Cheddar bacon ranch potato salad is loaded with all the good stuff! It has crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, and tender red potatoes all coated in sour cream and ranch dressing. This red potato salad recipe takes about 15 minutes to make and is even better if it’s made the day before!
It’s the perfect side dish for potlucks, a summer picnic, or weeknight meals. Try serving it with Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Chops, Shredded Sweet Ham, Hawaiian Hamburgers, or Roast Beef Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls.
Cheddar bacon ranch potato salad combines the flavors of a loaded baked potato and traditional potato salad. It’s all tossed in a creamy ranch dressing! It’s basically ranch dip with potatoes, bacon, and cheese! No wonder it’s a favorite potato salad recipe!
My family is all about anything with bacon! I mean bacon makes everything better, right? We add it to Creamy Cheddar Broccoli Pasta Salad, Chicken Bacon Quesadillas, Sauteed Green Peas with Bacon, Crockpot Cheesy Corn, and more! Once you learn how to make bacon in the oven you’ll be hooked! I always make extra and add it to recipes throughout the week.
This creamy potato salad is always a hit!
Table of contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Don’t get me wrong, I love a classic potato salad with hard-boiled eggs and mustard/mayo dressing. I serve my Greek Yogurt Potato Salad quite often. But, this loaded potato salad is different! It has a fresh dill taste instead of a tangy Dijon mustard taste. Here’s why we love it!
- Quick and easy. This is one of the easiest potato salad recipes and only takes just a few minutes to throw together, especially if you boil or bake the potatoes ahead of time.
- Make ahead. I love making ahead meals and side dishes so much. Who has time to throw dinner together at the last minute? This salad is actually BETTER if it’s made ahead of time which makes it a great make-ahead side dish. It gives the flavors a chance to marry. The bacon will get soggy if you add it when you make the salad. I typically prepare the bacon ahead of time and stir it in just before serving.
- Make a little or enough for a crowd. This potato salad recipe isn’t fussy at all! It’s easy to adjust the serving size to make enough for parties and large gatherings, or just make enough for you! It’s always a huge hit!
- Delicious! Bacon ranch is a popular flavor combo and it’s just as good in this salad! You can’t go wrong with a recipe that has bacon and cheese!
Scroll to the recipe card for a complete list of ingredients and instructions.
This potato salad recipe is flexible. It’s easy to swap ingredients for what you already have on hand.
- Red Potatoes: Red skin potatoes are the best for making this salad. New potatoes are tender, fluffy, and hold their shape. I also love the color of the red skin. Yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes may also be used. Russet potatoes have thicker skin so you’ll want to peel them before adding to the salad.
- Cheddar Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is a classic choice when it comes to crack potato salad. However, pepper jack, Colby jack, mozzarella, or Swiss would be yummy too.
- Bacon: I like frying bacon on my Flat Stone, smoking it, or baking it in the oven and using it throughout the week. But, there are days when I don’t have time for that extra step and use those precooked real bacon pieces. I don’t recommend using imitation crispy bacon bits.
- Sour Cream: Full fat. Reduced-fat sour cream can be a bit watery.
- Ranch Dressing Mix: You need the dry ranch seasoning. You can make homemade ranch dressing or use a packet of Hidden Valley ranch. Don’t worry about making it into actual salad dressing.
- Fresh Herbs: My family doesn’t like green onions…at all! I either leave them out or add them to the top of my salad serving, but you can add them with the potatoes. Fresh dill or parsley are yummy. Diced red onions will work too.
How to Potato Salad with Ranch and Bacon
Step 1: Cook potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until they are tender, but not mushy, about 10 minutes. They should be soft enough to poke with a fork. Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Completely cool before adding to the salad. Running cold water over hot potatoes will speed up the cooling time. See my note below about other ways to cook the potatoes.
Tips for boiling potatoes
- Start with cold water. Add the potatoes to a pot of cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Use a gentle boil, or simmer. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat as low as possible while maintaining a simmer. This keeps the potatoes from bouncing around and getting mushy.
- Salt the water. As soon as the water begins to simmer add about a teaspoon of salt for every 4 cups of water. Adding salt to the water when cooking pasta and potatoes seasons the potatoes and the pasta as it cooks. Salted potatoes add the BEST flavor to the salad!
