 24th, 2022, and republished May 16th, 2023.