Welcome, hungry friends! If you're in need of a hearty and delicious side dish that's sure to please even the pickiest eaters, then today is your lucky day. This bacon ranch pasta salad has an amazing flavor with its classic combination of bacon, homemade ranch dressing, vegetables, cheese and pasta – it’s the perfect balance of savory and tangy. Not only is this salad easy to whip up for any event or gathering, but is sure to please a crowd!
I have been making this pasta salad for many years. The family loves it and asks for it often! It's funny for me because ranch dressing is not my favorite dressing at all for a garden salad, but it seems to be amazing in pasta salad and few other dishes.
When I first made this creamy ranch pasta salad with bacon, I used a ranch seasoning packet from the store. We now use homemade ranch seasoning and you would be surprised how easy it is to make! You can use a store bought packet if you prefer.
We also make a regular ranch pasta salad that does not have any bacon or cheese, but we really love bacon here so we make this one more! Both salads are amazing tho.
Pasta - Use your favorite pasta, we like to use a smaller pasta like small shells or even elbows.
Bacon - We like to use real bacon pieces in our cheddar bacon ranch pasta salad. They are usually in the salad dressing isle. You can always use fresh bacon cooked and crumbled which would be about 4 ounces before cooking (of course you can add more to your liking.)
You can also use bacon bits, but we recommend using real bacon and not imitation.
Cheese - We like to use a cheddar mix, but you can use your favorite. Bagged shredded cheese is good and so is fresh shredded. We usually use the bagged for this bacon ranch pasta salad.
Peppers - You can mix and match the peppers. If you want all red peppers, then use them. If you want to add green, that works great too.
Scallions - Scallions are usually best in a salad like this due to their mild flavor, but you can use leeks or even a quarter cup of finely chopped red onion. Scallions or leeks are best, especially if young children will be eating the salad.
Carrot - No substitutions recommended.
Mayo - Use your favorite, I do recommend real mayo and not Miracle Whip for this salad.
Milk - We use whole milk, but you can use a lower fat milk.
Ranch seasoning - We love the homemade ranch seasoning, but you can use a store bought packet of Ranch seasoning in it's place.
Garlic powder - No substitutions recommended.
Salt - Optional, add to taste.
What else can I add to creamy bacon ranch pasta salad?
Creamy bacon ranch pasta salad is a flexible salad to make. You can easily add different vegetables to your salad as well if you like! These are some of our favorites:
- Tomatoes - Chopped tomatoes are always good in a pasta salad! I would add these right before serving to keep the best flavor and texture.
- Cucumbers - You can cut a cucumber into bite size pieces and add it into the salad. If you add cucumbers, they can go in with peppers and other veggies.
- Lettuce - Finely chop up lettuce and add to the salad. If you add the lettuce and the tomato, you will have a BLT pasta salad - yummy!
- Avocado - I love avocado and sometimes cut one up to top the creamy bacon ranch pasta salad with. I do recommend that you cut it just before serving and allow people to top their salad with it. Avocado does brown very quickly.
Frequently asked questions
This is a personal preference. I like it best right after making it while it is still creamy, but my family likes it best after sitting in the fridge for an hour. After it sits in the fridge, the noodles will soak up some of the dressing. No worries, add a tablespoon or 2 or milk and stir. This will help to bring back some of the creaminess.
It will last for about 4 days in the fridge. The bacon will get softer and the flavors will change the longer it sits in the fridge.
Yes! This recipe can easily be cut in half. We quite often make half a batch if it is just us eating it. Everything should be pretty easy to halve and the vegetables don't have to be exact.
Other great salads:
If you love our bacon ranch pasta salad, you might also love these side dish salads which are great for cookouts!
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- Mixing bowls - A good set of stainless steel mixing bowls is something that I think every home cook should have!
- Grater/shredder - Something we use all the time here for cheese and vegetables.
- Spatulas - I like to always have a set of silicone spatulas in the kitchen. They come in handy for everything from scraping things out of the bowl to scraping things out of jars. One thing to note is that I prefer to have silicone spatulas that are all one solid piece. If the head is a piece that slides on and off of the base, you may get mold under.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces pasta
- 1 carrot shredded
- ½ red pepper chopped
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- ½ orange pepper chopped
- ⅔ cup real bacon pieces see notes
- 1 cup shredded cheese cheddar mix recommended
- 4 scallions whole scallions chopped
- 3 tablespoon 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
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt see notes before adding
- Cook pasta according to directions on package. Rinse with cold water until it is cooled down.16 ounces pasta
- Mix together the scallions, ranch seasoning, mayo, milk, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.4 scallions, 3 tablespoon Homemade Ranch Seasoning, 1½ cups mayo, ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add cooled pasta, shredded carrot, chopped peppers, bacon and cheese to a large mixing bowl. Stir until it is mixed completely.1 carrot, ½ red pepper, ½ yellow pepper, ½ orange pepper, ⅔ cup real bacon pieces, 1 cup shredded cheese
- Pour the dressing mix over the pasta mix and stir well. Can serve immediately or refrigerate for later.Optional - garnish with extra cheese and bacon pieces.