Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad: Cheese, Ranch, Bacon… all wrapped up in this cold pasta salad is one of our FAVORITE salad recipes to date! Add chicken to make a quick weeknight dinner that’s perfect
With spring and summer potlucks and barbecues just around the corner, this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a cold pasta salad recipe that you need on deck. Simple ingredients and prep work make this pasta salad a snap to put together.
Hey Fantabulosity readers, it’s Meg popping in from Meg’s Everyday Indulgence. I promise you are going to love today’s recipe, Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
A good pasta salad is so perfect to have in your wheelhouse.
Need a last-minute addition to a potluck? Pasta salad.
Need a side dish for your next barbecue? Pasta salad.
It really fits into all scenarios. Especially if you’re a Midwestern girl like me.
Easy Pasta Salad Ingredients
You only need 6 ingredients for this delicious pasta salad.
The first of course is the pasta. You can use whatever cut of pasta you prefer but I definitely recommend it being a short cut pasta. Elbows, penne, shells, bowties or my personal favorite
Ranch Dressing Packet
The ranch flavor comes from a ranch dressing packet, mayo
When you mix together the dressing for the pasta salad it will be runny. It’ll seem too runny but trust me, it’s just right. The magic to this pasta salad is making it ahead of time to allow it to soak up the delicious sauce and thicken up.
Note: You don’t have to make it the night before, but it should be mixed up at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to mingle.
And what makes this pasta salad its best self, is a whole pound of bacon.
It gets cooked up to crispy perfection before being stirred into the pasta salad. A pound may seem like a lot but with a pound of pasta, it’s the perfect amount!
Lastly, cubed cheddar cheese is added to the mix.
I firmly believe cheese makes most things better and that’s very true with this bacon ranch pasta salad. I personally prefer cubed cheese over shredded cheese in a pasta salad. Shredded seems to get a little weird in texture. Dare I say squishy?
And who doesn’t love a big bite of cheese with their creamy pasta?! It’s a way better option in my opinion.
I love the textures in this pasta salad. The pasta has that little bite, the bacon keeps its crispiness, the cheese is a little chewy and the creamy sauce brings it all together. I am not embarrassed to say I wanted to hide this from my whole family. I didn’t but I seriously considered it.
Optional Pasta Salad Mix-In Ideas
This pasta salad is super basic but I’ve listed some ideas of additional ingredients you can stir in to make it a little different and cater to your families tastes.
We like the basic ranch, bacon, cheese situation at our house for a side dish idea, but you can stir in sliced olives, diced tomatoes or sweet, green peas if that’s your jam.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Know what else I love? Being able to add a protein like chicken to an easy side dish like this, and transform it in to a jam-packed heartier dish, or even main dish recipe!
Feel free to grab a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, frozen cooked chicken cubes, or even make your own chicken super quick in the Instant Pot to keep this recipe quick and easy but hearty!
If you’re looking forward to warm weather and outdoor gatherings as much as me, keep this bacon ranch pasta salad in mind.
You will also love this amazing collection of pasta salads.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. short cut pasta
- 1 lb. bacon
- 1 1 oz. ranch dressing packet
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 cups cubed cheddar cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dice bacon into small pieces and add to the hot skillet. Cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing mix, mayonnaise and milk. Set aside.
- Once pasta is done, rinse well with cold water. Shake as much water off the pasta as possible. Add to the ranch mixture. Add bacon and cheese cubes. Stir well. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour or up to overnight. Stir again before serving.
If You Love This Pasta Salad Recipe, Then You’ll LOVE…
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The BEST Side Salad Recipe EVER.
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