With the perfect amount of bacon and cheese, this bacon ranch pasta salad is going to be your new favorite pasta salad! It is the perfect side dish for your next cookout.
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.
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.
Bacon ranch pasta salad is a flexible salad to make. Here are some common substitutes you can use. You can easily add different vegetables to your salad as well if you like!
Bacon - we like to use real bacon pieces which are packaged because we always have them on hand. 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.
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 a red onion in place of the scallions. I would add about 1 quarter cup finely chopped if using red onion. I do not recommend any other onions or it will have a strong taste.
Ranch seasoning - We love the homemade, but you can use a store bought packet of Ranch seasoning in it's place.
Frequently asked questions
You should make this salad earlier in the day and let it sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Longer is good too! The flavors blend together better the longer it sits in the fridge, but do not make it more then a day ahead of time.
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.
Cool the pasta fully
This is an important step for any pasta salad really, not just bacon ranch pasta salad.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Use the pasta you like most, we use different ones but really like small or medium shells.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water immediately. Rinse until the pasta is cooled down. This will stop the pasta from cooking any further and rinse away some of the excess starch.
Dump the pasta into a bowl or storage container and add the scallions. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Other great salads:
If you love our bacon ranch pasta salad, you might also love these side dish salads which are great for cookouts!
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces pasta
- 4 scallions whole scallions chopped
- 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 recommended 4 cheese Mexican blend
- 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.
- Pour pasta into the container you will be using and mix in the scallions. Place in fridge for about 30 minutes - no cover or at least cover loosely so moisture can escape.
- Mix together the ranch seasoning, mayo, milk, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Take pasta out of the fridge. Stir in the shredded carrot, peppers, bacon and cheese.
- Pour the dressing mix over the pasta mix and stir well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour for best flavor.