Hold on to your salad tongs and get ready for a flavor fiesta like no other with this Ranch Pasta Salad! THE summer recipe that’s about to rock your taste buds with a wild combination of creamy ranch dressing, twirly pasta, and a medley of colorful veggies. This salad is so cool, it’s practically doing the salsa while you chop those fresh ingredients. So, ditch the ordinary and saddle up for a rodeo of flavors that will have your fork line-dancing with delight.
Why You’ll Love This Ranch Pasta Salad
- Rich and Creamy: Instead of the traditional dressing, this salad uses ranch giving it a super creamy finish.
- Make-Ahead: This tastes BETTER as it sits, which makes it the perfect make-ahead side dish!
- Customizable: Add your favorite veggies, or leave some out! This dish is very easy to customize.
I’m no novice when it comes to pasta salad. It is a summer staple in our home and one of our favorite ways to load up on our veggies during the warm months. So easy to customize and a sweet tang. HOWEVER, my son recently asked if we could recreate this classic summer side with his favorite dressing: ranch.
Boy, oh boy, am I glad the teen requested this one. It is SO DANG GOOD. This cold pasta dish delivers a harmonious blend of flavors. The creamy and tangy ranch dressing infuses the pasta, creating a rich and savory base, and the combination of cool, crisp vegetables adds a refreshing crunch, while the herbs and seasonings in the dressing provide an extra layer of zing. Overall, it’s a delightful balance of creamy, tangy, and fresh flavors that will leave your taste buds dancing with satisfaction.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Ingredients
You’ll be surprised when you see that this recipe calls for almost all of the staples of a classic salad, with a few minor exceptions. We have made this over a dozen times now and these are our go-to ingredients:
- Mayonnaise: I’m a fan of Best Foods mayo. It’s rich, creamy, and the perfect flavor to pair with ranch seasoning. You can use whatever brand is your typical go-to.
- Sour Cream: To add a slight bit of tang, I add just a touch of sour cream. Optional, you could substitute this and the mayo with plain Greek yogurt.
- Seasonings: Ranch seasoning, pepper and garlic powder all make an appearance in the dressing.
- Milk: Whisking just a touch of milk in with the thicker ingredients helps to thin things out. This makes sure that the dressing coats all of the salad evenly.
- Pasta: I love a spiral pasta, like rotini. Whatever shape you have on hand will work!
- Bacon: Everything is better than bacon, but especially this recipe! I use half a pound, but you can add more or less to taste.
- Vegetables: Here is where you can get really creative. I like to add cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and red onion. You can add honestly almost any vegetable. We’re looking forward to trying broccoli and bell pepper!
How To Make Bacon Pasta Salad
This recipe is super simple to make and requires very little work. I suggest baking the bacon for this recipe. You get an even cook on every single piece and it’s fuss-free!
- PREP: Cook the pasta according to the package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water to help cool the pasta. Set aside while you make the dressing.
- DRESSING: Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch seasoning, pepper, garlic powder, and milk in a medium measuring cup. Set aside for later.
- MIX: Toss together the cooled pasta, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, onion, and prepared dressing until well coated.
- CHILL: Chill one hour, or up to overnight, and enjoy!
- Mixing Bowls: You need a large mixing bowl to get this pulled together. I really love this set (affiliate). It comes with a few sizes and they all have secure lids, which means you can store the pasta salad in the same bowl you stir it in!
- Airtight Container: This salad will stay fresh longer if stored inside a quality food container (affiliate).
- Cutting Board: This calls for a lot of chopped veggies. I suggest picking up this cutting board set (affiliate). It comes with three sizes and is fairly inexpensive.
Yes, you can use various types of pasta for a pasta salad. The choice of pasta depends on your personal preference and the desired texture of the salad. Short pasta shapes like rotini, fusilli, penne, or farfalle work well as they can hold the dressing and other ingredients.
Absolutely! Making a ranch dressing pasta salad in advance and refrigerating it is a great idea. In fact, it can even enhance the flavors as the salad marinates and the ingredients meld together over time. After preparing the salad, cover it tightly or transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to develop and the dressing to coat the pasta and veggies thoroughly.
When it comes to adding vegetables to a ranch pasta salad, the possibilities are practically endless. Here are some popular options to consider: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, sliced or grated carrots, broccoli, peas, and olives. You might even consider adding shredded cheddar cheese!
Absolutely! Adding protein to make this a chicken bacon ranch pasta salad can elevate its flavor and make it more satisfying as a meal. Grilled chicken and bacon are excellent choices that pair well with the creamy ranch dressing. Here are a few options for incorporating protein into your salad:
Adding additional seasonings and herbs can take the flavor of your ranch pasta salad to the next level. Here are some suggestions to enhance the taste: dill, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, or parsley!
Remember to taste and adjust the seasonings as you go, adding more if desired. These additional seasonings and herbs can add complexity and depth to your ranch pasta salad, making it even more enjoyable to eat.
Ranch Pasta Salad
- 8 oz Rotini pasta
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 (1oz) packet ranch seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 lb bacon cooked and chopped
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives drained
- 1/2 large cucumber diced
- 1/4 red onion diced
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water to help cool the pasta. Set aside while you make the dressing.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch seasoning, pepper, garlic powder, and milk in a medium measuring cup. Set aside for later.
- Toss together the cooled pasta, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, onion, and prepared dressing until well coated.
- Chill one hour, or up to overnight, and enjoy!