BBQ Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad – completely drool-worthy and summertime eating at its best! This easy pasta salad recipe is brimming with the most delicious ingredients… Salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, hearty pasta, lean grilled chicken, and the most luscious homemade buttermilk ranch dressing!
(This post contains affiliate links - learn more here.)
How’s your summer going? Technically summer officially started a few days ago, but honestly, it’s always summer where I live so I kind of lose track of the seasons.
We’ve got a few trips planned so far, nowhere incredibly fabulous, but we will get to see lots of dear friends which is my favorite part. Oh, and then there’s the beach which is my other favorite part. Yes – there’s just nothing like good friends, sunshine and those turquoise waters. Ahh summertime.
What about you, any fun summer plans? Family vacations? Day trips? Get togethers or cookouts?
Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere, it’s just nice to invite some friends and family over for some grilled yumminess. Right?
I just love summertime eating! It’s just so easy to heat up that grill and whip up some caprese chicken, sriracha pork chops or a philly cheesesteak dog. Mmm, mmm! And then of course there’s all the summer produce that we’ve been longing for… from broccoli grape salad to corn-laden salads, tomato-filled main courses, and of course all recipes involving squash and zucchini.
There’s just so much to love about summertime cooking! Including my latest recipe… this BBQ Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad with… wait for it… AVOCADO!! Isn’t she just gorgeous!??
I think all of my favorite things are in this easy pasta salad. Not kidding. There’s grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, red onions, homemade ranch dressing, avocado annnnd BACON! What a winning combination – right!??
Seriously, so much yummy goodness happening in this bowl.
Making This Easy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:
This Creamy pasta salad recipe can really be broken into several steps – all of which can be prepared ahead of time and then assembled before serving.
First, mix together the dressing ingredients and refrigerate until you're ready to add it to the pasta.
Then, turn the grill on high for the bbq chicken breasts, and preheat the oven to cook your bacon. Don’t you just love baking your bacon? I line a baking sheet with tin foil, add the strips of bacon, and voila… 10ish minutes later, perfectly cooked bacon with no grease splatters to clean up! #alwayswinning
Next, get your pasta cooking according to the package instructions. It’s easy to turn this recipe into a gluten free pasta salad, just be sure to use your favorite gluten free penne pasta. There are so many choices nowadays when it comes to pasta: regular, protein-infused, veggie flavored, or whole wheat pasta – just use whatever works for your family.
While that’s cooking, season your chicken with salt and pepper, spritz with grill spray, and grill for 6-7 minutes per side (depending on how big your chicken breasts are and how hot your grill gets). You’ll want to let them rest for about 5 minutes so the juices don’t run out, then cut into bite-size pieces and set aside.
PS: I always use a digital kitchen thermometer (<- affiliate link) to temp my chicken to be sure it’s not over or under cooked. What can I say – I’m not much of a ceviche chicken girl. Lol
Be sure to set some timers on your phone, microwave, kitchen egg timer for all these different ingredients you have cooking at once. Or if multitasking is not your thing just do them one at a time, or even ahead of time, and store them in the fridge.
Finally, slice and cut the red onion, and cherry tomatoes.
Chop up your bacon and cut the avocados into one inch pieces. Mmm, avocado. Do you know anyone that doesn’t enjoy avocado? I can’t say that I do. It’s sooo gorgeously green, creamy and satisfying, and quite good for us too.
Here’s just a bit of avocado nutrition for you:
- There are about 160 calories in half an avocado!
- A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat: 4.2 grams of saturated fat, almost 20 grams of monounsaturated fat (aka the “good” fat), and 3.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- One avocado has 13.5 grams of fiber - which can help you to feel fuller and more satisfied.
- One avocado on the larger side has about 975 grams of Potassium. That’s 27% of your daily requirement. Potassium helps maintain fluid balance, and allows the nerves and muscles to work properly.
- Avocados are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
And if you’re like me you’re probably wondering “how many carbs in avocado?” They are very low on the glycemic index, rating less than 15, and won't spike your blood sugar. However they do have about 17 carbs for a larger size fruit... along with 4 grams of protein.
Yes – I said fruit! I’m not sure you’ve ever stopped to ask… is avocado a fruit or vegetable? Well, it is in fact a fruit. What can I say – I’m solving all your avocado mysteries here today!
For all of this and more avocado nutrition facts click here.
I know what you’re thinking… less talk about this gorgeous green fruit and more about eating it. I couldn’t agree more! Andiamo!
Once you have all of your ingredients in a big bowl, drizzle on your homemade ranch salad dressing (or your favorite store-bought version), give it a good toss and devour!
This chicken penne pasta is brimming with the most delicious ingredients… Salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, hearty pasta, lean grilled protein and luscious buttermilk ranch dressing. Are you drooling all over yourself??? Cause I am. I start salivating at just the thought of this heavenly BBQ Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad!
I can't wait for you to give this yummy recipe a try! Be sure to come back and let me know what you think in the comments below!
For The Parmesan Buttermilk Ranch:
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt, (I used 2%)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, (or more Greek yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, (or white vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt, (optional – salt at the end only if needed)
- Pinch cayenne pepper, (optional)
For The Pasta Salad:
- 1 cup Parmesan Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 10 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 pound chicken breasts, (boneless & skinless)
- 8 ounces penne pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, (or grape tomatoes)
- ½ red onion - sliced, then cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 avocados
- Salt and pepper
For The Parmesan Buttermilk Ranch:
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl or mason jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For The Pasta Salad:
- Make the dressing and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made a day or two ahead).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees to cook bacon. Also preheat grill to high heat for the chicken breasts.
- Line a large baking sheet with tin foil (with the dull side facing up), add the strips of bacon, and bake for 13-15 minutes. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside to cool. When cool, chop bacon into ½-inch pieces.
- Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Spritz with grill spray and grill 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how large each breast is. Use a digital thermometer to temp chicken – and make sure internal temperature of chicken is 165F. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes, then slice into ¼-inch slices and cut slices into bite-sized pieces.
- Cook pasta to package instructions, stirring in 1 tablespoon salt to the water before adding pasta for flavor. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
- Slice and cut avocados into 1 inch pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half.
- Add the pasta, bacon, grilled chicken, red onions, avocado, and tomatoes to a large bowl. Pour dressing over and fold all the ingredients together.
- Serve at room temperature or chill and serve cold.
If possible make dressing ahead at least 1 hour to allow flavors to come together.
Serving Size10 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 438Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 6gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 59mgSodium 404mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 4gSugar 4gProtein 22g