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Barbecue Chicken, Bacon & Ranch Pasta Salad

This Barbecue Chicken Bacon & Ranch Pasta Salad is one that will please even the pickiest eater in the crowd. It’s loaded with flavor, and it’s so easy to throw together; plus, if you’re like me and loving the promise of the warmer days ahead, this recipe will definitely give you spring & summer vibes! Fun cellentani pasta tossed in a delicious, homemade creamy ranch dressing, chopped bacon, sweet corn, tomatoes, cubed cheddar cheese and then topped with grilled BBQ chicken…my most LOVED pasta salad recipe!

I’m a big lover of all things chicken, bacon & ranch, and I will eat it any way I can get it…on a sub, on a pizza with some fresh spinach, bacon & cheese stuffed inside a chicken breast covered in ranch seasoning… I am not at all picky when it comes to my love for the trio! Everyone in my household also loves barbecue chicken and pasta, so this recipe was a no brainer for me and I knew it would be well-received.

Ingredients for this pasta salad

Here's what I used for this recipe: my favorite BBQ sauce, boneless (and skinless) chicken thighs, bacon, cellentani pasta (or a similar curly pasta), cubed cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, fresh parsley and a packet of ranch seasoning.

Optional Additions

  • Black olives

  • Chopped romaine or spinach

  • Cubed pepper jack cheese

  • Chopped jalapeno

  • Diced red onion

  • Avocado

If I had been making this salad for adults only, I would have definitely added some black olives & chopped spinach, but since I was feeding our young kiddos, I opted for the ingredients I knew were safe. You can't go wrong either way!

How to make this pasta salad

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are my favorite for grilling because they don't dry out like chicken breasts, and they're super forgiving. Smother the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in your favorite BBQ sauce and grill until done and set aside. Go ahead and cook the bacon; crumble it, and set it aside too. Lastly, cook the pasta according to package directions (add a little olive oil to your water to prevent sticking), and drain off the water.

Now it's time to make the homemade ranch dressing. You can use a bottle of store-bought ranch dressing, but I highly recommend trying to make your own. It makes ALL the difference in the final result of this recipe! I mixed one packet of dry ranch seasoning with 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup heavy cream & 1/2 cup milk. Mix well until smooth.

Then toss all the ingredients together! Start by mixing the pasta with the ranch until it is well-coated. You can toss everything together at once or use the pasta as the base with the other ingredients on top for an attractive, more assembled look. Add the barbecue chicken last and ENJOY!

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