Bacon and Avocado Macaroni Salad — Damn Delicious

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Bacon and Avocado Macaroni Salad

A simple macaroni salad loaded with fresh avocado and applewood smoked bacon tossed in a lemon-thyme dressing – the best macaroni salad I’ve ever had!

When Fresh & Easy started opening up around town, I honestly didn’t know what to think of it. I already had my grocery routine down, starting my Saturday morning grocery store errands at Trader Joe’s and then finishing up at my local grocery store. But surprisingly enough, I could find everything that I needed right at Fresh & Easy, saving me from an extra grocery store trip. Plus, their prices are very comparable to Trader Joe’s (if not cheaper), there are no lines to the cash register and they always have these weekly $5 off coupons (expires 7/7).

So with my most recent Fresh & Easy shopping adventure, I stocked up on some elbow macaroni pasta, bacon, avocado, fresh thyme and a bag of lemons in hopes of making an out-of-this-world-type macaroni salad. And boy, was I in for a treat.

This simple macaroni salad of just three main ingredients comes together so beautifully as they get tossed in an incredibly creamy lemon-thyme dressing. It has such a wonderful burst of fresh flavors with just enough savoriness from the fatty, crisp, salty bacon. It’s become my most favorite summer picnic recipes yet!

Bacon and Avocado Macaroni Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Loaded with fresh avocado and applewood smoked bacon tossed in a lemon-thyme dressing!


  • 12 ounces elbows pasta
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

For the lemon thyme dressing

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. To make the dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In a large bowl, combine pasta, bacon, avocado, lemon-thyme dressing, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with thyme.

Did you Make This Recipe?

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Disclosure: I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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With the avocado in this salad does it brown quickly? I was looking for a pasta salad I can make the night before. Thanks!

Yes, it will probably brown if you make it the night before. I’d suggest tossing it the night before and adding the avocado right before serving.

So u need a food prossesor.

A blender will also work.

I made this about six hours ahead of time and the avocado was still bright green. It also stayed green the whole meal…I think the lemon in the dressing helped.

you’re right, the lemon juice will keep it green up to 24 hrs later (and keep in refrig)

I’m thinking of making this for Thanksgiving, it says yields 4. Is that as a side dish serving size? Twelve ounces of elbows seems like it would serve more than 4 people? Thanks!

It serves about 4-6, but about 4 on the safe side. I promise you – people will be asking for seconds!

Loved it. I used turkey bacon and Greek yogurt to lighten up but is was so creamy and tasty. This is a new staple at my house!

You should try center cut bacon. I think it’s actually LESS fattening than turkey bacon and it’s way better.

It is! Agreed, Heidi! And more protein! 🙂

Thanks for the Greek yogurt tip!!

This recipe sounds delicious! You replaced the mayo for Greek yogurt?

Perfect. Thank you! New go to pasta salad. Only thing I did different was add more (light) mayo, well because I LOVE mayo.

This really sounds good, but I would not use that much sugar…..way too much 🙂

Looking for a good chicken fried rice recipe….would you have one of those ?

You can certainly adjust the amount of sugar to taste. As for a fried rice recipe – you can give this a try and substitute chicken for the shrimp:

Do you take all these pictures yourself? Or do you have someone come in and do it? They’re so amazing. They make me want to try everything you post.

Thank you, Diane. And yes, all the photos are taken myself.

you guys REALLY need a FaceBook site. if you already have one, can you send a link? HAD to share the avo and bacon mac… YUM! 🙂

Brad, we actually have a Facebook page. Here is the link: Thanks for the share!

Since it is summer and love avocado and bacon, together they were very tempting. I substituted some of the olive oil with the remaining bacon grease…ohh soo delicious!

This is a great base recipe. I am not a mayo lover though, and the mayo flavor was just too strong for me. I sprinkled extra lemon juice, salt and pepper on my plate and it was perfect.I may chop up a red onion and add it to whats left to add some crunch and zing.

Excited to make this for a work BBQ tomorrow! My husband and I are vegan so I’ll be using vegan mayo and veggie bacon. Super excited, it looks delicious.

Hey, I tried this salad tonight and it came out perfectly! I used slightly less lemon juice, and had to offset the intense flavour with a little more sugar…but otherwise it was great. I also added some yellow and red bell peppers to make it more colorful. I’ll definitely try this again. Thanks!

