Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a simple but flavorful dish that is perfect for summertime entertaining. This easy pasta salad can be made the night before and served for large parties. A delicious side dish everyone will love.

wooden spoon lifting a scoop of bacon ranch pasta salad.

Bacon ranch pasta salad is the kind of pasta salad that sticks in one’s memory, kind of like a Cracker Barrel coleslaw or deviled egg potato salad.

If you’re the one who brings it, trust that you’ll be asked to bring it every time. I actually got the recipe from my aunt.

This twist on a traditional macaroni salad is made with a creamy tangy dressing made from sour cream, mayo, and ranch seasoning mix and it’s fully loaded with tri-color pasta, briny olives, broccoli, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, and salty bacon for crunch!

It’s not your average side dish, but let’s be honest, we’re eating way more than a side portion anyway. Pair it with a chicken breast for a full meal.

Ranch Pasta Salad with Bacon

gold fork getting a bite of bacon ranch pasta salad.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Everyone loves it – Kids, adults, aunties, cousins, I’m talking EVERYONE.
  • Tons of flavor – So much going on in this salad that works together perfectly. It’s insanely good.
  • Can be made ahead – This is especially true if you don’t toss it in the dressing right away. Even still, it’ll taste even better the next day.
serving dish of bacon ranch pasta salad with a wooden spoon.

Helpful Tools

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

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  • Ranch seasoning mix – I always keep my homemade ranch seasoning mix on hand for times like these, but you can also use 1 packet of store-bought mix.
  • For the creamy dressing – Sour cream, mayo, and milk. 2% milk is what I use for a richer, thicker consistency.
  • Pasta – Tri color, garden blend rotini is spinach and tomato pasta which adds a beautiful color to the ranch bacon pasta salad. If you can’t find this, any medium or short pasta will do.
  • Olives – I add both green and black olives. For a shortcut, I use jars of sliced olives but go ahead and slice your own if you prefer.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower – Chopped into small, bite-sized florets.
  • Sunflower seeds – For crunch and a nutty flavor.
  • Bacon – Cooked and crumbled. I like oven baked bacon. Feel free to use store-bought bacon pieces, but make sure they’re the real deal, not the artificial bits.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make ranch bacon pasta salad.

How to make Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

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  1. Step One: Combine the ranch mix, sour cream, mayo, and milk in a bowl and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit and thicken for 30 minutes.
  1. Step Two: Cook the noodles according to package directions. Use salted boiling water for extra flavor. Once, they’re ready, drain and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Transfer them to a large bowl.
tri-colored rotini in a colander.
  1. Step Three: Add the olives, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and bacon, and pour the thickened dressing over everything. Toss to make sure everything is fully coated.
  1. Step Four: Chill in the fridge to allow the flavors to marry. Just before serving, garnish with extra bacon bits. Enjoy!
glass mixing bowl of tri-colored pasta salad.

How to serve it

This incredibly delicious ranch bacon pasta salad is perfectly capable of standing on its own as a main meal. However, it’s even better when it’s enjoyed with our other potluck favorites!

Serve it on the side of crockpot bbq chicken, Buffalo ranch crockpot chicken wings, or boneless wings with a piece of slow cooker corn on the cob on the side.

  • Pasta salad will serve 6-12 depending on serving size.
  • Cut the cauliflower and broccoli into small florets for the best results.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in the dressing.
  • Add extras for fun like cheddar cheese cubes, peas, corn, and diced bell pepper.
  • Because of the mayo and dairy in the dressing, it needs to be kept cold while serving.
  • This recipe is very flexible – add more or less of any ingredient to suit your tastebuds. 

How to store leftovers

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

FAQs

Can I add a different protein?

To a bacon ranch pasta salad? Sure! 😉 Swap the bacon for diced ham, shredded chicken, small pieces of shrimp, or your favorite deli meat.

How do I keep the salad cold while serving?

Because it can’t stay out too long, you can either serve it and then put it back in the fridge right away, or keep the bowl in a larger bowl of ice while serving. Even still, it shouldn’t be out any more than 1-2 hours.

overhead shot of serving bowl of bacon ranch pasta salad.

Need more pasta salad recipes? Try these:

Italian Sub Pasta Salad

The Best Potato Salad Recipe

Greek Artichoke Pasta Salad

Click here to view my entire collection of side dish recipes.

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_ppplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

wooden spoon lifting a scoop of bacon ranch pasta salad.
4.75 from 4 votes

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a simple but flavorful dish that is perfect for summertime entertaining. This easy pasta salad can be made the night before and served for large parties. A delicious side dish everyone will love.

Ingredients
 

  • 2 Tablespoons Ranch seasoning mix or 1 packet
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 cup milk I used 2%
  • 12 ounces tri-colored rotini I use a "garden blend" – it's spinach & tomato pasta
  • 3.8 ounces sliced black olives
  • 5.75 ounces sliced green olives
  • 6 ounces fresh broccoli chopped into florets
  • 6 ounces cauliflower chopped into florets˜
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 4 slices bacon cooked & crumbled

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, add the ranch dressing packet, sour cream, mayo, and milk and whisk together. Cover and let thicken for 30 minutes.
    2 Tablespoons Ranch seasoning mix, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayo, 1 cup milk
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook noodles. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour into a large bowl.
    12 ounces tri-colored rotini
  • Add the olives, broccoli, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, and bacon pieces to the noodles. Pour the ranch dressing over and toss to fully coat.
    3.8 ounces sliced black olives, 5.75 ounces sliced green olives, 6 ounces fresh broccoli, 6 ounces cauliflower, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 4 slices bacon
  • Chill for the flavors to come together then sprinkle with more bacon pieces before serving.

Notes

  • Pasta salad will serve 6-12 depending on serving size.
  • Homemade ranch seasoning or a packet can be used.
  • Bacon bits (buy the “real bacon pieces”, not bits) can be used.
  • I buy sliced olives for convenience but you can slice them yourself.
  • Cut the cauliflower and broccoli into small florets for the best results.
  • Plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of the sour cream in the dressing.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Because of the mayo based dressing, make sure to keep cold while serving. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 667mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published May 21, 2015 as a sponsored post for Hormel

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad - a simple but flavorful pasta salad that is perfect for summertime entertaining | Persnickety Plates

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad - a simple but flavorful pasta salad that is perfect for summertime entertaining | Persnickety Plates


4.75 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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7 Comments

  1. This looks great. I would definitely add those fresh tomatoes, but I do that in most fresh salads anyways so I can’t really talk. I love the olives too! I’m thinking a little extra broccoli in tiny pieces would be great as well.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for the recipe and suggestions. I can’t wait to try it. I love the taste and convenience of the cooked Hormel bacon too.