This vegan bacon ranch pasta salad takes just 20 minutes to prep and is perfect for meal prepping, cookouts and more. Can be made Top 9 Allergen Free (including gluten free).
There’s a popular boxed brand of things that creates a bacon ranch salad and it can fool a lot of people into thinking you created this epically magic pasta salad. But like most things in this world, it’s not vegan. So today we are making a vegan bacon ranch pasta salad.
Also like most things, when you make it at home from scratch it tastes even better and then you’ll be kicking yourself wondering why in the heck you’ve never made it before. Especially because it’s ready in no time.
This easy vegan pasta salad recipe takes just 20 minutes to prep and then you have the choice of eating it right away or allowing the flavors to really come together.
It’s great for meal prepping as it will last all week or you can make for your next cookout or get together!
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WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU NEED FOR VEGAN BACON RANCH PASTA SALAD?
Below are notes about the ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make the best dairy free bacon ranch pasta salad:
- rotini pasta– rotini is easy to pick up and be bite size and the spiral shapes hold sauce well, you could even try the tri-color rotini so the color of this pasta salad pop even more and a real conversation point!
- cherry tomatoes – a little acid and a burst of flavor! The texture of cherry tomatoes is great for pasta salad because they don’t break down as easy as dicing a large beefsteak tomato
- Vegan Parmesan – You can use store bought or our Homemade vegan Parmesan that is cashew or sunflower based
- Block Vegan “Cheddar” – shredded cheese has anti-caking agents on them that turn the dressing clumpy and makes it overall feel grainy, we prefer cubing vegan cheddar blocks very small for this pasta salad
- Vegan Bacon Bits – It’s fairly easy to find imitation bacon bits which are usually vegan friendly
- Vegan Ranch – We love the taste and texture of our homemade vegan ranch, but if you are looking for a store bought brand, then we recommend looking at our vegan ranch review
- Peas and Carrots – These are the two vegetables that are in the original boxed versions and we are keeping them because they add great flavor and color to the dish
Substitutions and variations:
- Pasta – Any small bite size pasta will work like penne, elbow, shells, or cavatappi noodles. If you only have long noodle we recommend that you break them in half before cooking so it’s not so long
- Tomatoes – Rainbow grape tomatoes (yellow, red, and orange) are fun for this. Alternatively, if you need to omit tomatoes for allergy or personal preference you can do so
- Other Vegetables – While we feel like this is the perfect pasta salad, you can get creative and add in any vegetables that you like – diced cauliflower or broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.
- Vegan Cheese – We use cheddar but you can use swap some with other blocks like vegan mozzarella, pepperjack or gouda
- Bacon Bits – You can also cook up some vegan bacon slices and then chop those up and mix into this recipe
Tips for how do you make vegan bacon ranch pasta salad:
- This pasta salad is so easy and it just needs to be thrown together and you can eat it immediately. It is great for meal prep as it will last all week. While you can eat it immediately; allowing the pasta salad flavors to merry together for while is helpful for building flavor.
- Cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cold ice water as soon as the pasta is done. This helps the pasta stop cooking. Do not overcook the pasta.
- This can be prepped ahead if serving at a cookout or lunch or dinner party.
- Chopping your vegetables and vegan cheese smaller is best. That way when eating you get a little bit of everything.
- This is supposed to be a vegan cold pasta salad.
Frequently Asked Questions for Vegan Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:
This deliciously easy vegan pasta salad, is actually best prepped the day ahead of time. Pasta salad is always better the next day in case you hadn’t heard that one! All the flavors really have time to merry together and enhance the flavor of the dish.
If you need to prep it more than that, I would recommend that earlier in the week, you can make the vegan pasta salad dressing, as well as prep cutting up all the cheese and vegetables, but wait until 24 hours before head to actually cook the pasta and put everything together.
This vegan pasta salad is best served cold; however, with that being said, there’s no reason that if someone wanted to warm it up for a few seconds because they don’t like cold pasta, they could.
You don’t want to cook it in a pot or anything, but 30-60 seconds in a microwave just to heat through, would be fine.
The great thing about living in this time is that you have so many gluten free pasta options. You can easily make this gluten free by just switching out the pasta for your favorite gluten free brand. You can even try a mixture of chickpea and red lentil varieties to give you the same color type of pattern as we did in ours.
For the vegan parmesan cheese, use our sunflower parmesan version in the recipe card to make it nut free.
Lastly, the hardest part, about making this a top 8 free recipe, is the vegan cheese. The best thing to do is omit the cheese altogether if you have multiple allergies. You can usually find ones that are soy free or nut free but not often together, especially not in a block form at this time.
There are soy free vegan mayo to make homemade vegan ranch and as far as the bacon bits, you could make a carrot or rice paper bacon instead.
This dairy free pasta salad recipe will last in the refrigerator for 7 days. Feel free to make a smaller amount of this vegan dish if you don’t think that you can finish in within a few days.
Yes. This vegan pasta salad does need to be refrigerated. It contains vegan cheese and other fresh vegetables that are best stored once put together with the vegan pasta salad dressing inside the fridge.
If you are going to a potluck, summer holiday party or more, this is a great dish to take as it will feed a crowd.
However, if you are just trying to make this dish for yourself and your family for a few days or the week, then you likely don’t need all of this pasta.
In any event, you can absolutely make a smaller amount. The easiest way is just to cut everything in half. You can do that using the slider bar in the recipe card below.
This vegan pasta salad dish is not suitable to freeze and unthaw. The best way to use this dish is to make a smaller portion that you can eat within 7 days.
If you allow the bacon bits to set in the sauce they will get soft. We love the crunch they add to the dish, so it’s best to add them at serving time.
What goes with vegan bacon ranch pasta salad?
A great thing about this vegan pasta salad is that it’s a complete meal on it’s own. However, you may be going somewhere or having people over and want to have other things with it. Some great options are:
- High Protein Vegan Burgers
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- The Best Vegan Black Bean Burger
- Vegan Italian Meatballs
- Dairy Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust
- Vegan BBQ Seitan
- Grilled Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
- Smoked Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- Grilled Vegan Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Vegan Sausage and Peppers Sandwich
WHAT OTHER VEGAN SIDE DISH IDEAS COULD I MAKE?
We love love love sides. They are the best parts of the meal! Here’s some of our favorite recipes:
- Vegan Italian Pasta Salad
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Easy Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Grilled Vegan Mexican Street Corn
- Vegan Potato Salad
Pin this vegan bacon ranch pasta salad for later!
Vegan Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- 12 oz rotini, (sub for GF pasta)
- 1 ½ cups vegan ranch (homemade or store bought)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup shredded carrots
- ⅓ cup green peas (fresh or frozen then thawed)
- 1 cup vegan cheddar, cubed
- ½ cup vegan Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup vegan bacon bits
- fresh dill, for garnish
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and run under cold ice water immediately to stop cooking.
- While waiting for it to cool, add all the remaining ingredients except bacon bits and dill into a large bowl and stir to combine.
- When the pasta is cool, add into the bowl and toss to combine well.
- Place in fridge to chill for at least an hour for flavors to come together. When ready to serve add in the bacon bits and fresh dill if desired for garnish.