This flavorful Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad is so delicious and easy to prepare! I combine crispy bacon and fresh Italian parsley with the pasta in a creamy dressing that is flavored with Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon for that perfect touch of acidity.
Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad
This is one of the best easy pasta salad recipes in my repertoire. I think the addition of crispy bacon is the perfect addition to complement the other flavors in the dish. The salty bacon and Parmesan cheese, along with the fresh lemon juice, really cut through the creamy elements in the salad.
What I love most is that this dish can be prepared and ready to enjoy in the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta shells. Making this to ideal pasta salad side to serve any night of the week.
Even better this Easy Bacon Pasta Salad can be prepared ahead of time. So make it up earlier in the day or the night before, and allow the flavors to meld together. This will really intensify the flavors in the finished dish.
It’s one of those easy sides that are very likely going to be your new favorite side dish to take to a party, a potluck, a barbecue, picnic, or with an everyday meal.
How to make Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad
- Boil the pasta as directed on package instructions.
- Add frozen peas in the last few minutes of boiling.
- Strain the pasta shells and peas.
- Wash and strain with cold water to cool down the pasta and peas. and pour into a large bowl.
- Juice the lemon.
- Add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and mayonnaise to the pasta and stir through to combine.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and toss well.
- Top with bacon and freshly chopped parsley.
- Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad recipe ingredients:
- PASTA: I have used a pound of small shell pasta to serve 4.
- PEAS: I like to add 1/2 cup of frozen peas to the salad.
- MAYONNAISE: I use regular store bought mayonnaise as the base of the salad dressing.
- LEMON: I recommend using fresh lemon juice as it has the best flavor, but bottled lemon juice can work in a pinch.
- VINEGAR: I add apple cider vinegar to the dressing. White wine or sherry vinegar would be good substitutes. Don’t use red wine vinegar as it will turn the salad dressing a shade of pink.
- CHEESE: Grated Parmesan cheese is added to the salad which makes it super cheesy.
- BACON: Use any flavor of bacon, then cook and dice it up small so that you get a little in every mouthful.
- SEASONING: I season the salad with sea salt and a little ground black pepper.
- HERBS: I add some freshly chopped Italian parsley to the salad.
Flavor variations & substitutions:
- Swap the small pasta shells for any other shape or variety of pasta noodle.
- I like to add frozen peas to the pasta, but you could also add frozen broad beans (pop them out of their skin first), sweetcorn or edamame beans.
- Add extra veggies, like some chopped green onion, red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, celery or tomatoes.
- Swap the parsley for some fresh basil, tarragon or chives.
- I’ve used freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but you could swap that for grated cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gruyere cheese or blue cheese.
Recipe hints & tips:
- Only cook the pasta to al dente, you still want it to have a little bite.
- Once cooked, run the pasta under cold running water to cool it down before adding the remaining ingredients.
- This recipe can be easily doubled or trebled if feeding a crowd.
- To make a gluten free bacon pasta salad, use a gluten free pasta and ensure the salad dressing you are using is gluten free too.
Serve this delicious salad cold, as either a side or main dish salad. It can be served with a whole variety of main dishes, and works particularly well with grilled fish and meats, so serve up a bowl at your next family barbecue.
It makes a great light salad main too, so this is the ideal prep ahead lunch recipe. Try stirring through some leftover roast chicken to add extra protein to the salad.
The trick is to cook the pasta to al-dente, so that it still has a little bite to it. Overcooking pasta will only lead to it becoming soggy and breaking down.
Store bacon pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Yes, pasta salad is definitely one of those dishes that benefits from being made in advance. Make it early in the day, or the day before, and allow the flavors to meld together. It will result in a far tastier salad.
No, I don’t recommend freezing pasta salad, it’s a dish that is best eaten fresh. Pasta breaks down too much during the freezing and defrosting processes.
Try some of my favorite salads here at When is Dinner:
- Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Simple Pasta Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Greek Pasta Salad
- 1 lb shell pasta
- 1 1/3 cup mayo
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese; shredded
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 lemon; juiced
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 slices of bacon; cooked and diced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped italian parsley
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 544Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 1326mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 12g
These are a few items I find helpful when preparing this Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad in my own kitchen:
Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowl Set (3-Piece)DOWAN Ceramic Mixing Bowls/Serving Bowl Set, Non-slip Soft Curve on The Outside Design of The Bowls, 0.5 Qt – 2 Qt – 4.25 Qt – Cooking SuppliesLipper International 1174 Acacia Wave Serving Bowl for Fruits or Salads, Large, 12Qimh Collapsible Colander Set of 3 Round Silicone Kitchen Strainer Set – 2 pcs 4 Quart and 1 pcs 2 Quart- Perfect for Draining Pasta, Vegetable and fruit (green,blue, purple)Easy Pasta Salad Cookbook: 50 Delicious Pasta Salad RecipesFood52 Mighty Salads: 60 New Ways to Turn Salad into Dinner (Food52 Works)Beginner Pasta Salad Recipes Delicious, Nutritious, Low Budget, Mouthwatering Pasta Salad Recipes Cookbook