Ranch pasta salad is an easy yet delicious salad to bring to your next cookout! It has the perfect combination of ranch flavor along with vegetables and scallions.
With grilling season here I have another one of our favorite BBQ salads here. Yes I am one that will put the jacket on to go out to the grill - it is worth it! The Ranch pasta salad is cool because it is very flexible. Seriously, you can add most vegetables in it and it will be a success.
This is an easier version of our bacon ranch salad, which has bacon and cheese in it. Sometimes we want simple, who doesn't right? So this one is a bit easier and less ingredients but still rather flavorful.
You can use a Ranch seasoning packet, but we make our own and you can too! It's easy to make and there are no extra ingredients that you find in the store bought ones - you know the ingredients you cannot even pronounce 🙂
Our ranch seasoning mix is easy to make and we like to keep it on hand for many things. It is good on salads, chicken and even mixed into a thick sauce with cayenne to make homemade sriracha ranch!
This was just recently updated to include our own seasoning. The original seasoning mix we recommended is by Missy over at Graceful Little Honey Bee. You would use 3 tablespoons in place of a store bought packet.
Tips for making the salad
This ranch pasta salad is very easy to make but these are some tips to creating the perfect salad!
The pasta - Boil your pasta to al dente following the instructions on the package. We use shells usually for this, but use your favorite salad pasta. Once it is done, drain your pasta and rinse with cold water to cool down. This is important as it stops the noodles from cooking and it removes some of the starch from the outside of the pasta - I don't rinse hot pasta for spaghetti but it is a must for salads.
You need to be sure your pasta is fully cooled down before adding dressing.
The scallions - Chop up your scallions and add them to the cooled pasta in a container. Place in the refrigerator to completely cool the pasta down. About 1 hour should be long enough.
The vegetables - Chop your peppers and cucumber while the pasta is cooling down. Shred the carrot now as well. Do not add tomatoes until right before serving. The tomatoes taste better when they are added later. I do not even cut the tomatoes until right before serving. They get a weird flavor and texture if in the fridge for too long.
The dressing - This tastes best if you mix the mayo, garlic, milk and seasoning together early. Let it sit in a bowl in the fridge mixed while the pasta is cooling down. This lets the dressing get a nice flavor.
Assembling - Once the pasta is cooled down completely, stir in the vegetables (all but the tomatoes) and the dressing. This salad can sit in the fridge assembled before serving or you can put it together and on the table.
Tomatoes and garnish - Just before serving, add your chopped tomatoes and sprinkle with parsley for garnish.
Frequently asked questions
I don't recommend it. Ranch dressing in a bottle is thinner prepared then in the ranch pasta salad. I have not tried it with the bottled dressing, but I think the consistency would be too thin.
You can, but we don't recommend it here with this salad. Pasta soaks up dressing when the salad is in the fridge so you will need more dressing or to add more milk so it isn't dry.
It is best to be eaten in 3-4 days. The flavor will change slightly by the 4th day.
Pasta soaks up the dressing when it sits in the fridge. If you add the dressing ahead of time, it will likely get a little bit dry. Just add a tablespoon or 2 of milk to add some more moisture to the salad. You can also add a tablespoon of mayo, but we recommend milk.
This is a great cookout dish but is also a great side for many meals. We typically make this when we are grilling or having people over. Some great grilled dishes this goes with are: grilled T-bone steaks, grilled pork chops and grilled chicken with garlic sauce.
It also goes well with hamburgers and hot dogs!
Other great salads
If you like our ranch pasta salad, you might also like these great cookout salads!
Ranch Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces pasta
- 3 scallions chopped greens and all
- 1/2 red pepper chopped
- 1/2 yellow pepper chopped
- 1 cucumber quartered and sliced
- 1 carrot shredded
- 2 tomatoes medium sized - chopped
- 3 tbsp Homemade Ranch Seasoning or 1 oz package from store
- 1 1/2 cups mayo
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp parsley for garnish - more if needed
- In a medium bowl mix the mayo, milk, garlic, and Homemade Ranch Seasoning (or seasoning packet.) Place in fridge until the salad is ready to be assembled.
- Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool down. Put into a container and add the scallions, place in the refrigerator until the pasta is cold - about 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
- Once pasta and scallions are cold, add in the chopped pepper, cucumber and shredded carrot. Stir well to combine.
- Pour the dressing into the pasta mix and stir well.
- Just before serving add in the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Sprinkle parsley on top for garnish.Enjoy!