Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

Creamy Pasta Salad loaded with petite peas and crispy bacon is super quick and easy to make (with hardly any chopping) and smothered in tantalizing Lemon Parmesan dressing!

This Creamy Pasta Salad is destined to become a new favorite dinner side or potluck crowd pleaser and couldn’t be any easier!  You can make the salad ahead of time and just add the bacon before serving for the perfect stress side everyone will love.  You can customize the ingredients with your favorite veggies or leave it perfect – and extra easy – in its simplicity. 

Top view of Creamy Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon with a wood serving spoon

Creamy Pasta Salad

Warm weather has been late in coming this spring, but before we know it, it will be everything sandals and sunscreen which means potlucks and barbecues galore – my fav!  I love the smorgasbord of baked beans, beef brisket, chicken kebabs, steak kabobs, potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob, and of course, creamy pasta salad.

Every get together needs a fabulous pasta salad –  not just obligatory pasta salad – enter Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad!  This creamy pasta salad boasts the winning trifecta of bacon, peas and pasta to create a harmonious blend of bright, fresh crunchy textures. One of my favorite texture combos in the world. It’s so simple, but so perfect.

How to Make Creamy Pasta Salad

Most pasta salads involve a lot of chopping due to the veggies – but this cool and creamy pasta salad doesn’t have any – aside from crumbling your bacon in two seconds – winning!  Of course, you can add whatever veggies you want as long as you stick to the drool worthy, luxurious creamy, Lemon Parmesan Dressing.

The creamy dressing is based off of my BLT Pasta Salad recipe because after I made that salad, I was soooo in love with the dressing (and the whole salad), that I couldn’t get the creamy lemon deliciousness out my mind. And now we don’t have to.

Showing how to make dressing with mayonnaise for Creamy Pasta Salad

Dressing for Creamy Pasta Salad

This Parmesan Lemon Dressing enlivens the creamy pasta salad with it’s zippy tangy kiss and cuts through the richness of the dressing. I swapped the chives for Parmesan (from my BLT Dressing version) and made a few other tweaks and now we have a bright and tangy, lusciously creamy dressing infused with oregano, parsley, garlic and most importantly, lemon juice and lemon zest.  It’s fresh and vibrant and so addicting you will want to smother it on everything!

showing how to make Creamy Pasta Salad by adding salad ingredients of bacon and peas to a white bowl

HELPFUL TIPS TO MAKE this Creamy Pasta Salad Recipe:

  • You can make the dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Whisking the ingredients together is the most time consuming part of the recipe (although super) easy, so if you have this done, then the recipe comes together lightening fast!
  • I like to use medium pasta shells in this recipe but any medium or small pasta will work great. Mini Farfalle would be delicious as would macaroni.
  • It is important to not overcook your pasta – you want it al dente so it still has a little bite otherwise the pasta salad will be soggy. We want creamy – not soggy.
  • To stop your pasta from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water then drizzle it with a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
  • It is essential to use thick-cut bacon in this recipe so it retains its meaty texture when covered in the creamy dressing.
  • Make sure you are using petite frozen peas as they taste fresh and almost crunchy vs. mushy.
  • Unlike vinaigrette dressings, you will want to make sure the pasta is completely cool before mixing in the creamy dressing to ensure the dressing doesn’t separate.
  • Feel free to add any other veggies your heart desires! Even chicken would be delicious!
Showing how to make Creamy Pasta salad by stirring together macaroni, peas, bacon and dressing together

HOW TO MAKE Creamy Pasta Salad IN ADVANCE

  • You can make the Lemon Parmesan Dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon before tossing as the lemon will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
  • To make the Creamy Pasta Salad ahead of time, add the pasta and peas to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing once the pasta has cooled (so the dressing doesn’t separate). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, add the remaining dressing and the bacon and toss until evenly combined.
Side view of Creamy Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon

WANT TO TRY THIS CREAMY PASTA SALAD RECIPE?

Pin it to your SIDES, SALADS or PASTA Board to SAVE for later!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

up close view of creamy pasta salad with macaroni, bacon and peas in a white bowl

LOOKING OR MORE PASTA SALAD RECIPES?

LOOKING FOR MORE Summer SALAD RECIPES?

Top view of Creamy Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon with a wood serving spoon

Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

Creamy Pasta Salad loaded with petite peas and crispy bacon is super quick and easy to make (with hardly any chopping) and smothered in tantalizing Lemon Parmesan dressing! This Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad is destined to become a new favorite dinner side or potluck crowd pleaser and couldn’t be any easier!  You can make the salad ahead of time and just add the bacon before serving for the perfect stress side everyone will love.  You can customize the ingredients with your favorite veggies or leave it perfect – and extra easy – in its simplicity. 
Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz. medium shells or other small pasta of choice
  • 2 cups frozen petite peas thawed
  • 8 oz. thick cut bacon cooked and chopped

Lemon Parmesan Dressing

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar

Instructions

  • Whisk together all of the Lemon Parmesan Dressing Ingredients together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Dressing is much better if it has at least 30 minutes to chill.*
  • Cook pasta according to package directions just until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. Drizzle with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.
  • If serving immediately: Add cooled pasta, peas, bacon and dressing to a large bowl and toss until evenly combined.
  • If not serving immediately (preferable so salad can chill): Add the pasta and peas to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing once the pasta has cooled (so the dressing doesn’t separate). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, add the remaining dressing and the bacon and toss until evenly combined.

