This BBQ Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad is that “salad” everyone really wants to EAT. It’s simple to throw together but packs in the flavor. Grilled BBQ chicken tossed together with a creamy homemade ranch dressing, fresh romaine lettuce, grilled corn, tomatoes, and fresh avocado. This pasta salad is flavorful, filling, and a great way to use up all that summer produce. Enjoy this for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch. Or serve this up at your next backyard dinner with friends. Perfect to enjoy from now through the fall months.
There’s nothing like a pasta salad in the summertime. I’ve told this story before, but pasta salad used to be one of my favorite summer dinners that my dad would make. He’d often make a pasta salad on random nights when my brothers had already eaten. Since anything with the word salad in it was not their kind of meal.
His pasta salad was super simple. Pasta, broccoli, cheese, olive oil, lots of herbs, and then whatever random items happened to be in the fridge.
I remember having a lot of fun on Saturday nights helping him toss things together while munching down on broccoli. I think it’s partly the memories that I really love so much.
Anyway, I’m always inspired to create pasta salad recipes throughout the summer. And today’s recipe is my newest…and my favorite.
It’s not fancy by any means. And it’s certainly not the prettiest salad I’ve ever tossed together. But the flavors, the textures, and the deliciousness are all spot on.
Making this pasta salad is easy, here are the steps
You need to gather up your ingredients…really good BBQ sauce, summer produce, your favorite short cut pasta, and a bit of homemade ranch dressing.
I always start with the chicken and toss it simply with my favorite homemade BBQ sauce. You can certainly use store-bought too. I recommend something lower in sugar so the chicken is not too sweet.
Grill the chicken, and while that’s cooking, I usually start assembling the salad.
You’ll of course need pasta. I love a fun short cut like these guys, or maybe these fun squiggles. Once the pasta is all cooked, I add it to my biggest salad bowl. To the bowl I add cubes of cheddar and pepper jack cheese, lettuce, grilled corn, tomatoes, and slices of jalapeño.
Then I throw in lots of fresh cilantro and basil and give it all a nice toss.
Now the ranch – the secret to this salad
I did a quick homemade ranch dressing that, if you ask me, is far superior to anything from the store…but I am of course, a bit biased.
It’s creamy, made with plenty of fresh garden herbs, and when tossed with the pasta? It makes for the very best pasta salad. BBQ and ranch is one of the best low-key, not fancy, but so delicious food combinations.
Once you have the salad all tossed, finish it off with avocado on top. Then serve with additional ranch and BBQ sauce.
I know it’s not your classic pasta salad, but try to trust me on this one. It’s really good and fully approved by every family member. This was a huge hit!
You can eat this warm or at room temperature. Though the longer the pasta sits, the more flavor it develops, so this is also perfect for making ahead. My only recommendation is to wait to add the avocado so that it doesn’t get brown.
Looking for other pasta salad recipes? Here are a few ideas:
Lastly, if you make this BBQ Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
BBQ Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
Calories Per Serving: 448 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite size chunks
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 pound short cut pasta
- 1 1/2 cups cubed cheddar cheese
- 3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 ears grilled or steamed corn
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro and or basil, chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
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- 1. Set your grill, grill pan, or skillet to medium-high heat. 2. In a bowl, combine the chicken and BBQ sauce. Grill the chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, turning halfway through cooking. Cook about 8-10 minutes.3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large salad bowl with the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, cilantro, and basil. 4. To make the ranch. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or glass jar. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. 5. Toss the pasta with half the ranch. Add the chicken and gently toss to combine. 6. Top the pasta with avocado. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serve warm or cold with additional ranch as desired.