Want to be the MVP at every potluck and picnic? Bring this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad. Loaded with crispy bacon, sharp cheese, and a creamy ranch dressing, this red potato salad recipe is outrageously delicious and always a crowd-pleaser.
Made with creamy red potatoes, salty, crispy bacon, sharp cheese, and creamy dressing seasoned with ranch seasoning, this recipe for Bacon Ranch Potato Salad is a side dish that no one can resist.
Notes on Ingredients
- Potatoes: Small red potatoes are best for this ranch potato salad, as their texture and flavor hold up well to the ranch-flavored dressing.
- Bacon: I prefer to make homemade bacon bits, by baking bacon and then crumbling it into small bits myself. However, you can use pre-made bacon bits to save yourself a bit of time.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is a necessary ingredient for potato salad, as it balances out the richness of the creamy dressing and really flavors the potatoes. I recommend using white vinegar in this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad.
- Ranch Seasoning: Instead of relying on a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning, that is full of preservatives, I opt to make homemade ranch seasoning, which is simply made with dried parsley, basil, salt, garlic, and onion powder.
- Mayonnaise & Sour Cream: I use a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise in this Potato Salad Recipe. The mayonnaise adds a rich undertone, while the sour cream adds a tangy finish. The combination of the two is perfect for this recipe.
- Cheese: Use shredded sharp or regular cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese to add an irresistible cheesy bite.
- Chives: Chives really add freshness and flavor, making this Ranch Potato Salad exceptional in flavor. However, feel free to omit them if you do not have them on hand.
How to Make Ranch Potato Salad
Step One: Prepare Bacon: Instead of using prepared bacon bits, I much prefer the flavor of preparing the bacon myself. I recommend baking bacon, rather than pan-frying, as not only is it easier, but it is hands-off. Store the bacon bits in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve the potato salad. The bacon is added to the salad right before serving, which keeps the bacon nice and crispy.
Step Two: Cook the Potatoes. In order to ensure your potatoes cook evenly and are well seasoned, be sure to start the cooking process with cold water and heavily season the water with salt. Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain the potatoes and then return them to the hot pan for a minute or two. This extra step will help to remove the excess water from the potatoes and prevent your potato salad from becoming watered-down.
To cool the potatoes quickly, spread them out onto a sheet pan. Let the potatoes come to room temperature before adding the creamy ranch dressing to the potatoes.
Step Three: Prepare Dressing. While the potatoes are cooling, use that time to whip up the dressing for the potato salad.
Step Four: Assemble Potato Salad. Once the dressing is made and the potatoes are just cooled, toss the dressing, potato, and cheese together to coat.
Step Five: Chill. For best results, you want to plan for at least 2 hours, 24 hours is best, to chill the potato salad before serving. This will allow time for the potatoes to absorb the flavor of the creamy, ranch dressing.
Step Six: Add Bacon and Serve. Right before serving, add the prepared, crumbled, bacon and minced chives to the potato salad and toss to combine. This will ensure the bacon stays crispy and the chives don't wilt.
Tips for Entertaining with this Potato Salad
This Bacon Ranch Potato Salad is a fabulous dish to bring to a potluck or for entertaining, as it is not only a dish everyone loves but can be safely left at room temperature for up to 1 hour and can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.
- To Prepare in Advance: As I stated, this ranch potato salad can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just wait to mix the cooked bacon and chives into your salad until right before serving, so that the bacon stays crisp and the chives stay fresh.
- To Serve: If you need to leave the potato salad out of refrigeration for longer than an hour, or you are serving the dish in a hot environment, such as outdoors in the summer, the potato salad should be kept chilled. To do this, place a bowl filled with ice on your serving table and nestle your serving dish with the potato salad on top of the bowl of ice. This will keep your potato salad at a safe temperature until the ice melts. Just be sure that your serving dish is larger than the ice bowl, so it won't get water in the potato salad as the ice melts.
More Picnic-Worthy Side Dishes
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Sour Cream Cucumber Salad
- Tabbouleh Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
If you tried this recipe for Bacon Ranch Potato Salad, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
- 6 strips bacon or ⅓ cup of bacon bits
- 3 pounds red potatoes scrubbed and quartered
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt for cooking potatoes
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
Homemade Bacon Bits
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and place a wire cooling rack on the cooking sheet.
- Lay bacon evenly across the baking rack, so that it is not overlapping. Bake the bacon until crispy, 13-16 minutes.
- Remove the bacon from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, crumble the bacon into tiny bits. Store the bacon bits in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve the potato salad.
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
- Place the potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with cold tap water and season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring the water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat and boil until the potatoes are just fork-tender, but not falling apart.
- Drain the potatoes and then return the potatoes to the hot pan and gently toss the potatoes around in the pan, until any excess water has been evaporated from the potatoes. Spread the potatoes out onto a sheet pan to allow them to cool quickly. The potatoes just need to cool until slightly warm, not hot, to the touch.
- While potatoes are cooling, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and basil in a large mixing bowl until combined.
- Cover the potato salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is best, before serving.
- Right before serving, stir the chives and bacon into the potato salad.
This post was originally published in 2018 but was updated in 2022 with new tips and a video.