This is an avocado pasta salad no one can stop eating. Starring a ranch dressing made with avocado rather than mayonnaise, it’s juicy and creamy with fabulous avocado flavor in Every. Single. Bite. Officially my (current) favorite avocado recipe!!!
Fully loaded with chicken, bacon, and egg, it’s an excellent workday lunch, a show-off avocado pasta salad for gatherings, and guess what? It stays green for days!
This recipe is all about the creamy avocado ranch dressing. It is Great – with a capital “G”. Regular readers know when I capitalize, I mean it!
It’s not just about making a dressing that’s traditionally made with loads of mayonnaise healthier. This is about making an avocado-forward salad into a big, juicy pasta salad.
Sure, we could just throw chunks of avocado in and call it a day.
But if we make a dressing instead, we can get avocado into every single bite, smothering everything, making this pasta salad creamy and gorgeous… with the bonus that it’s HEALTHIER.
Win, win, win!
Oh, wait. A caveat. I do use a bit of mayonnaise. But just 1/3 cup compared to 2 1/2 cups of other “stuff” in the dressing. It gives the dressing a smidge of luxuriousness in the mouthfeel, but can easily be substituted with yogurt or sour cream!
Avocado Pasta Salad Fixings
Here’s what goes in this avocado pasta salad. Firstly – the creamy avocado dressing!
Avocados – You will need 2 ripe ones though you may not quite use both of them as for this recipe, I specifically ask you to measure out 1 1/3 cups of avocado flesh. Why? Because, irritatingly, avocados don’t all grow the same size. Ridiculous, right??
Buttermilk – An ingredient traditionally used to make Ranch Dressing, it has a consistency like pouring cream but is slightly tangy. Substitute: yogurt and milk (equal parts). It’s a near-perfect substitute, I tested it especially because buttermilk is not a common ingredient used here in Australia. So there’s no need to get it, especially for this recipe!
Mayonnaise (just a bit!) – Another ingredient traditionally used in ranch though usually it’s a primary ingredient whereas it’s a minor ingredient in this avocado ranch dressing. Why bother? Because it adds a more luxurious mouthfeel to the dressing which makes it so, so good! Feel free to skip it – just substitute it with sour cream or yogurt.
Fresh dill – While I can offer substitutions for the buttermilk and mayonnaise, I urge you to use fresh dill! The bright freshness adds a special touch to this dressing. However, if you don’t have (or don’t like??) dill, coriander/cilantro or chives make excellent alternatives. It’s a different flavor of course, but these herbs are also used in various versions of ranch dressing so they are on point. Dill is just my personal preference.
Lemon juice – For a much-needed balance of tang plus also it keeps the avocado dressing green!
Garlic – Traditional ranch dressing typically uses dried garlic powder which adds a sort of earthy garlic flavor. For this avocado version, I preferred fresh garlic.
Onion powder – While I opted for fresh garlic, I stuck with the traditional onion powder as I love the smooth onion flavor it adds to the dressing and very much makes this taste like ranch dressing. Try not to skip it. I have written an article on low carb pasta noodles.
Avocado Pasta Salad Add-Ins
Remember what I mentioned above: you can dial it back or substitute it. This recipe is all about dressing!
Seasoned chicken – I wanted to go all-out with this pasta salad so I cook a chicken breast seasoned with paprika, salt, and pepper. Substitute with plain poached chicken breast, any other cooked chicken or proteins (tuna, shrimp/prawns!), or chop/shred leftovers from a store-bought or homemade roast chicken.
Eggs – Hard-boiled (9 minutes). Extra protein as well as lovely pops of color!
Celery – For a touch of fresh crunch, reminiscent of classic creamy Macaroni Salad. Highly recommended for a touch of texture.
Bacon – Do I need to do any convincing here to include this in your pasta salad??
Dill – Yes! More fresh dill! It does give this pasta salad that special touch that makes it memorable.
Cherry tomatoes – Lovely pops of juiciness and color.
Red onion – Just 1/4 of red onion, finely sliced, for a touch of much-needed freshness in this big jumble of goodness.
Pasta – Oh yes! Don’t forget pasta, like I almost did!! I’ve gone for spirals here but feel free to use your shape of choice. Penne, ziti, macaroni/elbow pasta, bow ties, rigatoni. Just avoid the smaller pasta like orzo, orecchiette (make this instead), alphabet, dinosaur, and other novelty shape pasta (in case you’re channeling the child within).
Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
Toss diced avocado with lime juice.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss with dressing.
Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. You can get more from this video.
Can You Make Avocado Pasta Salad Ahead?
You can make the pasta and prep all the veggies and portion everything out, but I would wait until the day off to assemble. The lemon juice will help keep the avocados from turning brown for about a day, but after that, they will start to oxidize and turn brown. The taste will still be there, but it just won’t look as pretty.
My kids loved this Avocado Pasta Salad. And it was one I was more than happy to give her a second helping of! The sweet fresh corn. The pop of acidity from the tomatoes. This healthy pasta salad is a summer!
Enjoy! As always, if you make this recipe or any of my others, I love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below.
Of course! Just add it to the pasta while it cooks. See recipe notes.
Technically, yes if you have to make sure that it is thawed and very well-drained. But honestly, this recipe just isn’t the same without fresh spinach.
The possibilities are endless! If it doesn’t need to be vegan, then crumbled bacon or feta cheese are great options! We love peas or chives, too.