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Packed with bacon, veggies, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing, this bacon ranch pasta salad is a must for your next cookout.

White bowl filled with bacon ranch pasta salad on a white countertop, with a second bowl visible in the background.

Summer is pasta salad season. I hope I’m not the first one to tell you!

I love whipping up a simple but delicious pasta salad to take to a summer cookout, to have for a light dinner, or to eat for lunch throughout the week. My Italian pasta salad and Greek pasta salad are always big hits when the weather warms up.

This year I decided I needed to add a couple more pasta salad recipes to my lineup. Up first is this bacon ranch pasta salad. It’s got a creamy, herby ranch dressing to go with some tomatoes, roasted red pepper, green onion, cheese, and – of course – salty bacon.

It’s a cinch to make and is bound to become a summer favorite for your family, too!

Spoon holding up a big bite of bacon ranch pasta salad, with a bowl of the salad in the background.

MY FAVORITE BACON RANCH PASTA SALAD

Do you ever visit the deli counter at your grocery store on days when you just don’t feel like making dinner?

I love checking out what salads they have throughout the year. When we’re in Florida, there’s a chicken salad I get at Publix that I can’t get enough of. And there’s always a whole assortment of pasta salads.

I love when I can find a bacon ranch pasta salad. The combo of salty bacon with the ranch dressing and the pasta is so good. But there isn’t always one available or sometimes the balance of flavors isn’t quite right.

So of course I had to make one myself. This one has just the right balance of ranch dressing, cooked and crumbled bacon, veggies, cheese, and pasta. It’s so easy to make and will disappear in a flash from any cookout buffet.

White bowl of bacon ranch pasta salad set on a green and white napkin.

HOW TO MAKE BACON RANCH PASTA SALAD

Making your own pasta salad is so easy. In fact, you might just find yourself making this bacon ranch pasta salad every week, it’s that good and that simple!

Ingredients you’ll need

Like most pasta salads, this recipe has two main components: the dressing and the mix-ins.

For the dressing, you will need:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons ranch seasoning 
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Ingredients for bacon ranch pasta salad arranged on a white countertop.

I like to use my homemade ranch seasoning in this recipe, but feel free to use one of the store-bought packets if that’s what you have on hand. 

I usually use Duke’s mayonnaise in this pasta salad dressing, but you can use any mayo you like best. You can even use homemade mayonnaise if you happen to have it handy.

For the pasta salad itself, you will need:

  • 1 pound dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces cooked bacon
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup sliced green or black olives (optional)
Cooked and drained rotini pasta in a colander for pasta salad.

I happen to prefer rotini pasta when I’m making pasta salad, but that’s just a personal preference. Feel free to use any shaped pasta that you like best. 

If you don’t have cherry tomatoes available, you can substitute 1 large diced tomato.

I really like roasted red peppers in this bacon ranch pasta salad – I think they pair really well with the dressing. But feel free to swap in diced bell pepper if you prefer. 

Everyone has an opinion on olives. If you like them, go ahead and add them to your salad! Otherwise, feel free to leave them out. 

Cook the bacon in whatever way you like. Did you know you can even cook bacon in a toaster oven?

Ranch dressing for pasta salad being whisked together in a glass mixing bowl.

Making this recipe

The first step to making this pasta salad is to cook the pasta. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Don’t forget to salt the water; it’s your only chance to season the pasta itself! 

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente – the time will depend on the shape of the pasta you choose, so check the package for directions.

Once the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain it well and toss it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Set the pasta aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients until well combined.

Tomatoes, cheese, bacon, and veggies being added to a white mixing bowl for pasta salad.

Grab a large mixing bowl (trust me, you’ll want a big bowl for this) and add the cooked pasta and all of the mix-ins. Add the dressing and toss to combine. 

Give the pasta salad a taste and add a pinch of salt or pepper to taste as needed.

Cover the bacon ranch pasta salad and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This will allow all of the seasonings in the dressing to fully hydrate and all of the flavors to meld together.

Serve this pasta salad alongside all of your other summer cookout faves: grilled chicken (made with the best grilled chicken marinade), watermelon lemonade, and cucumber salad.

Bacon ranch pasta salad being mixed with a spatula in a white mixing bowl.

RECIPE FAQS

What’s the best pasta to use in pasta salad?

I personally like to use rotini in my pasta salads, but you can use any shaped pasta that you like best. Penne is great, as is bow-tie pasta (farfalle). 

You could even channel macaroni salad and use elbow macaroni.

Just stay away from long pastas, like spaghetti or linguine. 

Can I add meat to make this bacon ranch pasta salad a full meal?

Absolutely! If you want to make this into a one-bowl meal, feel free to add some diced grilled chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken. You could even add some tuna if you want.

Close up of bacon ranch pasta salad in a white bowl. A silver serving spoon is also in the bowl.

How long is bacon ranch pasta salad good for?

Store bacon ranch pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Are there any substitutions I can make in this recipe?

Of course! The mix-ins I use in this recipe are just what I happen to think go best with the flavors of the ranch dressing, but feel free to get creative with your own favorites.

Try swapping the roasted red peppers for diced bell peppers or those tiny red pickled drop peppers (aka Biquinho peppers). 

Don’t have cheddar cheese? Use colby jack, smoked gouda, or any cheese you like best.

Whether you follow this bacon ranch pasta salad recipe to the letter or make it your own, this one is sure to become an annual summer favorite! 

Two white bowls filled with bacon ranch pasta salad, set on a white countertop with a green and white napkin.
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Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

By: Jamie
4.75 from 4 ratings
Prep: 30 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Packed with bacon, veggies, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing, this bacon ranch pasta salad is a must for your next cookout.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces cooked bacon chopped
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • ½ cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sliced green onions plus more for garnish
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup sliced green or black olives optional

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons ranch seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. When done, drain the pasta. Rinse with cold water, drain well, and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth and well combined.
  • In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, bacon, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cheese, green onions and olives (if using). Add the dressing and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding additional salt or pepper to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Video

Notes

You can swap the cherry tomatoes for 1 large tomato, diced.

Nutrition

Calories: 715kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 1607mg, Potassium: 504mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 533IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 153mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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