Cobb Pasta Salad is loaded with bacon, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and homemade ranch dressing, perfect for summer picnics, potlucks, and BBQs!
Summer is already flying by, and we've been taking advantage of the season by enjoying our fair share of pasta salad. Call me crazy, but any recipe that's versatile, make-ahead, and can be eaten cold is on my short-list when the days are long and the temps hover around 100°. And when it's loaded with a few of my favorite things -- like this Cobb Pasta Salad -- well, that's clearly an added bonus.
Who doesn't love Cobb salad (sometimes referred to as California Cobb Salad)? It's one of those things that I frequently order at restaurant when I'm not in the mood for a heavy meal, but it's also extremely easy to make at home. And sometimes -- wild and crazy rebel that I am -- I like to change up my favorite salads by turning them into pasta salads.
While there are lots of opinions for what should go into a good Cobb salad (and hence, a good Cobb Pasta Salad), I'll give you the formula for mine:
Crispy, salty bacon...
Chopped hard-boiled eggs...
Creamy cubes of avocado...
And two kinds of cheese -- zippy blue cheese and sharp cheddar. Plus pasta. Obviously.
As for a dressing, I prefer my Cobb salad dressed with creamy ranch, and there's no better recipe than my BEST Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. Oh my gosh, please try it if you haven't already! #lifechanging
Where's the lettuce, you may be asking? Well, I feel like the pasta takes the place of the lettuce in this recipe. That being said, you could certainly add some chopped romaine if you like. I would just recommend stirring it in right before serving so that it doesn't get all wilty on ya.
Or better yet, serve your pasta salad atop a bed of lettuce instead! That way, it will remain crisp and fresh and any leftover pasta salad won't be interspersed with soggy lettuce.
Adding Optional Chicken
Also, where's the chicken, you may be asking? Good question! Again, feel free to stir in some cooked, chopped chicken (or turkey) if that's your preference. I just feel like Cobb Pasta Salad is hearty enough without the chicken.
In fact, if making this recipe as a side dish at a picnic, potluck, pool party, or barbecue, I'd probably leave the chicken out. But if I were going to serve this as a stand-alone lunch or dinner, I'd definitely consider stirring in some chunks of grilled or poached or rotisserie chicken. Or perhaps I'd simply lay some slices over the top, like this...
And there you have it! Cobb Pasta Salad is creamy, flavorful, and bursting with scrumptious flavors and varied textures.
If you like regular ol' Cobb salad, you're going to love it.
If you're a fan of pasta salad in general, you're going to love it.
I mean, summer and pasta salad go hand-in-hand, right? Well, your summer definitely needs this one!
Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
- If you'd like to dress your Cobb Pasta Salad with a vinaigrette instead of ranch, I'd recommend this one.
- I used fun, curly cavatappi in this recipe, but use your favorite shape of pasta. Penne, corkscrew, or bowtie would all work just fine.
- Be sure to generously salt the boiling water before adding your pasta, and be careful not to overcook your pasta!
- If you don't care for blue cheese, you can either swap it for feta or double the cheddar. Or just leave it out altogether!
- Any time I make pasta salad, I initially stir in about two-thirds of the dressing. Then I pop the bowl in the fridge and add the rest of the dressing just before serving. I prefer my pasta salad chilled, but much of the dressing gets absorbed into the pasta while it hangs out in the refrigerator. So I have found that if I reserve a bit of the dressing and stir it in just before eating, the resulting pasta salad isn’t overly dry and ends up with better flavor.
- Since avocados brown so quickly, stir those in just before serving.
More Delicious Pasta Salads
- Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Fiesta Pasta Salad
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Easy Pasta Salad
Cobb Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 8 ounces bacon, cooked until crispy, drained, and chopped
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 recipe Homemade Ranch Dressing, OR 1 [12-ounce] bottle of store-bought ranch
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 avocados, cubed
- Cook pasta in well-salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the bacon, eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese, cheddar, and about ⅔ of the dressing. Gently mix all of the ingredients with a large spoon until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings by adding salt and pepper, if desired.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill and allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, gently stir in the avocado and your desired amount of remaining ranch dressing.
Post originally published on June 19, 2018, and updated on June 8, 2021, and June 22, 2023.