4.68 from 174 votes

Pea Pasta Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our read the Privacy Policy

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.

pea pasta salad piled high on a plate

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. 

peas in a glass bowl

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. 
ranch seasoning in a glass bowl

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. 

boiled pasta shells dumping into peas

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. 

pea pasta salad on a plate with shredded cheese and bacon

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.

mini pasta shells with peas piled on a plate

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).

RELATED RECIPESClassic Pea SaladSauteed Sugar Snap PeasSlow Cooker Black Eyed PeasCreamed Sweet PeasOld Fashioned Pea and Ham Salad

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! 

4.68 from 174 votes

Pea Pasta Salad


Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Pea Pasta salad recipe with bacon and Ranch Seasoning. A simple potluck salad, this pea and mini shells pasta is the creamiest side salad EVER! Not just covered in mayo, the tangy spices of ranch combined with the bursting flavors of bacon and cheese make this a pasta salad perfect for a BBQ. Peas and pasta are a classic and often referred to, old fashioned side dish that goes amazing with summer time BBQs and potlucks. An easy, flavorful and fun side, this colorful pea pasta salad includes the perfect pea, mini pasta shells, bacon, cheese and creamy homemade dressing. Sure to be one of your favorite spring and summer dishes of all time, this perfect pairing of filling pasta and fresh peas is incredibly delightful. Plus, pea pasta salad also makes delicious left overs for lunch the next day! Make this side dish a day ahead or the day of, as long as its served cold, this Southern Spring salad will be gone in an instant!

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Video

Notes

Frozen Peas – Peas can be defrosted in the fridge prior to salad use so they are cold but not frozen (should the salad be needed immediately). Pour out any excess water before dumping into salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Servings | Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 605mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Make sure to follow Salty Side Dish on Pinterest and rate the recipe here and make sure to leave a comment below!

4.68 from 174 votes
4.68 from 174 votes (167 ratings without comment)

Leave A Comment

Have a question or want to provide feedback? Share your recipe reviews or questions here and I will do my best to help!

Recipe Rating




26 Comments

  1. Rebecca Aspinwall says:

    EASY and very tasty.

    1. Thanks for this recipe that I am now known for, that’s always fun. I did make some adjustments because things I had that needed to be used, I followed all the directions but used one finely chopped red pepper, one full cucumber, seeded. One jalapeño, and four chopped gherkin pickles. After I mixed it all up, I doused the top with probably a quarter cup of Olive Garden Italian dressing. It’s so good, next time I might add a chopped egg. There was certainly nothing wrong with the original ingredients as they were, it is delicious, and the peas fit so cute in their little pasta houses. I just needed to use some stuff up. Thank you again! This is my forever pasta salad.💗

    2. Trisha Haas says:

      You adjustments sound delicious and thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Very very very good! So easy to make and the taste is amazing! Exactly what I was looking for. Goes perfect with grilled chicken!

    1. Thank you for your feedback!! I am so glad it was the recipe you were looking for!

  3. Your pasta salad peas and ranch dressing sounds great but how do I save it?

    1. You can save it on Pinterest by using the Pinterest toolbar or print it (there is a recipe card on the bottom).

    2. Or if you need me to email it to you, I can do that too. Just let me know!

    3. Rose iwema says:

      Delicious!

  4. Just made it for an impromptu gathering this evening. Looks beautiful. Had my husband try a small helping and he kept raving about how flavorful and delicious it was. I think it will be a hit at the party this evening. Thanks for sharing

    1. Truly, one of my favorites. Thanks for letting me know you loved it too! ~Trisha

  5. Caroline Valentic says:

    This was so good and we loved it!!! Thank you so much for posting this recipe 💗

    1. Thanks for giving it a shot. So glad you liked pea pasta salad. We also had this with our Easter this year ourselves!

      Trisha

  6. Do the peas go in frozen?? Or steam a bit first??

    1. I put them in frozen and they slowly defrost once the salad goes into the fridge. However, if you are eating right away, partially thawing is fine. Peas really do not take a lot to thaw out and you dont want them mushy.

  7. I tried this pasta and I have to say it is Absolutely delicious I did add to it though I added grilled chicken and grilled corn.

  8. Barbara Habiger says:

    Just made this and it was a hit!

  9. Nastassja says:

    Very good! I used bowtie pasta, and instead of ranch seasoning actual ranch dressing (the only one I found without MSG) and I like a little spice, so I added some cayenne and I think I’ll add some chopped up pickles for a little tang. Lovely side dish!

  10. This is the BEST pasta salad!! It is the favorite in our house. It’s easy to make and doesn’t take long. We Love it and I am so glad I found it on Pinterest where I get a lot of my recipes.

  11. Vicki Moreton says:

    Never had pea salad. Making this asap,!!! Thank you!

  12. Your recipe sounds delicioso!! When I make it I may cube up a ham slice instead of bacon. I’ll make it both ways, think it might be too salty with both meats. I would rather have a big cold Mac and ?? salad than a big hot dinner. Especially since I can’t spend alot of time standing. I’m big on casseroles too. Easier, tastier, the better. Thanks so much for the recipe.♡♡

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Absolutely! Cubed ham is great for this recipe.

  13. I need a less salty version of this recipe please

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Probably have to leave out the bacon.

  14. Not sure why this is not a grit side dish from ingredients you have ,on a fly, comfort food! Everything on hand and offered exactly what a side dish should. Will enjoy again!

Where To Next?