It’s backyard BBQ season and I’ve always prided myself on delivering some unique side dish options for grill-out parties. This Bacon Macaroni Salad is really fast to stir together, packed with flavor, and has a unique ingredient: Charred Scallions!
Betsy and I live near one of the larger parks in Denver and every year we have dreams and plans to have “park days” a few times a month where we would just post up in a shady spot, fill a cooler with drinks, invite friends and play all day.
I think we end up doing it about once a month because we have young kiddos and it was much easier to not plan things.
But, when we do have park days, have a great side salad to go along with the grillables is always a good idea. So you better believe I’ll be bringing big containers of salads like this charred scallion & bacon macaroni salad.
- Want a spicy version? Try this Spicy Macaroni Salad!
What makes a good macaroni salad
My nightmare when it comes to pasta salads is the kind you find at deli sections that are swimming pools of mayo and dressing. The purpose a good dressing is just to hold everything together. This recipe has the right amount. No more and no less. It also has charred scallions, which maybe you didn’t know were a thing, but they are SO a thing.
Another thing that can make or break your bacon macaroni salad is how you cook the pasta. If you overcook the pasta, it’ll get really mushy and not hold up well. A perfect al dente pasta is key for a good pasta salad.
When it comes to what kind of pasta to use, elbow macaroni pasta is the standard, but it’s far from a rule. Any smaller extruded pasta works well!
Cooking the bacon for this salad
You can cook the bacon for this recipe however you want. I like to bake mine with some foil underneath for easy cleanup and because it makes it easier to pour off the bacon grease, which we will use because it’s delicious.
Bake your bacon until it’s really crispy, probably about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Be sure to rotate your pan if your oven cooks a bit unevenly like mine does.
Be sure to reserve some of the bacon grease which is a great flavor boost to the charred scallions!
The Charred Scallions
These guys bring the flavor. It’s crazy how addictive they are. Clean your scallions well and trim off the roots. Dry them and toss them with some reserved bacon grease and kosher salt.
Blast these under your broiler for 2-3 minutes. They cook really quickly so keep a close eye on them. Depending on the strength of your broiler they might need a minute on either side so watch them closely while they cook.
They are done when they are smoking and charred in places. They will still be a bit crispy in some spots, which is nice.
The Macaroni Salad Dressing
I can’t stand over-dressed pasta salads. This is just enough to hold everything together. You could always double it if you want more dressing, but it’s the right amount in my mind.
Just stir the mayo, vinegar (you could sub apple cider vinegar for the rice vinegar), mustard, and hot sauce together.
Then toss in your cooked and rinsed macaroni. Each piece should be lightly coated.
Then stir in your chopped crispy bacon and scallions in a large bowl.
Taste the bacon macaroni salad and season it with salt and pepper. It shouldn’t need much extra seasoning, but maybe a small pinch of both.
Enjoy a few park days this spring, everybody!
Easy substitutions for this bacon macaroni salad
There are so many substitutions to make beyond just using different noodles. Here are a few ideas!
- Boost the vegetables in the macaroni salad with celery, diced tomato, crunchy broccoli, or even diced pickles!
- Make a creamy dressing by adding a bit more mayo and adding some Greek yogurt to the dressing.
- Instead of bacon, use a rotisserie chicken for an easy protein boost to the salad.
- Cheese it up! Add some cubed sharp cheddar cheese or havarti cheese.
Charred Scallion & Bacon Macaroni Salad
- 12 oz. elbow macaroni, Cooked al dente
- 8 oz. bacon, baked
- 2 bunches scallions
- 1 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 teas hot sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bake bacon at 350 degrees F. on a baking sheet lined with foil until it’s very crispy, about 18-20 minutes. Pour off bacon grease, but reserve 1 tablespoon. Cook pasta according to package. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
- When bacon is done cooking, prep your scallions by cutting the root ends off and washing them well. Dry scallions and toss them with reserved bacon grease and a big pinch of kosher salt. Spread out scallions a baking sheet. Heat oven to broil.
- Broil scallions for about 2 minutes until they are charred in spots. Rotate pan if needed. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t completely burn. You might need slightly longer or shorter depending on your broiler.
- Let scallions cool. Meanwhile, whisk together mayo, vinegar, mustard, and hot sauce. Stir in cooked macaroni to coat with dressing.
- Roughly chop up bacon and scallions and stir into macaroni salad. Season with salt and pepper. Chill salad until served.