Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad is packed with flavor, texture and color! While our favorite Italian pasta salad recipe is often served as a side, this hearty dish eats like a meal!
Loaded with chicken, pasta, bacon and veggies this dish is tossed in a rich ranch mayo dressing for the perfect meal to satisfy a crowd.
This chicken pasta salad is an easy way to stretch any leftover baked chicken breast or you can use rotisserie chicken or leftover roast chicken! You can serve it as a main dish, or as a side at a potluck (and it makes great lunches throughout the week).
What Goes in Pasta Salad
When making a cold pasta salad you can add in as many or as little ingredients are you want. A classic version will always start with a pasta base, meat, veggies and cheese.
- Pasta: tri-color penne or rotini pasta but of course any medium pasta will work
- Meat: diced cooked chicken, crumbled bacon… use leftover turkey or ham instead
- Veggies: opt for a variety of colors and textures to make a pretty and flavorful pasta salad
- Flavors: get a flavor boost from cheese, onions, fresh herbs or even add sliced olives (black or green)
You can use regular pasta, substitute cheeses according to your preference, and add in what you have on hand. Try some chopped red, yellow and orange bell pepper for a fresh flavor and crunch.
Chicken Pasta Salad Dressing
For the tastiest pasta salad dressing, I create a delicious and easy ranch style dressing. Making chicken pasta salad with mayo makes it rich and creamy. The addition of fresh herbs adds extra flavor!
- Creamy: mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk
- Flavorful: a packet of ranch dressing mix (or try homemade ranch seasoning) & fresh herbs
How to Make Chicken Pasta Salad
Chicken ranch pasta salad comes together quickly, once you’ve prepped your veggies and shredded the cheeses. Just follow these steps:
- Cook the pasta al dente, drain and rinse.
- Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl, and mix in the dressing.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
Before serving, sprinkle with fresh chopped green onion and extra bacon.
Can You Freeze It?
Unfortunately, chicken bacon ranch pasta salad is not a good candidate for the freezer. Too many of the ingredients just don’t hold up well. Mayonnaise separates, sour cream turns grainy and watery and fresh tomatoes turn to icky mush. But don’t worry. Everyone loves chicken pasta salad, and you probably won’t have to worry about leftovers!
Like most cold pasta salad recipes, this hold in the refrigerator for about three days, so if you need to make it in advance, plan accordingly.
Popular Pasta Salads
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad – Reader favorite!
- Italian Pasta Salad – Classic summer pasta salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad – colorful and flavorful!
- Bow Tie Pasta Salad– ready in 20 mins
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad – Full of flavor
- Easy Greek Pasta Salad – 4 ingredients homemade dressing!
Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces tri-color rotini pasta cooked and cooled
- 2 cups chicken cooked and diced
- 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup cheddar cheese diced
- 3 green onions sliced
- fresh parsley and dill for garnish optional
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 package ranch dressing mix
- ⅓ cup milk
- 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)