Our Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is loaded with all the flavors you love like ranch dressing, bacon, chicken, and pasta noodles. It's perfect for family gatherings, summer BBQs, or a potluck dinner. This pasta salad is a delicious meal that can be enjoyed cold or warm!
Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe
This chicken bacon ranch pasta salad recipe was the very first pasta salad to be published on the blog. We always enjoy it after it’s been chilled for an hour or so.
The part I love the most about this recipe is how easy it is to prepare. Simply cook the pasta and bacon, chop the chicken breast and green onions, and mix in the cheddar cheese and ranch dressing.
You can't get easier than that! You can make this pasta salad using a homemade ranch or with a store-bought version. Either one works.
If you decide to make your own, I recommend using our creamy ranch dressing. As long as it's kept cold, then you'll be good to go.
Pasta Salad Ingredients:
Pasta: We used ziti in the photos and penne in the video, but any short or small pasta works.
Chicken: We generally use leftover chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken. However, chicken thighs are also a great option.
Bacon: Center cut bacon is our favorite. It tends to have less fat and better looking lean meat. Additionally, we tend to shy away from maple, apple wood, or hickory flavored bacon for this pasta salad.
Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is my go-to. I’ve found that mild and medium cheddar cheese tend to get lost among all the other ingredients.
Ranch Dressing: Homemade ranch dressing is our favorite, but sometimes we break down and purchase bottled salad dressing from the grocery store.
Green Onions/Chives: These add a nice freshness to the pasta salad.
We recommend saving a little ranch dressing to use the following day to freshen up the cold pasta salad.
The noodles have a tendency to soak up a lot of the dressing after its been placed in the refrigerator.
How to Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:
Scroll to the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient amounts!
This easy pasta salad recipe is simple to make and a real crowd pleaser! It uses a handful of ingredients and is perfect for all your summer barbecues.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- While the pasta cooks, make the bacon. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the bacon until it reaches the desired crispness. Remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate and break into pieces.
- Transfer the cooked pasta, bacon, chicken, shredded cheese, and green onions to a large bowl.
- Drizzle with ranch dressing, and toss to combine. Make sure to mix well so all the pasta salad ingredients are evenly coated.
- Place the pasta salad into an airtight container in the refrigerator until it’s ready to serve.
- Add optional garnishes like extra shredded cheese, crispy bacon, and more green onions just before serving.
Pasta Salad Tips:
- Use pre-cooked chicken to make this recipe super simple! It saves on time and cuts down on dishes.
- Serve this as a side dish or as a main course. We usually enjoy this pasta salad as a main course, but you could easy serve a spoonful as a side to your favorite main dish.
- Use your favorite short pasta like ziti, rigatoni, penne, or rotini. Short noodles work better than other types of pasta because all the ingredients are roughly the same size. Short pasta also grabs onto the dressing and other ingredients better than long pasta.
Refrigerator: Store any leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Freezing is not recommended.
Reheating: This is a cold pasta salad recipe, so there's no need to reheat!
What other ingredients can you add to chicken bacon ranch pasta salad?
There are several other ingredients that can be added to chicken bacon ranch pasta salad.
You may need to add a little extra ranch dressing to compensate for the extra ingredients. Here are some of our favorites:
- Diced Bell Peppers.
- Green Peas.
- Hard-boiled Eggs.
- Cherry Tomatoes.
- Black Olives.
How can you keep leftover pasta salad from getting dry?
Leftover pasta salad is notorious for being dry the next day. The best way to freshen up dry pasta salad is by adding a little extra salad dressing.
The ingredients in pasta salad recipes tend to soak up a lot of the salad dressing, so we always keep extra on hand to add later.
Of course, you can add the extra dressing while making the pasta salad, but you'll want to be careful not to overdress it. Otherwise, the salad dressing will override the other flavors.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 8 ounces short pasta, uncooked
- ½ pound bacon
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked; chopped (rotisserie chicken works well)
- ¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded; plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped; plus extra for garnish
- 1 ¼ cups ranch dressing, plus extra for leftover pasta salad
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.8 ounces short pasta
- While the pasta cooks, make the bacon. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the bacon until it reaches the desired crispness. Remove from the pan to a paper towel lined plate and break into pieces.½ pound bacon
- Transfer the cooked pasta, bacon, chicken, shredded cheese, and green onions to a large bowl.1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts¼ cup sharp cheddar cheese¼ cup green onions
- Drizzle with ranch dressing, and toss to combine. Make sure to mix well so all the pasta salad ingredients are evenly coated.1 ¼ cups ranch dressing
- Place the pasta salad into an airtight container in the refrigerator until it’s ready to serve. Add optional garnishes, like extra shredded cheese, crispy bacon, and more green onions just before serving.
- Scroll up and see the post for tips, FAQs, and storage options.