Talk about the best of both words: this might be my new favorite meal prep for lunch. Bacon, ranch, chicken, and pasta. What more could one possibly need in a meal? This loaded pasta salad has it all: crispy cooked bacon, ranch seasoned chicken, roasted red onions, pasta, and ranch dressing. This is the perfect meal prep for the summertime, or quite frankly, year round, plus macro and WW friendly. Light bacon ranch chicken pasta salad is a must make!
What you’ll need to make this light bacon ranch chicken pasta salad
- orecchiette or small shell-shaped pasta
- to keep this gluten free, I use this chickpea based pasta Shells (eatbanza.com)
- center cut bacon
- chicken breast
- cherry tomatoes
- red onion
- ranch seasoning
- I used a ranch seasoning that is dairy free and salt free: dairy free ranch seasoning
- If you use a traditional ranch seasoning with salt, you will have to cut back on the amount
- ranch dressing
- plain non-fat yogurt
- for dairy free, I used cashew yogurt: Dairy Free Yogurt
What makes this recipe “light,” anyway?
A few factors “lighten up” this recipe:
- using center cut bacon instead of traditional bacon
- center cut bacon is leaner and has less fat on it, even though it is traditional pork bacon
- using yogurt to stretch the ranch dressing
- no use of oils
- using 4 servings of pasta, but spread over 6 servings of this recipe (since we add the chicken and vegetables, the serving size is a whopping 2 cups, even though it’s only about 2/3 of a standard serving of pasta)
Perfect for meal prep lunch
This chicken pasta salad makes for the perfect lunch meal prep. It is easy to portion into six large servings (2 cups each!) and is packed with all of the key macronutrients: protein, fiber, carbs, and fat! This salad is built to keep you full and satisfied. And at just under 400 calories per serving and 6 WW points, it is a great meal to fit into your day and lifestyle.
This chicken pasta salad is also ideal for lunch meal prep because it requires no reheating, which is convenient for everyone. Simply portion out your serving, throw it in your lunch bag, and when it’s time for lunch, simply enjoy. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
In addition, this recipe is super adaptable: if you are dairy free, use the recommendations I have linked above. Otherwise, use your favorite ranch seasoning blend, dressing, and any yogurt that works for you! You can also use any pasta that you enjoy, or what works for your dietary needs.
Light Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
- pasta pot
- sheet pan lined with parchment paper
- large mixing bowl
- 8 oz chickpea pasta orecchiette or shells, I used Banza ChickPea pasta
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into 6 thinner pieces
- 2 tbsp ranch seasoning, I used salt-free; if you use one with salt, only use 1 tbsp
- 8 slices center cut bacon
- 1 red onion, large, chopped
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1/3 cup ranch dressing, used: Primal Kitchen Ranch for dairy free
- 1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt, I use cashew yogurt for dairy free
- 1 tsp ranch seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Slice the chicken into 6 thinner pieces, and season with the ranch seasoning on all sides.
- Arrange the chicken on the baking sheet to one side. Add the bacon to the other side.
- Chop the onion and add it to the baking sheet. Spray the top with more cooking spray.
- Bake at 425F for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are tender, and the chicken is cooked through, and bacon is crispy.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot with salted water to boil.
- Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, and drain when cooked.
- Chop the scallions and half the cherry tomatoes. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the pasta, chicken, cooked onions, bacon, tomatoes, and scallions to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the ranch dressing and the yogurt.
- Pour over the salad components, and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning.
- 6 WW points
If you like the flavors of this salad, you might also enjoy these recipes:
and for a similarly easy to assemble meal prep recipe, check this one out: