This rotini pasta salad combines the flavors of a bacon avocado club with a fully loaded pasta salad. It’s a simply scrumptious side dish that will knock your socks off!
Perfectly tangy with fresh pops of tomato and creamy avocado, this Italian pasta salad has all of the flavors you are craving.
Even better, it’s incredibly easy to put together for a last-minute meal or potluck. Chop the fresh ingredients while you cook the noodles and bacon, then combine everything in one bowl.
Rotini Pasta Salad
While this recipe makes more than enough chicken bacon pasta salad for a full meal, you could enjoy a smaller serving with your favorite sandwich!
Both are just as easy to throw together and ready in under 30 minutes.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Rotini – A tri-color box typically comes in a 12 oz. size, but the all-white rotini is 16 oz. Either will work for this recipe. Obviously, the larger box will yield more, so you may want to use a little less dressing with a smaller amount of rotini pasta.
- Bacon – Substitute diced salami or grilled chicken for the bacon, or use all three! For a vegetarian option, replace the crumbles with fresh Parmesan.
- Cheese – Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack are all fantastic substitutes. You could even use a combination of your favorites!
- Italian Dressing – We love Newman’s Own, but if you have a favorite brand, feel free to use it. Or, you can make homemade Olive Garden salad dressing.
- Pepperoncini – These pickled chiles are scrumptious and are mildly spicy. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, feel free to leave them out.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Pot and strainer for the noodles
- Large bowl – I use for a clear glass bowl so the rotini pasta salad can be the star of the show!
- Salad tongs – These bamboo hands help to toss everything gently and are attractive enough for serving as well.
- Citrus juicer – This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing lemons so much easier!
Easy Pasta Salad FAQ
It’s all about the dressing! Add enough to the bowl so everything is well coated. Then, keep extra on hand so you can add a splash or two to leftovers as needed.
There isn’t a simple answer, because it depends on the ingredients in the pasta salad recipe. But, I can say that this particular rotini pasta salad has fewer calories than most, while still tasting absolutely scrumptious!
What really makes this a healthy pasta salad is the balance of meats, grains, and veggies. Plus, instead of a heavy mayo-based dressing, our recipe calls for a light Italian dressing. The whole dish is built to help you achieve your five-a-day!
Kitchen Hack for Slicing Small Tomatoes
- Grab two rimmed lids – the ones from storage containers work great – and flip one upside down.
- Place a handful of tomatoes on top, then cover them with the other lid, so the rims are facing each other. Hold the top lid in place with one hand while you slide a serrated knife between the lids.
You’ll have perfectly halves in seconds! This trick works with pitted olives and cherries as well.
Prep Ahead Instructions
This salad tastes even better when chilled, so it’s the perfect meal prep recipe!
Since the rotini in the pasta salad absorbs the dressing as it sits, I recommend tossing it with half of the dressing to start, then add the rest just before serving.
You could also portion out the entire bowl for lunches. Still add only half of the dressing, then divide the rest into small containers to mix into each serving.
How To Store Rotini Pasta Salad
Whether you make this recipe ahead of time or divide it up for meal prep, rotini pasta salad can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Keep extra dressing on hand to refresh leftovers as needed or simple add a drizzle of oil for moisture.
With love from our simple kitchen to yours.
Get Free Recipes Sent to Your Email
Don’t miss a thing!
Other Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
Rotini Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces tri-color rotini, See Note #6 if using white rotini
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 large lemon
- 8 ounces colby jack cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup chopped pepperoncini
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained
- 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley
- 16 ounces Italian dressing, store bought or homemade
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the rotini noodles until they are soft. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water until they have cooled completely. Place rotini in a large mixing bowl.
- Pit, peel and dice the avocado and immediately squeeze lemon over the pieces. Toss them to coat with the lemon juice – this prevents browning on the avocado.
- Add avocado, diced cheese, tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, and bacon to the bowl of pasta. Toss to distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss again, adding in the chopped parsley and stirring gently (the avocado will get smashed up if you toss the salad too vigorously.)
- Refrigerate salad until ready to serve. Just before serving, toss with remaining salad dressing, to taste.
- Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- For the Italian dressing, you can use homemade or store bought. We like Newman’s Own and Berenstein’s Italian dressings. They both make a cheese and garlic version that would be perfect with this recipe.
- Substitute diced salami or grilled chicken for the bacon (or use all three!) Fresh parmesan cheese would be another great addition.
- The pasta absorbs the salad dressing as it sits. This salad is especially great chilled. I recommend tossing with half of the dressing and then let it sit. Then add the remaining dressing (or enough to suit your personal taste) just before serving.
- We like the tang and crunch from the pepperoncinis, but you can omit them if you don’t care for them. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Pepper Jack are all great cheese options.
- The tri-color rotini comes in a 12 ounce box, while the all white rotini box is 16 ounces. Either one will work with this recipe but you may need additional dressing if using an entire box of white rotini.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published March 2019, last updated and republished April 2022.
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links does not affect your cost but does provide a small commission to us. Thank you for helping to support us so we can continue creating new recipes for you!