Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

5 from 9 votes
22 Comments

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Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad packs so much flavor into one easy-to-make dish. Perfect for picnics and potlucks!

Colorful bowl of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

This Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad comes together faster than you can make one of those boxed “Suddenly Salad” things. This recipe makes a huge bowl and it tastes so much better with fresh ingredients. Why cut corners when it doesn’t really even save you time or money? This is one of my favorite salads to bring to neighborhood picnics, church potlucks, summer bbqs, or just a weeknight family dinner.

This salad is hearty enough to serve as a main dish, or serve it anytime you’re barbecuing or grilling out. It’s perfect alongside Easy Smoked Ribs, our Grilled Pork Tenderloin or this Honey Barbecue Chicken recipe.

Ingredients to make Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

Ingredients in this Pasta Salad

The beauty of this creamy pasta salad is you can add or subtract ingredients depending on what you have on hand or what your kids will eat. It’s the perfect side dish no matter what. But here’s what we start with:

  • Pasta – Get creative with a pasta shape. You can use Cavatappi noodles, macaroni, rotini pasta, penne, bowties, small shells, etc.
  • Ranch seasoning mix – Using a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix makes for a deliciously creamy ranch dressing. 
  • Mayonnaise – or Miracle Whip if that’s your preference.
  • Sour cream – you can use reduced fat if desired.
  • Milk – for an extra creamy ranch dressing, use whole milk in this recipe.
  • Bacon – cooked and crumbled or chopped into bite size pieces. You can also use real bacon bits too.
  • Green peas – Frozen green peas, thawed are the best for this recipe.
  • Cheddar cheese – use a block to cut into cubes
  • Carrots – shredded
  • Cherry tomatoes – Cut the tomatoes in half or use grape tomatoes.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.
Ingredients in a colorful arrangement for Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

Additional Ingredients for this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe

Now’s the time to empty out your produce drawer in the refrigerator! Feel free to add any veggies you like in this salad. Here are some suggestions:

  • Chopped green onion
  • Red, yellow, or orange pepper
  • Red onions
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chopped fresh dill
  • Chives
  • Celery
  • Black olives
  • Broccoli
  • For added protein you can include chopped chicken to this recipe
Bowl with creamy salad mixture of tomatoes, cheddar cubes, peas, carrots and bacon.

Suggestions for Pasta Salad

  • Gather all your ingredients for your dressing and salad while the noodles cook and assemble it in just minutes. Pasta salad recipes like this one are super quick to make and feeds a crowd!
  • Assemble the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then in a small bowl, you can mix up the dressing mixture. 
  • Be sure to make this salad ahead of time so that it has time to cool in the fridge. If I plan ahead, I try to make pasta salads the day before because it gives the flavors time to mix together and settle.
  • Rinse the cooked pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process and give the noodles a chance to get cold enough to add to the rest of the salad ingredients.
  • If you are in a time crunch, pop the cooked noodles into the freezer for a few minutes before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Just make sure the noodles have time to cool completely. 
  • When you cook the bacon, chop it up beforehand and then cook it in little pieces so you don’t have to worry about crumbling it afterward. It speeds up the process a little bit.
Close up of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad on a wooden spoon.

How to Make a Healthier Version

For a lower calorie version of this salad, try using Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise and sour cream (which I have tried, and it is delicious). You can also use low-fat cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Another healthy substitution is turkey bacon instead of regular. My son actually likes turkey bacon more than regular bacon!

Top view of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

More Perfect Pasta Salads

Pasta salads are a perfect summer supper or side dish to grilled chicken, burgers, steak, you name it. Try some of our very favorite recipes:

How to Make Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad in a serving bowl.

Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

5 from 9 votes
Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad packs so much flavor into one easy-to-make dish. Perfect for picnics and potlucks!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
Refrigerate 1 hr
Total Time 21 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 10

Video

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook noodles according to package direction. Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature.
    Cooked noodles in a colander for Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.
  • While noodles are cooking/cooling, in a large bowl combine ranch seasoning, mayo, sour cream, and milk. Whisk until smooth.
    Bowl of creamy ranch sauce for pasta salad.
  • Stir in bacon, peas, cheese, carrots, and tomatoes into the ranch dressing.
    Bowl with creamy salad mixture of tomatoes, cheddar cubes, peas, carrots and bacon.
  • Slowly add noodles and stir until noodles are well covered in dressing and all ingredients mixed together.
    Top view of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.
  • Cover and refrigerate until serving.
    Add a little milk before serving if needed if it seems too dry (just a tablespoon or so). Stir well before serving.
    Top close up view of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad on a wooden spoon.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 449kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 13gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 530mgPotassium: 277mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2515IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 119mgIron: 1.1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made this, and it’s delicious but extremely salty. Any idea on how to remedy that? I think it’s the Ranch dip powder doing it.

    Thank you so an otherwise magnificent pasta salad!

    1. To balance the salt you can add more sour cream or mayo. Alternatively, you could use a little bit less of the ranch packet. Whichever works!

  2. I found that a bit of salt brings out the ranch flavor a bit more. But I was using unsalted bacon, so that might have been the difference.

  3. 5 stars
    This was the perfect side dish with our barbecue cookout last night! It has quickly become a family favorite, indeed!

  4. I was so happy to see this recipe in my Facebook newsfeed today. Finally a macaroni sald that does not use vinegar! I dislike the twangy taste the vinegar adds to the salad. Thank you, I’ll be trying this soon.

  5. How many servings does this make? We are making this for 250 people so we are trying to figure how many batches
    Thanks

    1. Wow that is a lot of people! It depends on if you are going to have a lot of other different dishes or if this is the main side-dish. If it is the main side dish I would plan on it serving 15-20… if there will be lots of side dishes you are probably safe planning on 30-40 depending on how big of eaters you have

      1. Ok. I figured we needed about 7 batches so I am right along your serving size for multiple dishes. We are serving it so the portion will be controlled. Thanks!

          1. 5 stars
            Just wanted to let you know this was a HUGE hit at our fundraiser! We made 8 batches and served close to 250 people. Tons of people asked for the recipie!