This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad recipe is cool, creamy and a delicious, easy make ahead dinner on a warm summer day. Perfect for potlucks! It's basically the cold version of everyone's favorite one pot pasta dish!
So, I made this cold chicken bacon ranch pasta salad for dinner, and all was right in the world. It basically has all of the same flavors as the warm version and plenty of bacon to please the bacon lovers of the world.
The ingredients for this easy pasta salad are simple:
- Rotini pasta -- use plain or tri colored
- Cooked chicken -- use rotisserie or leftover chicken if you have it
- Ranch dressing -- make homemade ranch dressing or use your favorite
- Bacon -- I used leftover air fryer bacon
- Cherry tomatoes -- adds color and flavor
- Diced Celery -- for crunch and because my kids don't like onions
- Shredded cheese -- a blend of cheddar and Jack
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
- Fresh parsley for flavor
How to Make Cold Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
First, cook your pasta. I always cook pasta in the Instant Pot. It's super easy this way, but you can use the stovetop method if you prefer.
While the pasta is cooking, you can chop up your cooked chicken and other ingredients. If you don't have precooked chicken, you can bake chicken breasts, cook them in the air fryer or cook them in the Instant Pot. Pressure cooking is perfect when all you have is frozen chicken breasts!
Then, drain the pasta in a colander, and rinse under cold running water. This stops the pasta from continuing to cook and helps prevent it from sticking together.
Next, add your cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. Then, add the chicken, spices, tomatoes, celery and parsley. Add the ranch dressing, and stir until everything is well blended.
Use your favorite ranch dressing here. If you don't have pre-made ranch, you can use packet of ranch dressing and follow the directions to make it, using mayo and sour cream.
Finally, add the chopped, cooked bacon and the shredded cheese. I highly recommend saving some bacon to add right before serving, as well -- helps add some crunch!
Stir everything together until well blended. Add a little chopped parsley on the top for presentation. And, you're done! Cover, and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors blend.
How to Store
Store the pasta salad, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Leftover pasta salad should keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. This recipe makes a lot, but you can easily halve the recipe if needed.
You can make the pasta salad a day in advance. I recommend stirring in more ranch dressing before serving, as the pasta tends to absorb it. You may also want to add more chopped bacon or add the bacon before serving to keep it crunchy.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces cooked rotini pasta or 12 oz if tri colored
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast about 2, diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1½ cups ranch dressing
- ½ cup shredded cheddar blend cheese
- 6 strips cooked bacon chopped
- Cook pasta according to directions on box or cook in Instant Pot. Drain in colander, and rinse under cold water
- Add pasta, chicken, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, tomatoes, celery and parsley to a large mixing bowl
- Pour in dressing and cheese and about half of the bacon. Mix well. Top with remaining bacon and more parsley, if desired
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add more dressing before serving if needed