Warm weather is here in NJ and with warm weather comes grilling season! Tho a lot of us NJ natives have no problem with turning on the grill when it is snowing, but now is the time when everybody is cooking out. And what is better then pasta salad for a cookout? You guessed it, bacon ranch pasta salad.
I first made this 7 or 8 years ago. The family loved it! It's funny for me because ranch dressing is not my favorite dressing at all, but it seems to be amazing in pasta salad and few other dishes. But unless it is sriracha ranch, you won't find it on my garden salad ever.
If you do not like the bacon idea, then maybe the Ranch Pasta Salad will be better. I love bacon, but I know that not everybody does 🙂 You can vary this up a bit too if you wanted to keep the cheese and take away the bacon. I try to make recipes that are very flexible like that!
This is similar to my pasta salad that I posted years ago on my personal blog. I have made a few changes along the way, and it was time for an update - along with a new picture! I cringe when I look at the picture on the other post.
This is best if you make this in the morning or early afternoon so it has time to sit in fridge but not required. It will get a better flavor if it sits in the fridge for a bit first tho. This is great to have ready so you can turn on the grill later knowing that your side dish is made! It goes well with everything from grilled pork chops to grilled zucchini.
Making bacon ranch pasta salad
This is a very easy salad to make. You will cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. While your pasta is cooking, chop your scallions. I use the whole scallion so you will chop 3 whole scallions. They have a milder flavor then most onions and so they are more kid friendly when they are going to be raw in a salad.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water immediately. Rinse until the pasta is cooled down. Dump the pasta into a bowl or storage container and add the scallions. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour with a lid on but not tightly on.
While your pasta is cooling down, chop up your peppers and cucumber. I slice the cucumbers and quarter the slices. Also cook your bacon if using fresh. We use the precooked in this but you can always cook and crumble fresh bacon. You could probably use bacon bits, but I am not a fan of them and have never used them in this.
Putting it all together
Take pasta out of the fridge. Add in the chopped peppers, cucumber, cheese, crumbled bacon (or pulled apart if using precooked bacon) and shred your carrot into the mix.
In a separate bowl mix your mayo, ranch seasoning, garlic and milk. Stir into your pasta mix and refrigerate for at least an hour for the best flavor.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces pasta
- 3 scallions whole scallions chopped
- 1 carrot shredded
- ½ red pepper chopped
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- ½ orange pepper chopped
- 2½ Tbsp Homemade Ranch Seasoning or 1 package of store bought ranch mix
- 1½ cups mayo
- ½ cup milk might need a little more just before serving
- 8 slices bacon crumbled
- 1 cup shredded cheese recommended 4 cheese Mexican blend
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Chop your whole scallions while pasta is cooking.Once pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water until it is cooled down.Put in a container and add the scallions. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- While pasta is in fridge, chop your peppers and cucumber. Also cook and crumble your bacon unless you are using precooked bacon like we do.Add the bacon, vegetables (including shredded carrot) and cheese to your pasta. Stir well.
- In a separate bowl mix milk, mayo, garlic powder and ranch dressing mix.Add to your pasta mix and stir well. Refrigerate for at least an hour for best flavor.