This bacon cheddar ranch pasta salad is perfect for potlucks or a cool summer dinner! It’s cheesy, it has bacon and it’s all drizzled with ranch dressing. There’s even a full serving of vegetables! Plus, it only takes minutes to throw together.
Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pasta Salad
Every summer gathering needs a pasta salad! I am all about the side dishes (and desserts!) when it comes to food functions, like this bacon cheddar ranch pasta salad.
Everyone else has their eyeballs on that rack of ribs or grilled sausages, but I’m over there loading up my plate with all the wonderful sides.
Everyone has their own favorite pasta salad. The beauty is that there’s no baking involved. That’s one of my first rules for summer cooking.
This salad is unique, yet at the same time a popular blend of flavors everyone loves. Bacon…cheddar…ranch. I don’t know why this trio is so tasty—I just eat it!
So, to make this bacon cheddar ranch pasta salad you’ll need some pasta. I’ve used rotini, but any short variety will do. Pasta salads have no rules!
BACON. Cook it until it’s nice and crispy, then crumble. Make extra for snacking on.
As for the cheese, I like it cubed so you get large bites of sharp cheddar. You could also shred it so you get a little bit in every bite.
To zest things up, I’ve added cherry tomatoes. I added them whole to the salad and discovered they’re impossibly slippery to stab with a fork. So definitely slice them in half.
I love adding broccoli florets as well since it punches up the nutrition! Fresh, raw (not frozen) broccoli is what you want to use.
If you want to sneak in more veggies, shredded carrots, fresh peas, chopped cucumber or bell peppers are also great options.
The whole salad comes together with an easy, creamy ranch dressing. There’s no flavor quite like ranch—tang from buttermilk along with savory herbs.
I use bottled dressing for convenience; you can add more or less to taste. I also mix in freshly ground black pepper for a little spice. For extra heat you can also add hot sauce.
If you happen to have leftovers and you happen to have some cooked chicken, this pasta salad magically transforms into an easy main dish!