My 4-ingredient Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad combines cooked pasta with salty bacon and cheddar cheese bound together in a creamy ranch dressing. This Easy Pasta Salad not only tastes delicious, but it can be made in the time it takes to cook a pot of pasta.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
This Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is made in minutes, using 4 simple ingredients. Any 4-ingredient Pasta Salad Recipe is a winner in my book.
It is Simple Pasta Salad Recipes like this one that I like to cook when I am pushed for time, but still want to put something filling and tasty on the table.
This Easy Pasta Salad can also be made ahead, ideal for your next potluck, cookout, or picnic, where it is sure to be a hit with all your family and friends.
The bacon and cheese add great flavor to the salad and you can always add chicken if you need it as an easy weeknight meal too!
I prefer making this ahead of time, even a couple of days before my parties just because sometimes cooking when people are around gets distracting (especially with all those great smells in the kitchen!).
How to make Easy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:
- Cook the pasta noodles according to instructions on the packaging. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Once cooled place the cooked noodles into a large bowl.
- Slice up the pack of cooked bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Place your bacon slices into the large bowl, along with the pasta.
- Next, dice up the entire block of cheddar cheese into small bite-sized pieces.
- Add the cheese to the large bowl.
- Pour in the entire bottle of Olive Garden Ranch Dressing.
- Mix the ingredients together until well combined.
- Cover the bowl with some cling film and place the bowl in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Recipe ingredients & substitutions:
- PASTA: I used a box of bow tie noodles as they are a great shape for making a creamy bacon salad with. You can use any other shape of pasta, so use what you have in your own larder.
- CHEESE: an 8 oz block of Cheddar Cheese is ideal for this salad as it has a great sharp flavor. However, feel free to experiment and use any other variety of cheese that you and your family enjoy eating. For example feta, pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese would all work in this salad too.
- BACON: for ease I like to use a 6 oz box of pre-cooked bacon. However, you can buy regular bacon and cook it at home. Simply allow it to cool before adding to the rest of the salad ingredients. For regular bacon or turkey bacon, I recommend cooking in the air fryer, it’s so much faster and tastes great! For instructions, visit my blogging friend Katy Kicker, and her post on air fryer turkey bacon to get all the details you’ll need!
- DRESSING: for convenience I use a bottle of Olive Garden Ranch Dressing as it is my favorite ranch dressing and tastes great in this pasta salad. You can substitute with any other variety of ranch dressing.
This simple pasta salad tastes great served as it is, however, you can easily adapt the flavors depending on what you have in your refrigerator. Here are some suggestions:
- Stir through some shredded leftover chicken from the weekend’s roast.
- Add in some extra veggies, for example green peas, cherry tomatoes, diced bell peppers, cucumber, or canned sweetcorn.
- Some freshly chopped herbs like parsley or basil, would work in this salad too.
Should I rinse pasta when making pasta salad?
When making a cold pasta salad it does help to run the pasta under running water as the salad is going to be served cold anyway. This not only stops the pasta from cooking, but helps cool the pasta down, before adding to the other cold ingredients.
Can Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad be made ahead?
Yes, this easy pasta salad is a great make ahead dish. Prepare the salad earlier in the day, or even the day before, and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
How to store leftover Pasta Salad?
Covering it in plastic wrap helps keep any leftovers fresh until they’re needed again. Leftover pasta salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, ideal for a quick lunch on the go.
What to serve with Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad?
This tasty and versatile salad can be served on it’s own as a great tasting lunch or light dinner main. I like to keep things simple and serve with a dressed green salad or some fresh slices of tomato and cucumber.
It makes a great BBQ side, I often make a bowl of this salad when I have the grill on as it’s perfect salad to serve alongside your favorite burgers, hotdogs or BBQ chicken dishes.
It also happens to be the salad I like to take along to potlucks, cookouts or picnics as it can be made in advance and travels well when packed in a picnic bag.
Recipe hints & tips:
- If you decide to add extra veggies to this pasta salad, I recommend adding them just before serving so that the salad does not become soggy.
- For the best flavor I always recommend chilling the salad for 1 hour before serving, as this allows the flavors to meld together.
- This salad is not suitable for freezing as the salad dressing is likely to split when thawed.
Don’t miss these other delicious pasta salad recipes:
- Simple Pasta Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Greek Pasta Salad
- Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad
- Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Bow Tie Noodles
- 8 oz Block of Cheddar Cheese
- 6 oz Box Pre-Cooked Bacon
- 16 oz Bottle Olive Garden Ranch Dressing
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 663mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 10g
These are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen when preparing this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:
Freshware Bamboo Cutting Board – Wood Chopping Boards for Food Prep, Meat, Vegetables, Fruits, Crackers & Cheese, Set of 3J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL 31161-201 CLASSIC Chef’s Knife, 8 Inch, BlackOlive Garden Parmesan RANCH DRESSING (1-Bottle) ( Net wt. 16 FL OZ)Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher SafeEasy Pasta Salad Cookbook: 50 Delicious Pasta Salad RecipesCold Pasta Salad RecipesLoaded Salads