Make the best bacon macaroni salad as a delicious side dish for your next cookout or summer BBQs. This classic crowd-pleaser is a guaranteed hit with adults and kids alike. This simple recipe takes only 20 minutes prep time before you pop it in the fridge overnight; making it perfect for busy home cooks on the go.
Side dishes in the deli section of the grocery store can be expensive to purchase. Therefore, having easy recipes like this to make quickly is a great option for home cooks. What’s better is that this is a crowd pleaser too.
Recipe Using Crispy Bacon
If you love bacon and macaroni, then this is your recipe for a perfect side dish. We’ve put together an easy-to-make bacon macaroni salad that will be sure to please everyone at your next family gathering or potluck. Not only does it have amazing flavor from the salty bacon pieces, but it’s a quick dish that requires simple ingredients and minimal effort.
Plus, who doesn’t love leftovers? Our delicious version of this classic pasta side can easily become tomorrow’s main dish for lunch the next day.
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Ingredients in the Bacon Pasta Salad
Let’s dive into the world of flavors and explore the versatility of this satisfying creamy pasta salad. It’s one of our favorite recipes in the summertime.
When it comes to onions, you have options beyond yellow onions. Try using red onion, green onions, or sweet Vidalia onion for a different twist.
While I prefer using frozen green peas or frozen mixed vegetables for their fresh taste. You can also use other fresh veggies like, julienne carrots and cucumber, or small pieces of cauliflower or broccoli.
When it comes to cheese, don’t limit yourself to cheddar. Experiment with Colby cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese, or any cheese variety you enjoy.
If you’re not a fan of bacon, you can add diced ham or salami instead.
Celery adds a nice crunch, and any small sturdy pasta will work, like macaroni.
Mayonnaise can be substituted with Miracle Whip or a combination of both.
For sweetness, you can use granulated sugar, honey, or sugar substitutes. Lemon juice adds a tangy flavor, but you can also try using rice vinegar.
Choose your preferred type of milk to thin out the salad dressing, and if you want more seasoning, consider adding onion powder and garlic powder.
It’s a great recipe to swap out a variety of ingredients. Take this salad to the next level, try optional additions like cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cooked shrimp, or imitation crab for a delicious flavor combination. Get creative and make this Bacon Pasta Salad your own.
Why is my macaroni salad not creamy?
There are a few reasons why your macaroni salad may not be creamy.
Not enough dressing: The macaroni may not have enough dressing to coat it adequately. Ensure you’re using enough dressing and toss the salad thoroughly to evenly distribute it. Pro Tip. Sometimes after sitting for 24 hours in the refrigerator, the pasta will soak up more of the dressing. Therefore, I will add a little extra mayonnaise or Miracle Whip before serving to bring back the creaminess.
Overcooking the pasta: If the macaroni is overcooked, it can become soft and mushy, making it harder for the dressing to adhere to it properly. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Al dente pasta is firm to the bite, so that it retains its texture.
Soaking up the dressing: Macaroni tends to absorb liquids over time, so if the salad sits for too long, it can absorb the dressing and become dry. Consider adding a little more dressing just before serving or refreshing it with a small amount of mayo or dressing when needed.
Why does mayonnaise separate in macaroni salad?
Mayonnaise can sometimes become separated in macaroni salad for a variety of reasons.
Overmixing: If the mayo is vigorously mixed into the salad, it can cause the oil in the mayo to separate from the emulsion, resulting in a watery consistency. Pro Tip. Mix the ingredients gently until just combined to avoid this.
Temperature: Extreme temperatures can cause mayo to break and separate. Make sure the macaroni and other ingredients are completely cooled before adding the mayo to prevent separation.
Storage time: If macaroni salad is stored for an extended period, the mayo can gradually separate over time. Stir the salad gently before serving to recombine the dressing if separation occurs.
To minimize mayo separation, mix gently, ensure ingredients are properly cooled, and serve the salad shortly after preparing.
How long does pasta salad last in the fridge?
Pasta salad will typically last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To maximize its freshness, store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.
Can you freeze pasta salad?
It is best not to freeze pasta salad. Freezing can negatively affect the texture and quality of the ingredients, particularly the vegetables and dressing.
When thawed, the salad may become watery, and the vegetables may become mushy. It’s best to enjoy pasta salad fresh or refrigerate it for short-term storage.
What to serve with pasta salad
Since this salad is most often made for summer bbqs, picnics, and backyard grilling, here are our top picks for food to serve. All are easy recipes that pair well with this dish.
Pasta salad is versatile and pairs well with various dishes. Here are some popular options:
Best Bacon Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 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
- 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
- Prepare the pasta by following the package directions until it reaches the desired al dente consistency. Once cooked, drain the pasta, and rinse it with cold water. Set it aside for later use.
- Next, cook the bacon until crispy, then allow it to cool before crumbling it into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, sweet peas, diced onion, diced celery, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon.
- To make the salad dressing, take a small bowl and combine mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until they are thoroughly mixed.
- Pour the salad dressing over the bacon and pasta mixture in the large mixing bowl, then gently stir all the ingredients together.
- You can serve the salad immediately, or if you prefer, refrigerate it and serve it the following day.
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You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has cooked in restaurants for over 20 years, including many larger parties. She learned to crochet when she was just 11 years old and has been crocheting ever since; over 50 years now. Over 40 years ago, she loved her first class in sewing and continues to hone her skills in quilting. Many have enjoyed the handmade gifts over the years. 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.