Ranch Absolutely Belongs In Your Next Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is great any time of year, but there's something about the hot, summer months that really makes it shine. Maybe that's because it's good to have on hand when it's too hot to cook and also perfect for bringing to gatherings. It's also easy to whip up, refrigerates well, and gets even better with time. There's no shortage of ways to prepare pasta salad, with seemingly endless opportunities to customize using your choice of veggies, meats, cheeses, other mix-ins, and plenty of flavorful dressings. Ranch is an iconic option which can add zing and nostalgic flavor to your pasta salad and delight everyone's tastebuds. 

Whether you make homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, opt for your favorite store-bought brand, or turn to a packet of ranch seasoning, the dressing works well with many different ingredients. This chicken bacon ranch pasta recipe, for example, features classic pairings and is super easy to make. It can be chilled and served as a cold pasta salad, making it great for lunch, a side dish, or for eating right out of the bowl. Additions like red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, or even cheddar cheese can help you add your own spin to the dish. 

Tips for making the perfect ranch pasta salad

Choosing the right ingredients is the first step for a perfect ranch pasta salad. Start with the best pasta shape: Fusilli is a favorite, but rotini, penne, and bowtie are also great choices that hold up well in salads. When it comes to the dressing, you have a few options — ranch in a bottle, ranch seasoning packets, and homemade ranch. Different recipes call for different types, though most can be used interchangeably depending on your preference. Store bought is convenient, but homemade can be customized to your taste, and packets of seasonings taste fresher. 

To elevate your pasta salad, add ingredients that complement the ranch flavor. Chicken, bacon, and cheddar are classic pairings. Vegetables including peas, onion, cucumber, and broccoli work well. Most of the best mix-ins for pasta salad pair well with the dressing, so you can adapt your favorite pasta salad recipe or simply mix and match with what you want to include. Ranch's versatility makes it an ideal dressing because you can add your favorite ingredients or whatever you have on hand and end up with a delicious dish perfect for anything from weeknight dinners to picnics, potlucks to meal prep.