Bacon and blue cheese are a classic combo that can make even the blandest burger taste amazing. So I started thinking that bacon and blue cheese could do a lot for the humble pasta salad also, since pasta is the perfect blank canvas and really shines when paired with anything salty or cheesy. So, here we have the Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad! And it is amazing, the blue cheese is creamy and salty and pairs so well with the crispy and slightly chewy bacon. And together, they really pack a big punch of flavor to the otherwise neutral flavor of pasta.
The pasta is lightly coated in a simple dressing of ranch dressing, mayo, salt and pepper, which keeps the pasta moist and adds some creaminess, without being too heavy. This also allows the strong flavors of the bacon and blue cheese to really shine. (Although, if you like more dressing on your pasta salad, there is always the option to add a double portion. More is more amirite?)
Broccoli florets and green onion round out the flavors and add some additional texture. Hey – since there’s broccoli in here, this is healthy right? 🙂
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Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad Ingredients
The ingredients are: dry pasta of your choice (I used rotini), bacon, blue cheese crumbles, broccoli, green onion, salt, pepper, mayo, and ranch dressing. Although, if you have blue cheese dressing on hand you could use that instead of the ranch for some extra blue cheese flavor! I just tend to have ranch in my fridge more often so I went with that.
How to Make Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad
I’m a lazy cook and I wanted prep to be as easy as possible. So, I used the microwave to cook the bacon for this recipe. If you would rather use your stovetop to fry the bacon, I fully support that! Here’s a breakdown of how to make Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad:
Step One: Start Pasta
Start heating your pasta water on the stove. When the water begins to boil, add a generous amount of salt to the water. When the water is boiling rapidly, add the pasta and cook according to the box directions.
It will probably take your pasta water at least 10 minutes to come to a boil, and, depending on the shape you chose, another 10 minutes at least for the pasta to cook. While you have this chunk of time free, get as much of the following prep steps done as you can. And if your pasta is finished cooking before the other steps, just drain it and set it aside for a moment until you have all the other ingredients ready.
Step Two: Prep Vegetables and Cook Broccoli in Pasta Water
While you are waiting on your pasta, cut the green onion into thin slices (both the white and green parts). Set aside. Cut the broccoli into small florets. During the last minute of the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli in to get a quick cook!
(Did you see this cool looking knife in the pic above? It’s the Shun Classic 7″ Santoku All Purpose Kitchen Knife, and it’s the sharpest knife I’ve ever used. It’s awesome I highly recommend it!)
Step Three: Cook Bacon
Here is where the microwave will really come in handy! Lay out a double layer of paper towels on a large microwave safe plate, and lay half of the bacon on top (try not to overlap the bacon slices). Cover with another double layer of paper towels, and microwave on high for five to seven minutes. The amount of time will depend on how thick your bacon is and how crispy you like your bacon. I microwaved mine for six minutes and the edges were crispy while the middle was still slightly chewy.
I used regular-cut bacon, not thick-cut, so if you have thick-cut bacon you will probably need a few more minutes. You can always check the bacon at five minutes and then microwave in one minute increments until you are satisfied with the crispiness. Remove to a cutting board to let cool. Repeat with the second half of the bacon (using new paper towels!). When the bacon is cool enough to handle, chop it into small pieces and set aside.
Step Four: Mix Dressing
In a small bowl, add the ranch (or blue cheese) dressing and mayonnaise, along with the salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until smooth.
Step Five: Mix Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad Ingredients Together
Your pasta (plus broccoli!) should be finished cooking by now. Add the drained pasta and broccoli to a large bowl with the dressing, green onion and bacon (but save about two tablespoons of the bacon and green onion to garnish the top!).
Stir gently to combine. When mixed, add in almost all of the blue cheese crumbles (except about 1/4 cup), and stir gently again. I added the blue cheese separately because I didn’t want it to get broken up too much during the mixing process.
Now garnish the top of the salad with the remaining blue cheese, bacon and green onion.
There you go! You have a beautiful pasta salad packed with powerful flavors, ready to wow at any backyard barbecue! And if you need a main course for your cookout, check out my recipe for Easy Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken!Print
This pasta salad packs big punches of flavor: creamy, savory blue cheese, salty bacon, plus broccoli florets and green onion.
- 1 lb. dried pasta (any medium-sized shape, such as rotini or bow ties)
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 4 green onions
- 12 oz. bacon
- 10 oz. blue cheese crumbles
For dressing (see notes):
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- 1/2 c. ranch or blue cheese dressing
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Boil pasta in heavily salted water, following the cooking time listed on the box. While the pasta water is coming to a boil and while the pasta is cooking, prep the remaining steps. (If the pasta is ready before all of the remaining steps are finished, drain the pasta and set aside until finished.)
- Chop the broccoli into small florets. During the last minute of pasta cooking time, add the broccoli.
- Chop the green onion into thin slices, set aside.
- Cook the bacon using your favorite method (pan-frying, baking, etc.). For an easy method, use the microwave: Spread out two layers of paper towel onto a large microwave safe plate. Lay out half the bacon slices on top so they are not overlapping. Cover with two layers of paper towels. Microwave on high for 5 – 7 minutes or until cooked to your liking. (Start at five minutes and check after each additional minute.) If you are using thick-cut bacon you may need additional cooking time. Remove the bacon to a cutting board to cool. Repeat with the second half of the bacon using new paper towels. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces.
- In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients with a fork until smooth.
- Add the bacon, green onion, dressing, cooked pasta and broccoli to a large bowl, reserving a small amount of the bacon and green onion to garnish the top. Stir to combine.
- Add in the blue cheese crumbles, reserving about 1/4 cup to garnish the top. Stir gently to combine.
- Garnish the top with the reserved bacon, green onion and blue cheese.
This amount of dressing provides a light coating on the pasta. If you prefer pasta salads with more dressing, make 1.5 – 2 times the amount. If you aren’t sure, you can always start with the lesser amount of dressing and then mix up some additional dressing to add in if you need to.
Keywords: pasta salad, bacon pasta salad, blue cheese pasta salad, easy side