Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad

Irresistible Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad Recipe

Looking for a crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, or weekday lunches? Look no further than this delicious Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad! Packed with crisp broccoli, savory bacon, sweet cranberries, and a creamy dressing, this salad is bursting with flavor and texture. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you how to whip up this mouthwatering dish in no time. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out in the kitchen, this Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad is sure to become a favorite in your recipe repertoire!


For the Salad:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 12 oz rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

For the Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Step 1: Cook the Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rotini pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: Prepare the Salad Ingredients

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped broccoli florets, diced red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and cooked and crumbled bacon.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

  1. In a separate bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, red wine vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

  1. Add the cooled pasta to the bowl of salad ingredients.
  2. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss everything together until evenly coated.

Step 5: Chill and Serve

  1. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the salad to an airtight container.
  2. Refrigerate the Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  3. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Vegetarian Option: Omit the bacon and add in some diced avocado or crumbled feta cheese for a vegetarian-friendly version of this salad.
  • Protein Boost: Add grilled chicken or shrimp for an extra protein punch.
  • Nut-Free: If you have nut allergies, feel free to omit the sunflower seeds or substitute them with toasted pumpkin seeds or chopped almonds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I make this salad ahead of time? A: Yes, this Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just be sure to give it a good stir before serving.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: Absolutely! While rotini works well in this recipe, you can use any short pasta shape you like, such as penne, farfalle, or fusilli.

Q: Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? A: Yes, you can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream if you prefer a lighter dressing.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

Keto Version:

  • Substitute the rotini pasta with cooked and cooled cauliflower florets or spiralized zucchini noodles to keep the carb count low.
  • Use sugar-free dried cranberries or omit them altogether to reduce the carb content further.
  • Opt for full-fat mayonnaise and sour cream to stay within your keto macros.

Low-Carb Version:

  • Follow the keto version substitutions mentioned above.
  • Adjust the portion size to fit your low-carb dietary needs.

With its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfying textures, this Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad is a winner every time. Whether you’re serving it as a side dish at a summer barbecue or enjoying it as a light lunch on a busy weekday, this salad is sure to please. With the helpful tips and variations provided in this guide, you can customize the recipe to suit your taste preferences and dietary requirements. So why wait? Gather your ingredients and whip up a batch of this irresistible salad today

Additional Cook Notes and Tips:

  • Bacon Crispness: For perfectly crispy bacon, cook it until golden brown and crispy, then drain it on paper towels to remove excess grease before crumbling it into the salad.
  • Blanching Broccoli: If you prefer your broccoli to be slightly softer, you can blanch it before adding it to the salad. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil, add the broccoli florets, and cook for 1-2 minutes until bright green and slightly tender. Immediately transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain and pat dry before adding it to the salad.
  • Adjusting Seasoning: Taste the salad before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more salt, pepper, or even a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness.


  • Cheese Lover’s Delight: Sprinkle some shredded sharp cheddar cheese or crumbled blue cheese over the top of the salad for an extra cheesy kick.
  • Herbaceous Twist: Add a handful of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, or chives to the salad for added freshness and flavor.
  • Spicy Kick: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a drizzle of sriracha to the dressing.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Picnic Perfect: Pack this Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad into individual containers for a picnic or outdoor gathering. It’s portable, satisfying, and can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
  • Family Dinner Side: Serve this salad alongside grilled chicken, steak, or fish for a complete and satisfying meal.
  • Potluck Favorite: Bring this salad to potlucks, barbecues, or holiday gatherings and watch it disappear within minutes!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Continued:

Q: Can I make this salad vegetarian? A: Yes, simply omit the bacon and add extra veggies such as cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, or cucumber for added flavor and crunch.

Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to give it a good stir before serving again.

Q: Can I use a different type of onion? A: Yes, feel free to use red onion, shallots, or green onions instead of the diced red onion for a different flavor profile.

In conclusion, this Bacon Broccoli Pasta Salad is a versatile and flavorful dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue, packing a picnic, or simply craving a satisfying lunch, this salad fits the bill. With its easy-to-follow recipe, customizable ingredients, and helpful tips, you’ll be able to create a delicious and nutritious salad that will impress family and friends alike. So don’t wait any longer—gather your ingredients and give this recipe a try today!

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