Creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad


This post may contain affiliate links.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad — 🥓🎉🙌🏻 This CREAMY pasta salad is ready in just 20 minutes! It’s made with rotini pasta that’s coated in a creamy ranch dressing and tossed with bacon, peas, cheddar cheese, and more! It’s the perfect FAST and EASY side dish to bring to summer potlucks and barbecues. Or serve it for a tasty lunch or as part of a quickie weeknight dinner that’s a sure-fire family FAVORITE!

A bowl of rotini pasta salad with vegetables including peas, tomatoes, black olives, and diced red onions in a creamy dressing. Wooden serving spoons, a fork, and additional ingredients are nearby.

Calling all ranch dressing lovers! This quick and easy pasta salad is made with rotini pasta, shredded cheddar, frozen peas, bacon, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and black olives. 

The pasta salad is tossed with a creamy ranch dressing, which is made using a package of dry ranch seasoning mix, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. We are talking ranch flavor central!

A plate of rotini pasta salad mixed with peas, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and red onion, dressed in a creamy sauce. Forks and wooden salad servers are placed nearby.

I typically serve this ranch and bacon pasta salad as a side dish, but it’s hearty enough to work as a great lunch, or try it as main dish on busy weeknights as well. You can toss in some grilled chicken for additional protein, too. 

Like most pasta salad recipes, this one feeds a crowd and can be made in advance, which is perfect if you’ve got a potluck, barbecue, graduation party, or family reunion coming up.

It’s also great for summer holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and beyond for game day parties. Everyone loves this creamy pasta salad.

A wooden spoon scoops a portion of creamy pasta salad with rotini, cherry tomatoes, peas, and cheese from a bowl. Additional ingredients are visible in small bowls in the background.

Ingredients for This Recipe 

You’ll need the following basic ingredients to make the bacon cheddar ranch pasta salad: 

  • Rotini pasta – or another short or small-shaped pasta such as ziti, penne, wheels, small shells, bowties, etc. 
  • Mayonnaise – read the FAQs below for mayo questions
  • Milk – 2% or whole recommended
  • Dry ranch seasoning mix – typically sold in packets and you need to use it, read the FAQs
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Bacon – use fully cooked bacon to save time so all you need to do is zap it for a minute in your microwave, then crumble it
  • Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • Shredded cheddar cheese 
  • Peas – frozen is what I use, fresh are welcome
  • Red bell pepper – or your favorite color
  • Red onion – or yellow, or omit if you don’t like onions
  • Black olives – omit if you’re not an olive fan
  • Garnishes – green onions, parsley, or your fave herbs are welcome
Bowls of pasta, shredded cheese, peas, bacon pieces, mayonnaise, milk, cherry tomatoes, black olives, diced red onion, red bell pepper, and various seasonings on a white surface.

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Time Saving Tips

I suggest buying pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese instead of grating a block of it by hand. Hand grating cheese is preferred for recipes like mac and cheese when you need the cheese to melt super smoothly, but when adding to a pasta salad go ahead and buy the pre-shredded kind! 

Likewise, look for a 4-ounce can of sliced black olives rather than whole olives. Canned, sliced olives are cheaper anyway than whole olives.

I also suggest buying pre-cooked bacon which is sold in the refrigerated case at your grocery store next to the regular bacon. It cooks in about 1 minute in your microwave and is perfect for recipes like this where the bacon is diced and mixed in with lots of other ingredients.

A plate of rotini pasta salad with vegetables including peas, tomatoes, and olives, coated in a creamy dressing. A larger bowl of the same salad is in the background.

How to Make Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad 

To keep the total time for this perfect side dish pasta salad under 20 minutes total time, you’ll want to chop the veggies while the water comes to a boil and then as the pasta cooks. Multitasking is your best friend in this recipe! 

  1. In a large pot of lightly salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions, about 9-10 mins. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, milk, dry ranch seasoning mix, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Set aside momentarily.
  1. Add the cooked pasta to the serving bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Add the ranch dressing to the bowl, toss to coat everything in the ranch dressing, taste and see if it needs any additional salt or pepper.
  3. Serve immediately OR you can cover and chill the pasta salad, for a couple hours in the fridge.

Tip for Avoiding Soggy Pasta Salad

Cook the pasta just until al dente (i.e. still has some bite to it) to prevent it from becoming soggy as it sits in the ranch dressing.

Recipe Variations 

Feel free to tweak this bacon ranch pasta salad recipe to suit your personal preferences or to use up whatever veggies you have on hand. 

