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Hearty, creamy pasta salad loaded with bacon and spicy cream cheese dressing!
This incredibly easy and satisfying pasta salad is perfect for summer potlucks, backyard barbecues and just as a regular weeknight summer dinner.
Jalapeño Popper Pasta Salad
- 16 oz campanelle pasta
- 6-8 thick cut bacon strips
- 3 jalapeños
- 1 (7.5oz) tub Spicy Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread, Note 1
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse. (Tip: The dressing will stick to pasta better if it's not drained.)
- Cut bacon strips into small pieces and cook in a large skillet until nice and crispy.
- Cut jalapeños in half, scoop out the seeds and ribs. Then cut into small pieces. (Note: If you don't like too spicy food, make sure to remove all the white ribs inside, because that's where most of the heat comes from.)
- In a large bowl (I used 4qt bowl), whisk together cream cheese spread, reserved pasta water, parsley, black pepper and garlic powder. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth.
- Add hot pasta, bacon, chopped jalapeños and cheese. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Inspired by my favorite snack, bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers, I created this deliciously creamy and spicy pasta salad. This crowd-pleasing side dish/salad comes together super quick and easy. All you need is 30 minutes!
Time-Saving Tips to Make this Jalapeno Popper Pasta Salad
- While pasta water is coming to a boil, start cooking the bacon.
- Meanwhile, work on chopping jalapeños. Don’t forget to stir both pasta and bacon frequently in between.
- Mix the dressing ingredients right in the mixing bowl that you’re planning to serve the pasta salad. This 4qt mixing bowl is perfect for this recipe.
By the way, the fresh jalapenos don’t contribute to spiciness of the salad as much as you may think, because we remove the seeds and white ribs, where the most of the heat comes from. If you want to make a milder salad, swap the Spicy Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread with different flavored cream cheese spread.