This Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is the Perfect Summer Side Dish

I am always such a fan of pretty much any kind of pasta salad, but the bacon ranch pasta salad I’m going to share with you today is my all-time favorite! I love making pasta salads in the summer because if you beef them up with plenty of protein like grilled chicken, they make a perfect filling dinner or lunch that doesn’t heat up the house at all. While grilled or baked chicken is lovely, my favorite way to add chicken is chopping up the Costco rotisserie chicken for recipes like this.

One of my neighbors buys at least 5 Costco rotisserie chickens at a time, debones all of them and freezes them in ready to use portions to add to things like salads, soups and casseroles anytime she needs it. This is such a great idea and is something I really would like to start doing.

Today’s pasta salad is so delicious and full of different textures and flavors and the star is everybody’s favorite--bacon!! Bacon is a sure-fire way to make anything even better, don’t you think? You start with any short pasta--you want to be able to fork the pasta along with other little bites of veggies, cheese and protein--so this particular recipe calls for the tri-color rotini pasta, which makes the salad even more colorful and appetizing. Next, we will make the saucy mixture of mayo, sour cream, milk, garlic powder and dry ranch dressing mix. You can use a homemade concoction, but the Hidden Valley packet brings flavor and the nostalgic taste we all love. And lastly are the mix-ins to give it more flavor and crunch.

I like to add chopped bacon bits, diced tomato, sliced black olives, sunflower seeds for crunch, and of course cheddar cheese. If you are a fan of broccoli, one pasta salad called for finely chopped broccoli florets that you add in to the pasta in its final minute of cooking so they are not raw, but still have considerable crunch. I love this addition to the salad, so feel free to try that little tip next time you make pasta salad.

How to Get Perfect Al Dente Noodles That Don’t Get Mushy

One problem that can happen with pasta salad if you forget this step is that the pasta salad seems fine when you first make it, but a couple hours later, your noodles have turned mushy and the salad is a little on the watery side. To prevent this, rinse the pasta with cold water after it is done cooking. This not only stops the cooking so the noodles stay firm, but removes the starch so the noodles don’t stick together. And then after rinsing them, it is important to get your noodles as dry as possible so your salad doesn’t get watery. You can use your trusty salad spinner, or drain them in the colander as much as possible, then leave them in the colander and stir every couple minutes for about 10 minutes, until they are as dry as possible.

Do you have a favorite kind of pasta salad you like to make in the summertime? I think they make such a great main dish or side dish for a backyard barbeque or potluck. I hope you’ll give this bacon ranch pasta salad recipe a try. I’m just sure you’ll love it!

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad - Life In The Lofthouse

Tender pasta is coated in creamy ranch dressing, bacon and lots of other goodies in this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. This pasta salad is perfect for summer barbecues and is always a hit! I have one delicious recipe to share with you all today! It’s my Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and it is divine. It’s...

Serving size: 8
Calories per serving: 280

1 package (12 ounces) tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package (1 ounce) dry ranch salad dressing /seasoning mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup milk
8 slices cooked bacon, chopped (see notes below)
1 large tomato, diced
1 can (4.25 ounces) sliced black olives, drained
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rotini pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain water. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, dry ranch mix, garlic powder and milk. Add pasta, cooked bacon pieces, tomato, olives, sunflower seeds and cheese to the bowl. Gently toss to combine everything.

3. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

*I love to use Oscar Meyer packages of pre-cooked bacon pieces to save on time.
*When ready to serve, you can toss with a little extra milk if it seems dry.


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    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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