  • Swap the rotini with another short, sturdy pasta shape such as bowtie, penne, ziti, or elbow macaroni. 
  • Swap the cherry tomatoes with sliced grape tomatoes. 
  • Swap the cheddar cheese with shredded gouda, Muenster, Colby Jack, or similar. 
  • Swap the bacon with turkey bacon or use a vegetarian alternative. Or add diced leftover chicken. Or just keep it vegetarian.
  • Omit the black olives if you’re not an olive fan. 
A plate of rotini pasta salad with mixed vegetables, including peas, cherry tomatoes, olives, and chopped peppers, dressed in a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salad FAQs

Can I use gluten-free pasta? 

You can use gluten-free rotini if needed. I still recommend cooking it until al dente though, otherwise the pasta will become soggy once tossed with the dressing. Gluten-free pasta can be prone to becoming gummy so I don’t expect this salad (if made with GF pasta) to last quite as long.

do I have to use mayo? And milk?

The recipe calls for almost a full pound of pasta, plus nearly 4 cups of raw veggies, and you need to make a creamy dressing to coat it all. This is easily accomplished by whisking together mayo, milk, and a packet of dry ranch seasoning mix.

If you’re wondering if you could use a combo of mayo + Greek yogurt (or sour cream), yes it’s probably fine. I would do 1/2 cup mayo with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, noting it won’t have quite as much creaminess and will be more tangy than if you use all-mayo. Stick with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk, as written.

Don’t want to use mayo or milk at all? See the next question.

Can I use bottled ranch salad dressing instead of the dry seasoning mix? 

Yes you can. You’ll need roughly 1 cup of bottled ranch dressing. And also omit the milk! You may need to additional ranch dressing based on how dry (or not) it looks. I’m guessing 1/4 to 1/3 cup additional, if any. I suggest still adding all the other seasonings, S&P, etc. (just not the milk)

How long can pasta salad sit out? 

This creamy pasta salad can sit out for up to 2-3 hours. After that, you should refrigerate it.

Can the recipe be doubled or halved? 

Yes and yes! This is an easy recipe to scale up or down depending on how many mouths you have to feed. 

A large bowl of creamy pasta salad with rotini, peas, cherry tomatoes, and mixed vegetables. Two wooden serving spoons are placed in the bowl. Additional cherry tomatoes are near the bowl.

Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions 

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge, noting that the pasta and veggies will soften over time. You can also add more ranch dressing to the leftovers if they become dry although probably not necessary. I don’t recommend freezing pasta salad.

Make-Ahead: You can make the pasta salad up to about 24 hours before you plan to serve it. Keep it covered or sealed in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 5 days but if you’re serving this for an event or gathering, fresher is better and so up to 24 hours is my recommendation (don’t make it 3 days in advance or anything), but your mileage may vary.

What to Serve with Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad 

Pin This Recipe

Enjoy Without Ads! 🆕
Go Ad Free

5 from 2 votes

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

🥓🎉🙌🏻 This CREAMY pasta salad is ready in just 20 minutes! It's made with rotini pasta that's coated in a creamy ranch dressing and tossed with bacon, peas, cheddar cheese, and more! It’s the perfect FAST and EASY side dish to bring to summer potlucks and barbecues. Or serve it for a tasty lunch or as part of a quickie weeknight dinner that's a sure-fire family FAVORITE!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 hour
Servings: 8
Save this recipe to your email
Enter your email and we’ll send it to you!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


  • 12 ounce dry rotini pasta, or other small-shaped pasta such as elbow macaroni, ziti, penne, wheels, bowties, etc.
  • 1 cup mayonnaise*, see Tips in Step 2
  • ⅓ to ½ cup milk*, see Tips in Step 2
  • 1 ounce dry ranch seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup peas, if using frozen, make sure they are thawed and drained; or use fresh peasw
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced into small pieces
  • ½ cup red onion, diced very small
  • 4 ounces black olives, sliced (from a can, drained well)


  • Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Rinse pasta under cold water when done boiling to stop the cooking process. Drain well and add pasta to a very large bowl. Tips – Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the pasta cooking water while it's boiling to help prevent sticking. Also work ahead by making the dressing and chopping the veggies while the pasta boils.
  • While the pasta is cooking, to a medium bowl, add all the mayo, 1/3 cup milk, ranch seasoning mix, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine. Tips – Depending on how thick or thin you want the dressing will determine how much milk to add. See how it looks after 1/3 cup milk, and if it's too thick add a bit more milk, as necessary. You may substitute 1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt or sour cream for 1/2 cup of the mayo (so use 1/2 cup mayo + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt/sour cream) noting the dressing will be more tangy than if you exclusively use mayo. Set aside momentarily.
  • To the pasta, add the bacon, tomatoes, shredded cheese, peas, bell pepper, red onions, olives, and stir to combine. Tip – I use fully cooked bacon, sold alongside regular bacon in your grocer's refrigerated case. Zap in the microwave for about 1 minute or as directed, then slice, dice, or crumble. Huge timesaver!
  • Add the ranch dressing and stir well to combine and coat everything evenly. Taste and check for seasoning and flavor balance. Flavor Tips – If the pasta salad tastes at all boring or dull, it likely needs more salt, so don't be afraid to add it. The same goes for pepper, but salt is more critical. If you want it to have a tiny bit of a kick, add some dried red pepper flakes. A pinch of cayenne pepper will also kick things up.
  • You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to chill it covered for at least 30-60 minutes, and serve it chilled.
  • Storage and Make Ahead – Extra pasta salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving the leftovers. This isn't a recipe I recommend freezing. If you want to make it in advance, making it up to 24 hours in advance of an event is my recommendation. Make sure it's well covered/sealed or in an airtight container in the fridge.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 596kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 1247mg, Potassium: 363mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1083IU, Vitamin C: 36mg, Calcium: 165mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes:

BLT Pasta Salad — EASY, ready in 15 minutes, feeds a crowd, and PERFECT for potlucks and parties. Creamy ranch dressing perfectly coats the pasta and BACON. Guaranteed family FAVORITE!

A white bowl filled with a fork and BLT Pasta Salad

Classic Macaroni Salad — This fast and easy pasta salad recipe with tender elbow macaroni, bell peppers, carrots, celery, ham, and a super creamy dressing is a family FAVORITE! 

Classic Macaroni Salad - This fast and easy pasta salad recipe with tender elbow macaroni, bell peppers, carrots, celery, ham, and a super creamy dressing is a family FAVORITE! You can make it up to a day in advance if you want to get ahead and serve it at your next casual get together, backyard barbecue, picnic, potluck, or weeknight family dinner! Everyone always wants seconds!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad — Juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, black and green olives, crumbled feta, and tender pasta are tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette! An EASY pasta salad recipe with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients that’s ready in under 30 minutes! 

Spaghetti Pasta Salad — If you need a FAST and EASY hit for your next potluck, summer picnic, or barbecue, look no further than this spaghetti pasta salad recipe!

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad – Big juicy chicken chunks and texture galore from the rainbow of crispy veggies! Fast, easy, fresh and healthy!! Great for picnics, potlucks, and easy dinners!!

Basil Lemon Pasta Salad with Chicken — This chicken pasta salad is loaded with flavor, ready in minutes, and showcases Mediterranean-inspired ingredients! It’s perfect for summer potlucks and barbecues (no mayo!) and feeds a crowd.

Amish Pasta Salad — A family-favorite classic pasta salad recipe with al dente pasta, bell peppers, celery, red onions, and hard-boiled eggs tossed in a creamy tangy-sweet dressing! Perfect for picnics, potlucks, backyard parties, and events!

Italian Chicken Pasta Salad – Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and showcases some of my favorite summer ingredients. It’s perfect for summer potlucks and BBQs, or as a no-fuss family dinner!

Shrimp Pasta Salad – 🍤🫛🌿 Tender pasta, juicy shrimp, crunchy celery, bell peppers, and peas are tossed in a creamy and tangy homemade dressing for zesty perfection! Great for summer gatherings to serve as a side salad or make it for a lighter yet satisfying stand alone meal for lunch or dinner! Very EASY and always a crowd FAVORITE!

A vibrant shrimp pasta salad with green peas, dill, and cashews, served on a white platter over a rustic wicker mat and grey linen.

Quick and Easy Tuna Pasta Salad – 👏🏻🧑🏻‍🍳 Jazz up a can of tuna with this FAST and EASY pasta salad that’s creamy, satisfying, and chock full of flavor! Perfect for lunch or as a great side dish for dinner! Made with simple, common, and inexpensive ingredients which is always a WIN!

A bowl of creamy tuna pasta salad with rotini pasta, peas, and fresh parsley, placed on a light-colored surface.
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Averie! Are you draining the cut tomatoes in a colander before adding them to the salad, so it doesn’t get soggy? Thanks, as always. I appreciate all you do for us!

    1. You could but I don’t. I don’t have a problem with sogginess and after all this is a “softer” salad recipe with the mayo, milk, etc. which is far wetter than the bit of tomato juice that could run off so I don’t think it’s really necessary.