This Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad recipe is packed with flavor, texture, and lots of goodness!

Loaded with chicken, pasta, bacon, and veggies this dish is tossed in an easy ranch mayo dressing for the perfect bite.

While our favorite Italian pasta salad is often served as a side, this hearty dish eats like a meal!

close up of plated Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

A Pasta Salad Entree

  • This pasta salad turns a favorite side dish into a main dish with lots of great additions like chicken!
  • Only 3 simple steps and 20 minutes of prep time.
  • Chicken pasta salad is an easy way to stretch leftover chicken breasts or leftover roast chicken!
  • Serve as a main dish or as a side (and it makes great lunches throughout the week).
  • Best served cold, it’s a refreshing dish on a hot summer day.
Dressing, cheddar, tomatoes, chicken, bacon, pasta, & green onions on a marble board to make Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad with labels

What Goes in Pasta Salad

When making a cold pasta salad you can add in as many or as few ingredients as you’d like.

  • Pasta – Use rigatoni, penne, shells, or rotini pasta. Really, any medium pasta shape will work.
  • Chicken – Leftover diced cooked chicken or shredded chicken is perfect in this recipe. You can also bake chicken breast or use rotisserie chicken.
  • Veggies – Opt for a variety of colors and textures to make this chicken pasta salad both pretty and flavorful. Try bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or avocado.
  • Flavor – Cubes of cheddar, green onions, bacon, and a quick and creamy dressing add lots of flavor.
adding ingredients together for Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad dressing

Chicken Pasta Salad Dressing

For the tastiest pasta salad dressing, we love the super quick homemade ranch-style dressing in the notes. It’s rich and creamy with lots of fresh herb flavor.

Creamy: mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk. Swap the sour cream for greek Yogurt to lighten it up a bit!

Flavorful: a packet of ranch dressing mix (or try homemade ranch seasoning) & fresh herbs.

To Make Dressing From Scratch

If you’d like to make the dressing from scratch, skip the ranch packet and add the following to the mayonnaise/sour cream mixture:

  • ½ teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons each fresh dill and parsley
  • salt & pepper
ingredients to make Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and dressing in bowls before mixing

Variations

  • Swap chicken for leftover turkey or ham.
  • Use your favorite cheeses like fresh mozzarella, pepper jack, or feta cheese.
  • Sprinkle with herbs such as fresh basil, parsley, and dill.
  • Other additions to try include sliced olives (black or green), a splash of lemon juice, or red onion
adding sauce to Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken ranch pasta salad comes together quickly once the veggies are prepped and the cheese is shredded. Just follow these steps:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water.
  2. Combine the salad ingredients and cooled pasta in a large bowl.
  3. Add dressing and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Before serving, sprinkle with fresh chopped green onion and extra bacon and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Dress Generously!

The pasta will soak up the dressing as it sits (adding more flavor throughout!). Be sure to dress the salad generously so it isn’t dry.

If needed, add a little bit of extra milk, mayonnaise, or sour cream before serving!

top view of Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Storing Leftovers

Like most cold pasta salad recipes, this chicken bacon ranch pasta salad holds in the refrigerator for 3-4 days making it perfect for lunches.

This dish doesn’t freeze well.

Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes

 Did you love this Chicken Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad in a bowl with spoons
4.94 from 29 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is packed with flavor and color! Rotini pasta, diced chicken, and a homemade ranch dressing make this tasty side dish!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author Holly Nilsson

Ingredients  

  • 12 ounces rigatoni or rotini, or penne
  • 2 cups chicken cooked and diced
  • 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, extra for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese diced
  • 3 green onions sliced, plus more for garnish
  • fresh parsley and dill for garnish optional

Dressing

  • cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • cup milk
  • 1 package ranch dressing mix* or see notes for a from scratch version

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water per the package directions. Drain well and run under cold water. Set aside.
  • Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing.
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with green onions and serve.

Notes

To Make the Dressing From Scratch: Skip the ranch packet and add the following to the mayonnaise/sour cream mixture:
  • ½ teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons each fresh dill and parsley (or ½ teaspoon each dried)
  • salt & pepper
To Cook Chicken Breasts for pasta salad, preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the chicken with olive oil and season generously with salt & pepper (and a little Italian seasoning if you’d like). Bake for 22-26 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F. Cool and chop or shred.
4.94 from 29 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 447 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 345mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 465IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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close up of plated Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad with avocado and a title
close up of plated Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad with a title
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad ingredient in bowls with writing
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad ingredients in a bowl and plated dish with writing

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

    1. You could use Greek yogurt or sour cream but this would change the flavor significantly (they’re both much more tangy) as the mayo is the base of the dressing. Another option would be to add a creamy dressing of your choice or some ranch dressing (we LOVE this homemade one, although it does have mayonnaise).

  1. Hi Holly, not a fan of dill, should I leave it out? Or could you suggest a substitute?

    Thanks, Ally in NJ

  2. I tried this today for the first time and I am amazed at how good and flavorful it is! I love it! My sisters were eagerly excited to try it once I sent the pic of it to them.5 stars

  3. It’s a good recipe, but it does need some zip – red peppers, olives, something. And maybe a little extra crunch – like from celery. But my big complaint is that you’re supposed to be able to cook the chicken, make the pasta, chop all the ingredients, make dressing and combine in 20 minutes? That is crazy. I’m a decent cook, and move quickly, but all this will take at least an hour – probably more. That said, it’s worth it.4 stars

    1. So glad you loved it Tom! If using raw chicken, this recipe will definitely take longer, I most often use leftovers or rotisserie chicken. As for the rest of the ingredients, I do a lot of the chopping while the pasta is cooking. I hope that helps!

  4. Do you mix the green onions in with the pasta salad or do you just garnish the finished product with green onions?

    Can’t wait to try this!

  5. Delicious flavors! My husband said out loud three times as he was eating it, “Wow, this is really good!” Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  6. i haven’t made the recipe yet but i was wondering what do u mean by one package of ranch dressing mix. like the little packets u get from fast food places or like a bottle of ranch i’m just confused

    1. The powdered packets. You can use bottled ranch or just use the powdered ranch mix packets. If you do that it’ll come out great and you can adjust the mayo, sour cream, etc to your liking vs the bottled stuff.4 stars