This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad recipe with cooked chicken, tender pasta and crispy bacon in creamy ranch dressing is a delicious main dish. Cold pasta salad is perfect for a light summer dinner and a hit at family gatherings or potluck dinner!
One of our favorite easy chicken recipes is Instant Pot chicken bacon ranch pasta or one pot chicken bacon ranch pasta. It's warm, cheesy and completely delicious! But in the summer, nobody really wants hot pasta!
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.
There are only a few simple ingredients for this easy pasta salad recipe. What you don't already have can be found online or at your local grocery store:
- Rotini pasta -- use plain or tri colored
- Cooked chicken -- use rotisserie chicken 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 Cucumbers or Celery -- for crunch and because my kids don't like onions
- Cheese -- American, cheddar or blend of cheddar and Jack
- Salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
- Fresh parsley for flavor
How to Make 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 follow directions on the box for 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 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 bowl. Then, add the chicken, spices, tomatoes, cucumbers 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 mix and follow package 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!
over, and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors blend.
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.
How to Store
Store the chicken bacon pasta salad in an airtight container 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. I don't recommend freezing pasta salad.
Variations and Substitutions
There are a couple great ways to customize this cold pasta salad recipe.
Use whatever kind of chicken you like. Leftover rotisserie chicken, freshly cooked chicken breast, or even crispy chicken strips cut into pieces will work for this delicious pasta salad.
You can also vary the type of pasta. Instead of tri-colored pasta, use regular rotini, penne pasta, or any kind of tubular pasta.
Add your favorite salad ingredients. Green onions, red onions, black olives, and sweet peas are great veggie options. Sharp cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, or a spicy dressing mix can add some extra kick to this delicious meal.
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 English cucumber or celery stalk 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
- 1 cup sliced cheddar cheese or American 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
This bacon ranch chicken pasta salad is the perfect side dish or main course for warm weather eating!
I hope you enjoy this yummy pasta salad as much as my family does! Be sure to leave a star rating and comment!
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Recipe first published in 2021 and updated in 2022.