Hi. I don’t like sweet pasta salad like macaroni salads often are. If I leave out the sugar, will the recipe still be as good?

I actually have not tried this recipe omitting the sugar so I honestly cannot say what this would taste like without it!

This sounds delicious…thank you for sharing!

I made the dressing and it seems really this normal?

Not really – there should be some thickness/creaminess to it.

Oh dear lord, this is right up my alley as I’m an avocado & cold pasta salad junkie! Just wanted to say I stumbled upon & made your “Easiest overnight french toast bake” and now can’t stop meal planning as I want to make every single item on your blog! I think your palette & mine might be soulmates… 😉
I will be back to let you know how much I loved this pasta salad, thank you!

PLEASE HELP…. I just made a triple portion of this for a work bbq and mine did not turn out creamy at all, instead it is separated and oily. Did I mess up by adding the deessing to the pasta when it was still warm?

Yes, I think the hot pasta may have caused the dressing to separate. It may be best to let it cool just a bit before adding the dressing.

I don’t have a food processor. would just whipping this work?

Yes, absolutely! It may take some elbow grease but all in all, it should be fine.

This recipe is delicious! and easy to make! I made it for a family get together later today. Hope you don’t mind but I made a couple of substitutions- used fresh basil instead of thyme and used lemon olive oil. My husband thinks it is a keeper and our go to salad for the summer. Thanks for posting.

Absolutely fantastic. One tip: Make the dressing a few hours ahead – it’ll tighten up in the fridge. Five stars.

How many carbs per serving if you have to watch your carbs because you’re a diabetic!

Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

what are the calories per serving?

Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, I recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

I made this and have some feedback for anyone else considering making this:
– as discussed in an earlier comment this is not a make ahead or leftover. dish because of the avocado.
– I’m personally not a huge fan of the bacon and lemon combo. I would be interested in trying it with a creamier dressing with a more subdued flavor, rather than lemon, in order to let the bacon and avocado shine.
– my fiancé and I got about 10-12 side portions out of this
– I did whisk by hand instead of using a food pro and it came out just fine
– I estimated the calories using only one avocado and 12 ounces of pasta and it came out to 200 calories per serving if this divided into 12 servings.

Thank you for posting this recipe. I thought it was ok. The bacon was quite nice. Wasn’t a fan of the lemon flavour nor the sugar. It felt a bit ‘dessert like’. I added a bit of finely chopped celery for the crunch factor, and some hard boiled egg. Both were good options. I recommend adding a bit more thyme. I could hardly taste it. All in all, was good.

I made 3 portions of this and not much got eaten – can you freeze it?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

I love pasta salads and came upon this recipe while browsing online. I made this one tonight and its incredible. I love the light lemon flavor, the thyme, crunchy salty bacon, and the amazing avocado. All mixed together with the dressing. Its delicious.

Should it be kept refrigerated if not eaten right away? I assume due to the mayo.

I recommend storing in the refrigerator, but as always, please use your best judgment.

Hi, I just made this and it seems a bit sweet to my liking. How can I make it less sweet? I don’t mean next time, but for this one. Do I add more lemon or salt?? I don’t want to mess it up.

Martha, you can try adding additional mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil as needed. Hope that helps!

Made your dish this evening on a very hot South African day with our braai (BBQ) for about 15 pax and every single one of them LOVED it! Thank you!

This is great. I added corn, finely diced carrot and bits of broccoli for added nutrition. I also omitted the sugar and added a teaspoon of Coleman’s mustard. Amazing!

just made this recipe and it’s a keeper!
Even my picky eater asked for more…it’s soo yummy . I used my blender instead of food processor, worked great. I even added an extra avocado

Would it taste good with some chopped strawberries?

I’m sure it would! Give it a go and let us know how you liked it.

I did add chunky chopped strawberries, adding shortly before serving when I added the avocado and it was excellent! I will always add strawberries as it tasted so good and added a colorful look. I made the pasta and the dressing a few hours ahead of time.

That sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing how it turned out.

Come join me in my culinary adventures where we’ll be using simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated and elegant meals for the everyday home cook.

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