Creamy Bacon, Peas and Pasta combine a delicious blend of Ranch seasoning, mayo, and cheese to pull together this filling, tasty, and easy side salad.
The soft mini pasta shells are the perfect filling combination with fresh or frozen peas. This is a can’t go wrong creamy pasta salad dish that will have everyone begging for seconds!
Not just a traditional pea salad, you will enjoy delicious sweet peas combined with filling mini pasta shells! Plus the bursting flavors of bacon and cheese make this a pasta salad a perfect addition to a potluck or BBQ.
Easy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad Recipe
Pea Pasta salad, with roots in Southern English flair, is a tasty cold pasta dish that combines fresh veggies, flavorful dressing dressing, cheese and bacon into a simple but sought after side dish recipe.
Quite honestly, this baby pea recipe with crispy bacon is sure to become one of your newest go to recipes for the summer and pairs perfectly with potlucks, picnics, holidays and delicious spring BBQs.
When it comes to pasta sides, there really are a lot of choices. Pasta can be one of the best bases for oil based dressings and creamy mayo dressings like this pea pasta salad has.
Ranch is one of those rare sets of spices that pretty much goes good on everything. This creamy pasta salad is no exception!
Ranch flavored pasta salad with shells, onions, bacon and peas is practically a main meal all on its own but you could easily add tuna, shrimp or bits of chicken.
Once you have verified you have everything, scroll to the bottom for a printable version of this recipe, including all measurements and instructions
- mini pasta shells
- frozen peas – we do not recommend that you defrost or cook the peas. The peas will defrost really quickly in the pasta and mayo base and leaving them frozen as you are cooking helps give that bit of firmness the pea needs to be in a pasta salad
- real mayonnaise – we always recommend Hellmann’s or Dukes full fat mayo
- shredded cheddar cheese – I personally like to use shredded cheese, but pea pasta salad also is fine if you prefer to cut a block of cheese into bite sized squares
- green onions – I wanted to note that I use green onions quite a bit and there is a super easy way to keep them on hand. Buy one set of green onions from the store and once chopped, place the bulbs in a glass of water. You will be amazed that the green onions just start to regrow! I change out the water 2 times a week to prevent any film or mold, but our green onion glass grows quicker than I can usually use! Its amazing way to resource and keep green onions on hand.
- bacon – super crispy bacon is a must. I like to make my bacon in the oven or bacon in the air fryer and keep it on hand.
- ranch seasoning – I buy ranch seasoning in a bottle instead of the little bags at the store. The ranch seasoning bottle lasts me quite a few months and goes in all the little pasta dishes I have. Its a little pricy to start (around $7) but is great to keep on hand.
How to Cook Pasta Shells
The best idea is just to follow along on the box for pasta shells and cook al dente according to instructions. Cooking time on the pasta is usually 8-10 minutes, plus water boiling.
It is OK to use traditional macaroni shaped pasta in this recipe, but remember that pastas all cook at a different rate and absorb mayo differently, so depending on your shell size, you may need a little more or a little less mayo.
Other popular pasta types that are often used in side dish salads, are full sized pasta shells, bowtie pasta, or rotini.
Additional Pea Pasta Salad Variations
This quick and easy pasta salad is already packed with the perfect blend of flavor, however, there are other additional ingredients that many like in their pea pasta salad as well. Once you get an understanding of the classic recipe version we have here, you may want to experiment with future tastes like these.
Boiled Eggs – Boiled eggs are super popular in side dish salads, including potato salad. Used as decoration, slice boiled eggs and lay on top of salad or simply dice and throw in the mayo dressing.
Chunked Cheese – instead of shredded Cheddar Cheese, try blocks of Mozzarella and/or Cheddar Cheese in bite sized pieces. For ease, you can purchase bags of pre-cubed cheddar blocks as well.
Vegetables: I think peas (whether that be regular, baby, or petite peas) are the star of the show. However, other tiny diced raw vegetables are often introduced in pasta salads that may make a quick increase in flavor and color. Bits of tiny bite sized broccoli, thinly sliced colored peppers and everyone’s favorite -red onion.
The only issue with diced red onion is that it can be quickly overpowering. The best way to remove the red onion from taking over the salad is to soak the diced red onion in cold water for 30 minutes, drying and then adding to salad. This takes out a lot of the instant spice and bite that red onions initially has.
Potluck Pasta Pea Salad Recipe
As all salads like this are, the time you leave in the fridge and marinate is usually ideal for savoring the flavor, but don’t be afraid to serve straight out of the kitchen if you are pressed for time either.
This perfect pasta salad is one of the best side dish recipes to take to a party, potluck, or church event! A scoop of pea pasta salad goes amazing on a paper plate along side ambrosia salad, Watergate and classic potato salad.
And its fine to precook the shells if you are pinched on time! As long as the shells are cooled and the other ingredients are cold, it will work in a bind.
Cook your mini pasta shells according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.
Its important to remember that if you leave pasta noodles hot, they can melt dressing and no one likes a warm mayo mixture. I have done it, its not that good.
After that, its all about the mixing! In a large mixing bowl, add pasta, peas, mayonnaise, cheese, onions, bacon and ranch seasoning, basically all the remaining ingredients.
Classic Pea Pasta Salad needs to be COLD!
For best results, refrigerate ranch pasta pea salad for 2-4 hours or overnight before serving. If you do choose to make this salad the day or night before, it may dry out just a tad bit in the fridge, so be sure to stir well to prevent mayo from settling just on the bottom.
Its fine to add a bit of extra homemade dressing if needed to revive the salad if you have left overs.
Top with additional cheddar cheese and bacon before serving (if desired).
If you made this salad and loved it or had some alterations that worked well, please feel free to leave me a comment and tell me about it!
Pea Pasta Salad
- 8 oz. mini pasta shells - cooked and cooled
- 2 cups frozen peas - frozen or refrigerator thawed, but they began as frozen
- 1 cup real mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 green onions - sliced
- 6 strips bacon - cooked and chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning
- To begin this pea pasta salad, cook and chop 6 strips of crispy bacon. To save time, pre-cooked bacon or bacon bits *may* be used, but we always recommend fresh ingredients for the best flavor. If you have an air fryer, bacon is super quick in the air fryer as well.
- While bacon is cooking, boil mini pasta shells according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Should the shells stick prior to moving onto the next part of the salad instructions, simply re-rinse the shells to "unstick" them and make sure excess water is shaken out well.
- Once bacon is finished, set cool and chop into small bite sized pieces.
- In a large mixing bowl, add mayonnaise and ranch seasoning.
- Once homemade dressing is combined, add shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, crispy bacon, cooled pasta, and frozen peas.
- Using a spatula, stir dressing over pasta and peas until well mixed and dressing is covering all pasta shells and peas.
- Pea pasta salad works best served cold, so refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight before serving. This also allows the peas to soften but stay firm.
- Top with additional shredded cheddar cheese and bacon before serving if desired.
- Serves 6-8