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Easy Cold Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe

This Cold Bacon Pasta Salad is a delicious, simple-to-make dish that people just love eating. With only a handful of ingredients this macaroni side comes together quickly and tastes amazing. It’s a real crowd pleaser.

Plus, the leftovers are even better to eat later because all of those flavors meld together in one savory bowl. Whether you’re hosting summer barbecues, potlucks, and picnic lunches, this is the perfect side dish. It’s sure to be well received as I always take home an empty bowl.

It’s one of our summertime favorite recipes.

Crowd Pleasing Macaroni Salad

If you’re looking for a quick and easy cold pasta dish that’s sure to be a hit at any summer gathering, look no further. Not only will it take just minutes to whip up, but its combination of crispy bacon, sweet and savory is guaranteed to have everyone coming back for more.

Whether you’re hosting a potluck or having the whole family over for dinner or even just meal prepping during the week let us show you how simple it can be to put together this creamy pasta salad.

It’s a great recipe for making ahead.

Easy Cold Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe

Is there a difference between macaroni salad and pasta salad?

The terms “macaroni salad” and “pasta salad” are often used interchangeably, but there can be some subtle differences depending on regional preferences and recipe variations.

Generally, macaroni salad specifically refers to a salad made with macaroni pasta. Typically elbow macaroni, and it often includes mayonnaise-based dressing along with various vegetables, herbs, and sometimes protein such as diced ham or chicken.

Pasta salad, on the other hand, is a more general term that encompasses a broader range of pasta shapes. This can include a variety of dressings and mix-ins, such as vinaigrettes, Italian dressings, or even creamy dressings.

Ultimately, the specific ingredients and dressing used will determine the distinction between macaroni salad and pasta salad.

How to make bacon pasta salad

Ingredients and Recipe Substitutions for this Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with this delicious side dish packed with savory bacon, refreshing vegetables, and a fresh dressing. This salad is a crowd-pleasing dish that will elevate any meal or gathering.

But what if you don’t have all the simple ingredients on hand? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with some handy recipe substitutions that will allow you to customize the salad to your liking. So, let’s dive into the world of flavors and explore the possibilities with this versatile and satisfying Cold Pasta Salad recipe.

Onion. I just used a yellow onion. However, in other pasta salads, I have used red onion, green onions, or even sweet Vidalia onion.

Sweet Peas. I prefer to use frozen green peas as they are so fresh tasting. Just thaw and add. However, mixed vegetables will work too. You can also julienne carrots and cucumber. Small pieces of cauliflower or broccoli work well in this salad too.

Cheddar Cheese. Other cheeses that work well are Colby cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese, or any cheese variety that you enjoy. It can be shredded or cubed in bite-sized pieces.

Bacon. This is always the star of the show when added to a recipe. However, if you prefer, you can add diced ham or salami.

Celery. This adds a nice crunch.

Pasta. Any small sturdy pasta will work. I used macaroni, but a great option is penne pasta.

Mayonnaise.  Yes, Miracle Whip works. This recipe could even be made with half of each.

Granulated Sugar. Other options include honey or sugar substitutes.

Lemon Juice. Another delicious option is Rice Vinegar.

Milk. Any type of milk you prefer using would work. This helps thin out the salad dressing.

Salt and Pepper. If you want more seasoning, you could try onion powder and garlic powder.

Optional Additions: cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, cooked shrimp, or imitation crab all could add a delicious flavor combination.

Turn this into bacon ranch pasta salad recipe by adding ½ to 1 cup of Ranch Salad Dressing.

Summertime Pasta Salad

How do you cut the vinegar taste in macaroni salad?

If your macaroni salad has a strong vinegar taste that you want to reduce, here are a few things you can try:

Add sweetness: Balance the vinegar flavor by adding a small amount of sugar or honey to the salad. Start with a little and adjust to your taste.

Dilute with more dressing: Increase the amount of mayo or dressing in the salad to dilute the vinegar flavor. This will help mellow it out.

Let it sit: Sometimes, allowing the macaroni salad to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight can help mellow out the flavors, including the vinegar taste.

Swap out the vinegar: In place of vinegar, add lemon juice for the acidity. It will amp up the freshness of the salad too.

Crowd Pleasing Macaroni Salad

How to Store Bacon in the Refrigerator

Keep the bacon in its original packaging or place it in a sealed container or resealable bag to prevent odors and cross-contamination.

Make sure the temperature in your refrigerator is set below 40°F (4°C) to maintain food safety.

Store the bacon in a meat drawer or the coldest part of the fridge.

When the bacon package has been opened, wrap the remaining slices tightly in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or place in airtight container. This prevents them from drying out and absorbing odors.

Creamy Bacon Pasta Salad

What to serve with Cold Bacon Pasta Salad?

Pasta salad is versatile and pairs well with various dishes. Here are some popular options:

Grilled chicken or shrimp: Adding grilled chicken or shrimp to the pasta salad can make it a complete and satisfying meal.

Fresh vegetables: Serve the pasta salad with a side of fresh vegetables such as sliced tomatoes, cucumber, or mixed greens for added freshness and crunch.

Bread or garlic bread: Accompany the pasta salad with some crusty bread or garlic bread for a complete meal.

Grilled vegetables: Grilled vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or eggplant can be a tasty and healthy addition to serve alongside the pasta salad.

Barbecue or grilled meats: If you’re having a barbecue or grilling session, pasta salad can be a great side dish to complement grilled meats like steak, burgers, or sausages.

These are just a few ideas, but feel free to get creative and serve your Cold Bacon Pasta Salad with any dishes or sides that you enjoy.

Easy Cold Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe
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Easy Cold Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe

This Cold Bacon Pasta Salad is a delicious, simple-to-make dish that people just love eating. With only a handful of ingredients this macaroni side comes together quickly and tastes amazing. It’s a real crowd pleaser.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 30 minute meal, easy salad, easy side dish, One Pot Meal, summer recipe
Servings: 12 Servings
Calories: 541kcal

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  • 1/2 Cup Onion 1 medium onion diced
  • 12 Ounces Sweet Peas Frozen and Thawed
  • 12 Ounces Cheddar Cheese Shredded
  • 16 Ounces Bacon Cooked and Diced
  • 2 Ribs Celery Diced
  • 2 Cups Dried Pasta Cooked, drained, and rinsed

Salad Dressing

  • 1 1/2 Cups Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper


  • Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set it aside in a large bowl.
  • Cook the bacon, cool and crumble.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the cooled pasta, sweet peas, diced onion, diced celery, shredded cheese, and cooked bacon.
  • Salad Dressing
  • In a small bowl make the salad dressing. Add the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
  • Pour the salad dressing over the bacon and pasta mixture and gently stir the ingredients together.
  • Serve it immediately or refrigerate and serve the next day.

Your Own Private Notes


Calories: 541kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 722mg | Potassium: 238mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 231mg | Iron: 1mg


You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has cooked in restaurants for over 20 years, including many larger parties. In her professional career, she has worked in management in a wide variety of businesses including higher education as a dean of a division. All the while attending college part-time to achieve her doctorate in higher education with an emphasis in e-learning.

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