When it comes to pasta salad, everyone basically comes to expect the same thing time and again. It’s not that we don’t love the classic version – it’s definitely got a special place in our heart (and tummy) – but we needed to really change things up this go round, so we looked at some other classic dishes for inspiration and came up with something we think everyone will love…jalapeño popper macaroni salad! Using plenty of fresh jalapeños, lots of bacon, just the right amount of cream cheese and some garlic croutons for some extra crunch, this is the dish you’re not going to want to miss!
What we most love about this recipe is its versatility and customizability. The jalapeño isn’t too overwhelming, but of course you’re more than welcome to either add more, or go a little nuts with some chili powder or red pepper flakes to add more heat. The unexpected flavor is subtle, but distinct, and it’s a fun surprise biting into something that ends up being completely different from what you were anticipating. We made this for a pool party we went to a couple weeks ago and got rave reviews, and you will too!
Jalapeño Popper Salad
30 minutes to prepare serves 8
- 1 pound shell pasta or elbow macaroni
- 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup garlic croutons, optional
- 3/4 cup canned jalapeños, chopped
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, cubed or shredded
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to packaging directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, lemon juice, garlic and onion powders, and paprika together until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- In a separate, large bowl, combine pasta, croutons (if using), jalapeños, 1/2 crumbled bacon, and cheddar and pepper jack cheese.
- Gently stir dressing into macaroni and mix until everything is thoroughly coated.
- Top with remaining bacon and parsley, if using, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Chunky Chef