This creamy, easy pasta salad recipe is loaded with tomatoes, arugula, and avocado, plus crispy bacon that’s all topped with a super simple Ranch-style dressing made healthier with a combo of Greek yogurt and mayo.
You could say my collection of pasta salad recipes here on the blog are my children, and just like any mother of kids, it’s nearly impossible to choose just one as my most favorite. But, if you’re a fan of a creamy pasta salad, or an ultra easy-to-make pasta salad that’s loaded with healthier goodness (plus bacon!), this avocado and bacon pasta salad is for you.
Once the garden tomatoes come into harvest, BLT sandwiches are a staple at our house. And the only thing that makes them even better is adding avocado for them to become BLATs. Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwiches that are now a BBQ pasta salad staple.
So when my daughter requested I make a pasta salad that included her beloved bacon in the BLT mix, avocado was an obvious addition to make.
BLT Pasta Salad Ingredients
I’m sure you can already guess the key ingredients in this bacon and avocado pasta salad recipe, but I added in a few more veggies to add extra pops of flavor. Instead of lettuce, I used peppery arugula, which pairs beautifully with the ranch pasta salad dressing. And I prefer using cherry tomatoes in this BLT pasta salad because they’re so juicy and hold their shape nicely.
The other ingredients you’ll need for this potluck side dish are:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onion
- Greek yogurt
- White vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
The pasta salad dressing is a little healthier, because I used Greek yogurt instead of full flavored mayonnaise and sour cream. But thanks to the fresh herbs it has a totally fresh and delicious flavor.
As with any pasta salad, taste the dressing after you’ve whisked it together to see if it needs more salt or pepper. It’s much easier to season the dressing before it’s been tossed with the pasta!
How to Make BLT Pasta Salad
To make this homemade pasta salad, you’ll first need to cook the pasta noodles according to the package’s instructions. I tend to undercook my pasta just a bit for pasta salads so it doesn’t turn to mush as it absorbs the salad dressing.
While the pasta cooks, dice the bacon and cook it until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Note that you won’t have to oil the pan before cooking the bacon in it as the bacon will release a good amount of fat as it cooks.
Once the pasta has cooled slightly and the bacon and veggies have been prepped, add everything to a large bowl and toss to combine.
Next up is the dressing. This pasta salad dressing is so easy to make, and is an easier rendition of my homemade Ranch dressing for saucing this easy pasta salad. But if you’re out of ingredients or out of time to make the easy homemade dressing, feel free to use a quality bottled Ranch dressing instead. In a separate bowl, whisk together the homemade ranch dressing. Pour the dressing over the BLT pasta salad and gently stir to distribute it.
One final note: the sliced avocado will brown as it sits in this BLT pasta salad. Personally, I don’t mind eating brown avocado (it’s perfectly safe to eat!), but if that’s something you’re worried about you can wait to stir it in until just before you serve this homemade pasta salad.
Can I Use Fat-Free Greek Yogurt?
Personally, I would steer clear of using fat-free yogurt in this homemade pasta salad. Fat-free yogurts are often loaded with additives to make up for their flavor, and have a tendency to separate. Stick to low-fat or whole milk plain Greek yogurt for this recipe.
The Best Pastas for Pasta Salad
I like this pasta salad best with a short pasta noodle, and like in my Shrimp and Macaroni Salad I use my favorite shell noodle. But, there are quite a few other types you can try, like:
- Farfalle (bowtie or butterflies)
- Gemelli (twists)
- Fusilli (springs)
- Campanelle (flowers)
- Penne (tubes)
- Orichette (ears)
Always cook your pasta in water that’s been generously salted. I always prefer kosher salt to regular table or iodized salt because it’s not as harsh due to its larger, flakier crystals.
Can I Prep This Pasta Salad in Advance?
I actually prefer my pasta salads to be served chilled, so yes, you can definitely prep this bacon pasta salad in advance. Just note that the longer the bacon sits in the dressing, the less crisp it will be when you serve this pasta salad.
With that said, this BLT pasta salad will be fine if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving it. This will give the flavors time to come together.
If you’re making this pasta salad for a backyard BBQ or potluck party, you can easily double the recipe if you’ll be feeding a lot of people. One pound of pasta makes a lot of pasta salad, and the salad as-is serves 12 or more, but will stretch further if you’re serving other salads or side dishes along with it.
More Pasta Salad Ideas to Try
- Classic Shrimp and Macaroni Salad (this one always gets raves)
- Macaroni Salad with Smoked Mozzarella and Proscuitto
- Easy Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad
- Creamy Tuscan Pasta Salad
- How to Make Classic Macaroni Salad (because classics always win!)
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- 1 pound short pasta noodles such as shells, farfalle, cavatappi
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 2 cups arugula leaves
- 1 avocado chopped
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (low-fat or full-fat)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced flat leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions just until al denté and still a bit firm. Rinse under cool water and drain well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until desired crispness. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate topped with a paper towel to drain well.
Add the bacon, tomato, arugula, avocado and red onion to the pasta.
In a small bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, chives, garlic powder, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Thin with milk, water or buttermilk if desired.
Drizzle the dressing over the pasta and gently toss. Taste for seasoning. Serve chilled.
Note: If you're out of ingredients or out of time to make the easy homemade dressing, feel free to use a quality bottled Ranch dressing instead.
More Recipes Make This Pasta Salad a Meal
- Homemade One-Pot Sloppy Joes
- Citrus Brined Pork Chops
- Veggie and Sausage Kebabs
- Potato Chip-Crusted Chicken Breasts
- The Best Grilled Chicken Breasts
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