This Creamy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a quick and easy recipe bursting with flavor. Tender pasta shells are tossed with creamy ranch dressing, shredded chicken, crispy bacon bits, fresh lettuce, and juicy cherry tomatoes and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It’s the perfect balance of savory and fresh, making it a satisfying and delicious dish.
Is there anything with bacon that you don’t just love? This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is bound to be everyone’s new favorite dish at the table. It combines all the favorites with the pasta, the fresh veggies, and, again, all the bacon. With spring and summer right around the corner, this is one recipe you will be pulling out often.
Say goodbye to the traditional pasta salad and hello to the best chicken bacon ranch pasta salad.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Pasta shells – serve as the base ingredient of the salad, providing a source of carbohydrates and texture. They absorb the flavors of the other ingredients and add substance making it more hearty.
Ranch dressing – a creamy and tangy sauce that ties all the ingredients together, adding a distinct flavor. It also adds moisture to the salad and makes it more enjoyable.
Shredded chicken – a good source of protein, making the salad more filling and satisfying. It also adds a savory flavor complementing the other ingredients.
Lettuce – adds a fresh crispness to the salad, helping to balance out the richness of the dressing and other ingredients.
Cherry tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes provide a burst of sweetness and acidity to the salad, adding a pop of color and taste to your palate.
Cheddar cheese – adds a salty and creamy taste to the salad, contributing to its richness and depth of seasons.
Bacon pieces – add smoky and saltiness to the dish, giving a crispy texture and enhancing its overall taste.
How to make cold chicken bacon pasta salad
Step 1: Cook the pasta of your choice al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Once it has drained, Place the pasta off to the side in a large bowl.
Step 2: Cook and shred the chicken breasts. Place shredded chicken into the bowl with the cooked pasta.
Tip: Grab rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, if you are crunched for time
Step 3: Cut the cherry tomatoes and add them to the chicken and pasta.
Step 4: Add in the shredded lettuce. This can be bought already shredded or shred your own. Toss in the cheese. It wouldn’t be an easy chicken bacon ranch pasta salad without the bacon! Put it all in! Lastly, pour in the creamy, tangy ranch for that extra flavor. Once everything is in the bowl, stir the ingredients well until everything is evenly coated in the ranch sauce.
Tip: Shred block cheese for the best taste and flavor! Also, fresh bacon instead of store-bought bacon would be amazing!
Chill the pasta for about 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
Cooking the Pasta Al Dente
This term is an Italian phrase meaning “to the tooth.” It means that pasta, when cooked properly, should have a slight bite, not too hard and crunchy or so soggy that it falls apart. To get this perfect texture of noodles, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for three minutes less than the suggested time on the box.
Some brands will include an al dente time for cooking; if so, you can trust those directions. Be sure to test-taste your noodles!
What kind of chicken should I use for this pasta salad?
The beauty of this recipe for chicken bacon ranch pasta salad is that you can use any chicken you like.
- If you prefer frozen chicken of a favorite brand, thaw it out, boil it until thoroughly cooked, and then shred it.
- You can make shredded chicken in the crockpot for the easiest, most tender chicken. Check out this detailed post on how to make shredded chicken in the crockpot.
- If you want to keep it quick, you can try canned chicken thready precooked; all you need to do is shred it.
- Another option would be a rotisserie chicken, but this would come with a bit of extra work because you would have to peel it off the bone, which gets a little messy.
The key here is to pick what works for you! There is no right or wrong answer.
- Be sure to cook pasta al dente for the right texture.
- To keep this chicken and bacon ranch pasta salad easy and quick as possible, buy your lettuce already chopped and washed, and use a chicken that’s already pre-cooked, like canned or rotisserie.
- You may be a fresh bacon fan, but using precooked bacon pieces saves some and keeps the salad from collecting grease the longer it sits.
- Stir, stir, stir! If you aren’t serving the dish right away, give it a stir after it has sat for a while to prevent the dressing from collecting at the bottom of the bowl.
Chicken Bacon Pasta Salad Optional Add-Ins:
The options are endless here. If you are serving a crowd with a demanding and adventurous palate, the more you add, the better!
Green onions, red onion, and celery can give the salad an extra crunch and burst of more flavor.
For softer veggies, try cold green peas with black olives and a dash of black pepper for an extra kick.
Spices are always fun! Paprika and cracked fresh red pepper would be a delicious addition.
There are so many pasta salad combinations, but this chicken bacon ranch pasta salad recipe is truly a favorite, and you can’t go wrong with any add-ins you love.
How to Prep pasta salad Ahead
So much of this dish can be prepped beforehand, making it fast and simple to throw together later. Here are a few ideas.
- The pasta can be cooked ahead of time according to box or al dente and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
- Make sure the fresh veggies you are using are washed ahead of time; that way, all you need to do the day of is cut them, such as the tomatoes needing to be sliced.
- If you aren’t using a precooked chicken, go ahead and thaw, cook, and shred the chicken. This can be stored in an air-tight container and in the refrigerator for up to three days.
How To Serve bacon chicken ranch pasta salad
This pasta salad is ideal for the whole family and every occasion. It fits great with summer BBQs or makes for a great cold side salad at a picnic. Try pairing it with cornbread muffins or a tasty baked potato topped with sour cream and salt. This can be served on plates or in bowls, whichever you prefer.
This chicken bacon ranch pasta salad will save in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. I do not recommend freezing. If you prepare ahead of time, such as a day or two in advance, I would wait until the day you serve it to add all the additional ingredients to the cooked pasta to keep the salad from getting soggy and soft.
More Salad Recipes:
- Arugula Pear Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Healthy Cauliflower Salad Recipe
- Egg Salad Recipe with Bacon
- Keto Broccoli Bacon Salad
- Taco Salad with Creamy Dressing
- Keto Big Mac Salad
- Keto Marinated Cole Slaw
- Chicken Salad
Creamy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 8 oz medium shells pasta
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup cooked chicken shredded
- 1 cup lettuce shredded
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 2.5 oz package bacon pieces
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions or until it is al dente. Drain the pasta. Rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place pasta into a large mixing bowl.
- Add cooked, shredded chicken to the mixing bowl with the pasta.
- Add the shredded lettuce and washed, halved cherry tomatoes to the mixture.
- Add the ranch dressing to the mixing bowl. Toss everything until it is evenly coated.
- Add the shredded cheddar cheese and bacon pieces to the mixing bowl and toss together again until well combined.
- Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- When you're ready to serve the salad, give it a quick toss to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Serve it in individual bowls or on plates.
- Enjoy your delicious and creamy chicken bacon ranch pasta salad!