Notes

  • You can make the dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon before tossing as the lemon will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
  • I like to use medium pasta shells in this recipe but any medium or small pasta will work great. Mini Farfalle would be delicious as would macaroni.
  • It is important to not overcook your pasta – you want it al dente so it still has a little bite otherwise the pasta salad will be soggy. We want creamy – not soggy.
  • To stop your pasta from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water then drizzle it with a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
  • It is essential to use thick-cut bacon in this recipe so it retains its meaty texture when covered in the creamy dressing.
  • Make sure you are using petite frozen peas as they taste fresh and almost crunchy vs. mushy.
  • Unlike vinaigrette dressings, you will want to make sure the pasta is completely cool before mixing in the creamy dressing to ensure the dressing doesn’t separate.
  • Feel free to add any other veggies your heart desires! Even chicken would be delicious!

Did You Make This Recipe?

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©Carlsbad Cravings Original

A version of this recipe first appeared on The Slow Roasted Italian where I am a contributor.

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30 Comments

  1. Calli says

    Hi Jen, your BLT Pasta Salad was the best pasta salad I’ve ever made so I can only imagine how good this dressing is with Parmesan! Looking forward to making it this weekend. Thanks for all the fabulous recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Calli, I’m thrilled you loved the BLT Pasta Salad so much! If you loved that salad, you will loooove this one as well! enjoy!

  2. Amber says

    I made this salad for a bunch of coworkers and everyone loved it! The dressing is wonderful! I loved that I could assemble it all before work and didn’t have to worry about last minute prep. Thanks for another winner!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amber, I’m thrilled this salad was a hit at work and stress free prep for you! winning! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Susan says

    Hi Jen,
    I made this salad exactly as directed and it came out perfect! There were only 3 of us so I cut the recipe in half thinking leftovers . . . nope, we ate it all. Really delicious!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Susan! No leftovers is the best compliment! I’m so happy it was such a hit!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Kimberly! I’m so happy it was a winner!

  4. Suzanne says

    YUM! Not only is this recipe beautiful in the bowl…it is fresh and deeelish! Perfect meal to eat out on the patio as the warm weather is here…the freshness of the lemon mixed in with all of it makes this the perfect patio dinner experience.

    • Jen says

      Yay for warm weather! I love imagining you enjoying this creamy pasta salad on your patio – so picturesque! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks Suzanne!

  5. Kim @ FoodTalko says

    YUM! This looks and appearance great!!I like this Salad,thank you!

  6. sheri horvath says

    The Lemon Parmesan Dressing is absolutely delicious! I’ll be wracking my brain to find other uses for it. I could just drink it 🙂 Thanks for all your delicious recipes.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome! I’m thrilled you love it so much!

  7. Mommy4Girls says

    I made this recipe for my daughter’s Girl Guide’s banquet last night and it was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe and there was still barely half a cup left to take home! Even my picky 6 year old ate seconds and asked me to make it again 🙂

    • Jen says

      I LOVE hearing this pasta salad was such a huge hit! Thank you so much!!!

  8. Mandy Cousineau says

    Hello! Every recipe I’ve have tried has been a huge hit! We love your short rib shepherds pie and enchiladas. I’ve never in my life made enchilada sauce and yours was so easy and incredible.

    I made this pasta dish, and oh wow was it amazing. The dressing was so good! Can’t wait to try all of your salads this summer!

    • Jen says

      Hi Mary, thank you so much for taking time to make my day! I’m honored you’re loving my recipes and that my enchilada sauce is such a winner! I’m so happy you loved this creamy pasta salad as well! I’ll make sure to keep the salad recipes coming!

  9. Debi says

    This was delicious! The only change I made was using fresh chives (tho I wish I would’ve paid attention to your note about setting aside some of the dressing to toss right before serving. I have made so many of your recipes and every single one is a winner! I said this before, but I wish you had a cookbook. It would be my most used.

    • Jen says

      Thank you Debi, I love your comments! I am so happy this was another winner recipe and I’m honored you have made so many!

  10. Hungry Roses says

    Huge fan of this blog! For those who made this have any of you made the BLT pasta salad? Curious which one you liked better. The BLT is my go to but this sounds so yummy maybe it’s time for a change up?

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I think it just comes down to your mood – are in in the mood for more texture in the BLT pasta salad or more comforting creamy with little pops of texture in this salad?

      • Hungry Roses says

        Since I’ve made at least 10 things off of your blog and every single one was 5 stars, I think I’ll try this one. It’s just so hard to deviate from the BLT because it’s so great! The lasagna soup drew me to your blog and recipes like these keep me coming back. Thank you for sharing your talents with us and making us all look good when we host…

        • Jen says

          Thanks so much! I’m honored you have made and loved so many of my recipes! I hope this is a new favorite – right up there with the BLT salad!

  11. Melynda says

    This is one of my favorite recipes which I crave. And I Love every recipe I’ve made from you. I’m currently trying to cut down on some fat, and wondered your thoughts on replacing the mayonnaise with greek yogurt? Have you tried this substitution? I know it sounds silly since there’s bacon, oil, and cheese in this, but every little change has helped me lose weight.

    • Jen says

      Hi Melynda, I haven’t personally tried but, but I think it will work – it just won’t taste quite the same. I would go for a Greek yogurt that’s less tangy like Greek Gods or Icelandic brands. Good luck!

  12. Ekta says

    Another yum recipe from Jennifer! So quick to make also.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much, so happy you loved i!

  13. Mia Brannon says

    Try Vegainase! I use the grapeseed oil vegainase, it’s vegan and very healthy I use it all the time in place of mayo you can’t tell the difference…Trust me!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the tip Mia, I’ll definitely look for it!

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