Bacon and pea pasta salad is loaded with crispy bacon, tender peas, shredded sharp Cheddar, shell pasta, and a creamy dressing spiked with red wine vinegar.
Thoughts and Tips on Ingredients
- Small pasta shells - I think small pasta shells are best because every ingredient added to this salad is petite. You don't want your pasta to overwhelm the other ingredients.
- Peas - Use fresh or thawed frozen peas. Skip the canned peas which tend to be mushy.
- Bacon - I use chopped thick-cut bacon, but regular bacon will work just fine as well.
- Sharp cheddar - I like the pronounced flavor sharp cheddar brings, get the regular shreds, not the thinner fancy shreds.
- Mayo - Mayo forms the base of the dressing.
- Sour cream - Sour cream adds a little tanginess to the dressing.
- Red Wine Vinegar - Adds bright flavor to the pasta salad that contrasts nicely with smoky bacon.
- Sugar - Optional, but adds a nice touch of sweetness.
- Salt - This will vary depending on the saltiness of your bacon.
How to make this pasta salad
Making a pasta salad is easy, as the ingredients simply need to be mixed together generally, and this recipe is no different. However, for best results, I like mixing the dressing separately first, and then adding it into the salad. Also, be sure to rinse your cooked pasta under cold water to cool it down so you don't end up serving a warm pasta salad.
How to serve it
Since this is a mayo and sour cream (dairy) based pasta salad you can't let it sit at room temperature all day, or you risk food poisoning your party guests. I recommend serving this is in a chilled bowl to keep it cool while you enjoy the party. Otherwise, it should sit out for no more than a couple hours before returning to the fridge.
Can this be made in advance?
This bacon pea pasta salad can be made in advance, but it is best served right away. I find the pasta soaks up moisture from the dressing and it becomes increasingly less creamy as it sits in the refrigerator.
More Pasta Salad Ideas
Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces small pasta shells
- 2 cups peas (fresh or frozen & thawed)
- 12 ounces thick cut bacon (cooked and chopped)
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup mayo
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt (plus more as needed)
- Boil a pot of water and cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
- While pasta is boiling cook the bacon until crispy, then set on paper towels to drain and crumble once cooled.
- Prepare the dressing by mixing mayo, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
- Add all pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl, stir in dressing and serve.