Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon ranch pasta salad in a serving bowl.

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 38 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 23 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Yield: 1 bowl

The flavors of bacon, tomatoes, and ranch-style dressing make this pasta salad an excellent choice for a potluck or cookout. The recipe makes a big batch of pasta salad and it's easy to double for a crowd.

Dry ranch dressing mix is combined with mayonnaise and sour cream to make the savory dressing. If you don't have the dressing mix, feel free to use about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of prepared ranch-style dressing.

Cheese is optional, but it does increase the protein to the salad. Another way to make the mixture heartier and more abundant in protein is to add drained beans or chickpeas. Diced cooked turkey or chicken, or cooked shrimp would be excellent as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 (1-ounce) packets Ranch dressing dry mix (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 10 strips thick bacon (diced)
  • 1 pound rotini (or a similar short pasta shape
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 2 cans sliced ripe olives (drained)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bacon ranch pasta salad.
    Diana Rattray
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dressing mixture until it is time to make the salad.

    A bowl with the ranch dressing and mayonnaise combined.
    Diana Rattray
  3. Put the diced bacon in a large skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it is browned and beginning to crisp. Use a slotted spatula to remove the bacon to paper towels to drain. Let the bacon drippings cool slightly and then pour them into a container to use in future dishes.

    Diced bacon cooking in a skillet.
    Diana Rattray
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the rotini and turn the heat down to maintain a gentle boil and cook according to the package directions, usually about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the pasta and let it cool.

    Rotini pasta in a colander.
    Diana Rattray
  5. Put the cooled pasta in a large bowl and add the cooked drained bacon, the halved tomatoes, diced celery, and olives to the bowl. Toss gently to combine.

    Adding the vegetables to the pasta salad.
    Diana Rattray
  6. Add the dressing mixture and gently fold it in until the pasta and vegetables are well coated.

    Mixing the bacon ranch pasta salad.
    Diana Rattray
  7. Transfer the pasta salad to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving time.

    Bacon ranch pasta salad in a serving bowl.
    Diana Rattray

Tips

  • Don't overcook the pasta; cook to the recommended time given on the package. The slightly firm pasta will absorb the dressing without becoming mushy.
  • To Make a Day in Advance: Prepare all ingredients and refrigerate them in separate containers. Just before serving time, combine the ingredients with the dressing. Toss and refrigerate until serving.
  • If serving outdoors, keep the salad in a cooler or rest the bowl in a larger bowl of crushed ice. Cold food should never be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 F).

Recipe Variations

  • For a lighter dressing, replace about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with milk and use reduced-calorie sour cream.