Ranch Pasta Salad With Bacon is a rich and creamy side dish that pairs super well with all your summertime favorites. Prep this 30-minute, one-bowl salad and it will be a welcome addition to your next pool party, potluck, or neighborhood barbeque. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
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Pasta and bacon salad is a delicious and easy-to-make meal that is sure to please any crowd. It's a hearty and flavorful dish that is cool and refreshing; perfect to bring to any get-together, and we love this salad for summer parties. Plus, it's easy to customize with additional fresh ingredients!
This recipe features a creamy and flavorful dressing combined with a variety of textures and flavors from the pasta, bacon, vegetables, and cheese. With only thirty minutes needed to prepare this dish, you can easily toss it together at the start of your day, and then put it in your fridge until you’re ready to enjoy! And you know what, this pasta salad is just as good the next day.
Another salad we love that is super crunchy is easy to make is this Wedge Ceasar Salad. Yes, it has bacon on it too! Bake a batch of these crispy savory Cotswold Cheese Crackers to go with these salads, they are super easy to make.
- Rotini—Cooked and cooled to room temperature. I like the multi-colored pasta.
- Bacon—Lean. Cooked to desired crispness and crumbled. You can even use turkey bacon.
- Grape Tomatoes—Or cherry tomatoes. Halved.
- Green Peas—Thawed frozen, canned, or fresh sweet peas
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese— Diced into bite-sized cubes.
- Mayonnaise—The flavorful and creamy base for your pasta salad dressing.
- Sour Cream—Adds tanginess to this rich and hearty salad.
- Ranch Dressing Mix — like Hidden Valley, Or your own homemade ranch dressing.
- Milk—Any kind of cow or plant milk. Used to thin out the dressing.
- Salt and Pepper - Optional
Equipment You’ll Need
- Mixing bowls: One to combine your ingredients for the dressing and a large mixing bowl to toss it all together.
- Cutting board and knife: To chop your tomatoes and to dice your cheddar cheese.
- Whisk or fork: To mix the dressing ingredients together.
- A medium-sized skillet for the bacon, and a medium-sized saucepan for the pasta.
- Serving utensils: To serve the pasta salad, a large serving spoon will do the job.
- Lid or plastic wrap: You will want to keep your pasta salad covered while cooling in the fridge. Choose a mixing bowl with a lid or consider using plastic wrap.
How to Make Ranch Pasta Salad with Bacon: Step by Step
Step 1. Stack the bacon and cut into ¼ inch slices and fry in a hot skillet until crispy and drain on a paper towel.
Step 2. While the bacon is cooking, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the hot pasta and let it cool to room temperature.
Step 3. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, and dry ranch powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 4. In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, bacon, grape tomatoes, green peas, and cheddar cheese. Toss gently to mix.
Step 5. Pour the ranch dressing over the pasta mixture and toss to coat.
Step 6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to get this salad nice and cold then serve and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Peas can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or place the frozen peas in a colander and run cold water over them until thawed.
- You can add toppings to your pasta salad to enhance its flavor and texture. We recommend adding crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped fresh herbs, or toasted nuts.
- This tip is very important - Don’t let your pasta salad sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature and can cause foodborne illness.
- This is a great salad for on the go by serving it in mason jars! Perfect for picnics or packed lunches.
- I think this is the best pasta salad for meal preps as it doesn't get mushy.
Pasta salad variations
There are so many ways to change up this salad
- Adding shrimp, salmon or leftover chicken makes this a hearty protein-packed salad and is perfect for dinner.
- Add dill pickles or even fresh dill
- Add more fresh veggies, try dicing up an orange bell pepper, or even a red, yellow, or green pepper.
- Try adding black olives, sliced green onions, or dice red onion.
- Add some Italian flavors with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.
Of course not! You can use whatever pasta pleases you. However, we suggest you use a shorter noodle. Some other noodles that might meet your fancy could be elbow noodles, penne pasta, or bow tie pasta.
It’s all in how long you cook your pasta. Make sure to cook your pasta al dente, which means it’s cooked but still firm to the bite. Overcooked pasta will become mushy when mixed with the dressing and other ingredients.
If you are having trouble with pasta sticking together, there are a couple of things you can do. First, add salt and oil to the water as it comes to a boil. While your pasta cooks, be sure to stir it frequently and avoid overcooking it. Once the pasta is finished cooking, rinse it with cold water and toss the noodles with a little bit of olive oil.
Store your pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge. When stored in an airtight container, you can store this pasta salad for up to 5 days.
This pasta salad is best served cold and can be left out of the fridge for up to two hours before it should be returned to the fridge.
More to make and eat!
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Ranch Pasta Salad with Bacon
- 1 Small mixing bowl
- 12 ounces Dry rotini pasta cooked and cooled to room temperature
- ⅔ cup Mayonnaise
- ⅔ cup Sour cream
- ⅓ cup Milk
- 1 ounce Packet of dry ranch dip such as Hidden Valley Ranch
- 6 slices Bacon
- 9 ounces Frozen green peas
- 1 cup Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Grape tomatoes sliced
- Fry the bacon first. Stack the bacon and cut it into small slices and then fry in a medium-sized skillet until crispy. Drain the bacon on a paper towel.
- In a medium-sized saucepan cook the rotini according to the package directions. When done drain the pasta and let it cool to room temperature.
- Set the cheese on a cutting board and cut it into small cubes with a chef's knife. Set aside.
- On the same cutting board, cut the grape tomatoes in half.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, the dry ranch mix, and milk. Stir or whisk until you have a creamy dressing.
- In a large mixing bowl add the cooled pasta, cubed cheese, sliced tomatoes, thawed peas, and cooked bacon. Toss this mixture to combine.
- Pour the ranch dressing over the pasta and toss to combine.
- Cover the bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes. For the best flavor serve the pasta cold. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- Red onion
- Different types of cheeses
- Other types of pasta or elbow macaroni
- Herbs and spices
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.
Linda L May
I'm going to make this Sunday for lunch.
It looks so delicious.