This Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad recipe is cool and refreshing, with a punch of flavor from crispy bacon and purple onion.
Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad
I took my favorite Broccoli Salad recipe and jazzed it up with some twirly rotini pasta and tossed it in a creamy and zippy dressing. You’re definitely going to love this twist on broccoli salad!
Ingredients for Broccoli Pasta Salad
Here’s the basic list of ingredients you’ll need in order to whip up this broccoli side dish. As always, you can find the full list of ingredients located in the printable recipe card below.
- Rotini Pasta – or any other short pasta shape
- Bacon – gives the salad a salty and smokey flavor!
- Broccoli – fresh broccoli works best
- Sunflower Seeds – you could also use sliced almonds or chopped pecans
- Purple Onion – adds a nice punch of flavor
- Red Wine Vinegar – you can also use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions
Have questions about certain ingredients and what you can swap them for? Here are some basic ingredient substitutions you can use when making this Broccoli Pasta Salad…
- Mayo – swap with Miracle Whip for a more tangy dressing.
- Sugar – swap with 2 tbsp of honey, or simply reduce for a less sweet dressing.
- Red Wine Vinegar – you can swap with apple cider vinegar or a white wine vinegar. Distilled vinegar is not ideal for this recipe.
- Sunflower Seeds – you can leave out the seeds completely or swap with sliced almonds, chopped pecans, walnuts, etc.
- Broccoli – not a broccoli fan? This pasta salad might not be for you… try my Macaroni Salad recipe instead.
- Cheese – try adding some shredded cheddar cheese for a savory note.
- Purple Onions – you can leave these out or swap with a yellow sweet onion. I would stay away from a white onion in this recipe.
How To Make Broccoli Pasta Salad
This recipe couldn’t be easier to whip up! It all comes together in just a few minutes, and can last in the fridge for up to 3 days, making it perfect for party prep.
BOIL PASTA & COOK BACON
Start by boiling the pasta in a pot of salted water and cook until the pasta is al dente, then drain and rinse pasta under cool water to stop the cooking process.
While the pasta is cooking, you can crisp up the bacon in a skillet and then chop into small pieces and set aside till later.
COMBINE SALAD INGREDIENTS
Add the cooked pasta, chopped broccoli, sunflower seeds and purple onion to a large bowl.
If you’re planning on serving the broccoli pasta salad right away, you can go ahead and add the chopped up bacon to the bowl before adding the dressing.
MAKE BROCCOLI SALAD DRESSING
Combine the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk to combine.
Taste the dressing and add more salt and pepper to taste. If you like your dressing more sweet, you can add a little more sugar.
Do You Cook Broccoli For Pasta Salad?
We’re not cooking the broccoli for this creamy pasta salad, so it’s going to be best to chop the florets into tiny pieces that are manageable to eat.
If you want your broccoli a little more tender, like in my Classic Italian Pasta Salad, try adding the broccoli florets to the boiling pasta in the last 2 minutes and then drain it with the pasta.
How To Store Pasta Salad
When you’re preparing a pasta salad, it’s best to not combine the dressing with the pasta salad until you’re ready to serve. Store the pasta in an air tight container in the fridge, with the dressing in a separate air tight container.
Just before serving, toss together and top with any extra crispy ingredients (the bacon in this case), and enjoy.
Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad (that’s already mixed) can be store in the fridge for up to 3 days, when stored in an airtight container.
If storing the salad and dressing separate, you can expect it to last up to 5 to 6 days.
I do not recommend freezing this pasta salad recipe. It’s best when served fresh.
I love how the creamy, sweet dressing soaks into the pasta and broccoli, coating each and every bite.
The addition of crispy bacon, nutty sunflower seeds and sweet purple onion just bring the whole dish to life.
More Creamy Pasta Salad Recipes
If you’re looking for the perfect creamy pasta salad to take to the next potluck or party, I’ve got a slew of delicious recipes for you to try.
I can’t wait for you to give this simple, yet satisfying, Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad recipe a try. I know you’re going to love it!
Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad Recipe
- 8 oz rotini pasta
- ½ lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped bite size pieces
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds, roasted
- ¼ cup purple onion, finely chopped
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, until al dente, and then drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process.
- Prepare the bacon while the pasta is cooking and set aside for use at the end.
- In a large bowl combine the chopped broccoli, pasta, sunflower seeds and purple onion.
For the dressing:
- Whisk together the mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Pour dressing over broccoli pasta mixture and toss to coat. Cover and store in fridge until ready to serve.
- Just before serving add in the chopped bacon and stir to combine. Enjoy!
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