BBQ ranch pasta salad has it all, big flavor, lots of texture and plenty of veggies. It’s perfect for picnics, barbecues, potlucks and more!
Macaroni salad is a summertime must. It is a great make ahead dish so all you have to do is pull it out and serve it when it’s time to eat.
They are a perfect make ahead side dish. Plus they travel well, making them perfect for picnics and potlucks.
You can even add a little chicken or bacon to your BBQ ranch macaroni salad an make a meal of it. That’s what I’m doing, it will be a perfect easy lunch at work this week.
This pasta salad features ranch and BBQ sauce of course, but also veggies and that wonderful pasta. Top it with a drizzle of BBQ sauce and a few fresh herbs for a pop of extra flavor.
The first thing you want to do is go ahead and boil some noodles. You want to use a shape that is going to help you get all those goodies in each bite.
I love using cellantini for pasta salad. The corkscrew shape is fun and also helps to grab the dressing and all of the little bits.
Of course bowtie pasta, macaroni noodles and shells are great for pasta salad as well. Boil whatever shape you choose until it is al dente then drain it.
When making macaroni salad, I like to rinse the pasta with cold water after it is drained. It washes off the extra starch and keeps it from sticking together.
Plus it cools it down faster so that you can go ahead and dress it. It only takes a minute and has multiple benefits.
Making the BBQ Ranch Macaroni Salad
The next thing you will want to do is make the simple dressing. I like using sour cream for the base as it is lighter than mayonnaise and the tang goes so well with the ranch seasoning.
You can use a package of ranch seasoning, or make your own seasoning mix. If you aren’t a huge ranch fan, you can start with half of a packet and add more as you like.
Stir in a little bit if your favorite BBQ sauce to give it a bit of sweetness and to round out the flavors. The creamy ranch mixed with the BBQ sauce makes for and easy but interesting dressing.
Toss the cooled pasta in the dressing and then add the rest of your goodies. The recipe card includes the mix-ins as we like them, but this is a great opportunity to make the salad your own.
The corn, avocado, and black beans give this side a bit of Tex-Mex feal that we love with our BBQ. The tomatoes and red onion give a fresh burst of flavor.
Toss some fresh herbs in to make for big flavor. Add the avocado last to keep it from oxidizing before you are ready to eat.
More Great Additions:
We love this BBQ ranch macaroni salad just the way it is written, but there are plenty of substitutions and alterations you can make. That is one of the wonderful things about pasta salad, they are very forgiving.
Instead of cheddar cheese, you can use Colby jack, or pepper jack. Or use small cubes of cheese rather than using shredded.
We have made this salad with diced cucumber. It adds a crisp freshness that is really delicious.
Add some leftover chicken or some extra BBQ chicken to turn the salad into a meal instead of a side dish. Or add some diced bacon for extra smokiness.
To keep it vegetarian, add some chickpeas or more black beans if you want more protein to make it a meal. Otherwise we think hard boiled eggs can be added to just about any salad.
How do you store leftover pasta salad?
While this salad is the prettiest and freshest the first day, it does keep rather well. We ate it as a side dish on Sunday and then I brought some to work for lunch the next several days along with some greens.u003cbru003eAfter a few days, the avocados start to oxidize, but it still tastes great. So you can keep eating the salad for several days without any issues.
More Great Picnic Salad Recipes
If you want more make ahead salad ideas, I have you covered. These salads are perfect for serving at a backyard barbeque, picnic, or potluck.
Frito salad is a fabulous salad option. It features lettuce with lots of add ins and a homemade catalina dressing to tie it all together.
The ultimate BLT macaroni salad has spinach, bacon, tomatoes and more mixed with pasta. It is one of our favorite summer sides and it goes with just about any main dish.
BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta
- ⅓ cup bbq sauce
- 1¼ cup sour cream
- 1 pkg ranch dressing mix
- 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn frozen or fresh
- ½ red onion chopped
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 avocado cubed
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- optional fresh herbs parsley, cilantro, chives, green onions etc.
- Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until cooled.
- Stir together ranch seasoning, sour cream and BBQ sauce in a large bowl.
- Add pasta and stir to coat.
- Add cheese and chopped vegetables except for the avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve, dice avocado and stir into pasta salad.
- Garnish with additional BBQ sauce and fresh herbs if desired.