BLT Pasta Salad with mayo and ranch seasoning (making Ranch dressing) is the one salad that needs to make it to your BBQ picnics this year. With fresh tomatoes, crunchy bacon, and homemade ranch flavor, the only question you will have is why didn’t I make more!
There is nothing I love more than a hearty salad with bits of flavors, textures and colors mixed in. If I had to rank pasta salad favorites, its definitely this BLT Pasta salad with ranch as number one, but you can totally round it out with mandarin salad, Italian pasta salad or tri color pasta salad with Italian dressing, for a serious trio of flavors that will knock your socks off.
As with most pasta salad and macaroni salad, this BLT salad tastes better made a head of time and put in the fridge to chill.
Then give your pasta salad a good mix up before serving and it really has had time to soak up all the robust ranch flavors that you get to enjoy in every bite. That being said, if you cant wait to eat it up, as long as your mayo is cold, it still tastes just fine.
Ranch BLT Pasta Salad
This Ranch BLT Pasta salad is also a great potluck dish and can really serve quite a few if you double or triple this recipe (as most pasta dishes do). Recently some friends and I made the recipe this way and we finished off the whole bowl together, with some to spare.
- 8 ounces, small shells pasta, uncooked
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach & arugula
- 1 tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, plus 1 slice for topping
- 1 cup real mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon ranch dressing (dry powder)
- salt and pepper
- Want a more robust salad? Chunks of mild cheddar cheese or cold peas make a great addition to this BLT pasta salad. Both go great with ranch and bring a new flavor.
- Ranch dressing: I like a homemade ranch dressing which is why we use dry power and mayo for a homemade taste. You could easily substitute for pre-made ranch dressing but I think it takes away from the final dish. You can buy ranch seasoning in a can and we leave ours in the fridge so we can make homemade dressing any time we want. Its in a green can and usually on the top shelf at the supermarket dressing aisle.
BLT Salad Recipe Tips
A note about changing pasta types:
When it comes to pasta salads, the most popular bits of pasta are shells, macroni’s, and penne.
The shape and thickness of the pasta can really change HOW a salad tastes and how the flavors are soaked up.
Outside of classic macaroni salad noodles, mini small shells are probably my favorite. They are great for small bites, which means you get plenty of “extras” in each spoonful.
What’s the point of having a pasta salad if its just pasta, am I right?
All that said, feel free to mix up your pastas to really change the textures of this salad. The only thing you may have to do is add additional sauce to account for larger amounts of pasta.
Ranch BLT Pasta Salad
Cook shell pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Let pasta shells cool completely. You can also make ahead your pasta but you will have to rinse with cold water prior to finishing out the salad so its not sticky.
Add chopped arugula or spinach, chopped tomato, diced onion and fresh chopped bacon to a mixing bowl and mix well.
Add mayonnaise and Hidden Valley Ranch seasonings. The mixture of these two make a ranch dressing coating.
Mix well to evenly coat and combine all your pasta, veggie and dressing as one.
Refrigerate your salad for 4 hours or overnight to really marinate the flavors.
Stir salad well before serving topped with remaining crumbled bacon for an extra crunch (optional)
Need more potluck salad ideas? Try