- Tender potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes, how new the potatoes are, and the variety. Potatoes should be fork tender.
- Rinse with cold water. Rinsing the potatoes with cold water stops the cooking process which avoids mushy potatoes.
Step 2: Make ranch dressing. Mix the dry ranch seasoning mix and sour cream in a large bowl.
Step 3: Add mix-ins. Add cooled potatoes, cheddar cheese, and fresh herbs to the sour cream mixture. Toss to coat. Hold off on adding the bacon until you’re ready to serve it. The bacon will get soggy as it sits in the salad. (I served it right away so I added it with the potatoes. If you have time it’s best to let the salad chill for at least two hours).
Step 4: Season. Adding cheese and bacon to the salad adds some salty flavor, however, you might need to add a little more salt and black pepper. Taste test and add seasonings.
Step 5: Refrigerate. You can serve the salad right away. But it’s best if it’s refrigerated for a couple of hours, or even overnight because the potatoes soak up the dressing. Stir in bacon. Serve.
Tips for Making Loaded Red Skin Potato Salad
- Don’t worry about taking the red skins off of the potatoes. It adds a pretty pop of color and texture to the salad.
- Cool potatoes completely. Adding warm potatoes to the ranch mixture will make the salad watery. Make sure the potatoes are completely drained so you don’t add extra water to the salad.
- Bake the potatoes the day before assembling the salad. Dice the baked potatoes into bite-sized pieces. This is my favorite way of preparing the potatoes because it’s so easy.
- Add the bacon just before serving. The bacon will lose its crispy texture and get soggy as it sits.
- Add to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced green onions, fresh dill, or extra bacon before serving.
Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing creamy bacon ranch potato salad alters the texture and makes it watery. I don’t recommend freezing potato salad.
I’m sharing my classic Cheddar Bacon Ranch Potato Salad recipe. Here are a few variations.
- Spicy: Add a few dashes of hot sauce to the ranch mixture.
- Dill: Add a teaspoon of dried dill weed or a tablespoon of fresh dill.
- Olives: Add sliced black olives.
- Mayo/Sour Cream: Use a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. It will still be a creamy dressing but won’t have quite as much tang.
- Ranch Dressing: Use a bottle of prepared ranch dressing instead of sour cream and ranch. The dressing will be thinner and not quite as creamy, but it’s super quick and easy!
Yes! Any waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes hold their shape after boiling. Red skin potatoes are pretty!
Using precooked bacon saves time. Be sure to use real, cooked, and crumbled bacon.
Sharp cheddar adds bold flavor. Mild or medium cheddar will be great, too. You can use any time of cheese you like.
Using store bought ranch mix is quick and easy. You can make your own homemade ranch dressing if you’d like.
More Potato Recipes
- Crispy Smashed Red Potatoes
- Crispy Roasted Red Potatoes in Oven
- Oven Baked Homemade Potato Chips
- Make Ahead Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
More Easy Summer Side Dish Recipes
- Crockpot Cheesy Corn: With bacon, cream cheese, and jalapenos.
- Mixed Berry Cheesecake Salad: Takes about 5 minutes to make.
- Easy Three Bean Salad: Perfect with grilled and BBQ food.
- Smoked Baked Beans: Cook them in the oven if you don’t have a smoker.
Loaded Cheddar Bacon Ranch Potato Salad Recipe
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix (1 ounce)
- 10 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- to taste salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- Step 1: Cook potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until they are tender, but not mushy, about 10 minutes. They should be soft enough to poke with a fork. Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Completely cool before adding to the salad. Running cold water over hot potatoes will speed up the cooling time. See my note below about other ways to cook the potatoes.
- Step 2: Make ranch dressing. Mix the dry ranch seasoning mix and sour cream in a large bowl.
- Step 3: Add mix-ins. Add cooled potatoes, cheddar cheese, and fresh herbs to the sour cream mixture. Toss to coat. Hold off on adding the bacon until you’re ready to serve it. The bacon will get soggy as it sits in the salad.
- Step 4: Season. Adding cheese and bacon to the salad adds some salty flavor, however, you might need to add a little more salt and black pepper. Taste test and add seasonings.
- Step 5: Refrigerate. You can serve the salad right away. But it’s best if it’s refrigerated for a couple of hours, or even overnight because the potatoes soak up the dressing. Stir in bacon. Serve.