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Side Dishes

Hosting a BBQ? This Bacon-Cheddar Pasta Salad Recipe Makes the Perfect Side Dish

Bottled ranch dressing perfectly complements this smoky toss.

Pasta salad is a classic cookout staple, but it can sometimes feel a bit ho-hum. That’s why we created this bacon-cheddar pasta salad recipe. It takes things up a notch with a creamy ranch dressing, sharp cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits (learn how to make Million Dollar Bacon). Plus, cherry tomatoes, celery and scallions add great freshness.

This recipe is so easy to make in 20 minutes and can last for up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator. You can also customize it with added vegetables or protein to suit your preferences. What are your favorite add-ins to pasta salad? Share with us below! For a complete meal, serve alongside burgers, paninis or roasted vegetables.

When making this bacon-cheddar pasta salad recipe, start with the right pasta. We recommend smaller, bite-sized shapes like shells since they mix well with the other components and hold the dressing better. We also have a trick for avoiding dry pasta salad.


6 servings

Total Time

Prep Time

Cook Time


  • 12 oz. medium shell pasta
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup bottled ranch dressing


• In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water. 

• Meanwhile, in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon, flipping once, until crisp, 3–4 min. per side. Drain on paper towels; chop.

• In a bowl, mix pasta, half of bacon and remaining ingredients; toss until coated. Top with remaining bacon.


  • Calories: 410 kcal
  • Fat: 17 gram
  • Saturated Fat: 5 gram
  • Protein: 14 gram
  • Carbohydrate: 47 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Cholesterol: 25 mg
  • Sugar: 5 gram
  • Sodium: 410 mg
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