Anyone that knows me in real life that I’m not the biggest Ranch dressing fan. As far as this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad? I have my lil’ sis (who I no longer consider evil for suggesting such a salad knowing I’m not a Ranch fan) to thank because I gotta tell ya, I love this potato salad! And so do the folks (my favorite octogenarians) who jumped on this like there was no tomorrow.
I mean really, what’s not to love!! There are baby potatoes cooked in their jackets for incredible flavor, a creamy, homemade Ranch dressing base (which makes this soooo much better than anything with a bottled dressing), lots of cheese, and of course, the star of the show, the bacon. A few chives or green onion add a little freshness and flavor, sprinkled on top.
About Bacon Ranch Potato Salad:
This is a great salad to make up for home, maybe as a side for dinner, and (hopefully) have a little leftover for lunches in the next day or two; it holds up very well. It’s also a marvelous recipe to tote out or bring to any potluck, barbecue, etc. This is definitely a crowd-pleaser kind of recipe. Note that I am only showing a partial recipe in my photos; I’m updating this post in 2020 and it’s just me here at home.
It’s really the creamy, luscious homemade Ranch dressing that “makes” the potato salad. It’s rich, thick and creamy with just the right amount of tanginess to carry the salad. I love my easy Homemade Ranch Mix in this but feel free to go store-bought if you want. I think the homemade is part of with sets this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad apart from the herd. (A little Ranch joke there, sorry all.) The last time I made this potato salad, I didn’t have the buttermilk powder for my homemade Ranch but just used all the other ingredients and the salad was still fabulous. The Greek yogurt had enough tang on its own without the buttermilk in the mix although the potato salad tasted a little less “Ranchy.” Just sayin’ in case you’re in a pinch.
Around the House:
I just had to show you what I found when I ran outside to the garden for the chives! We had a visitor, a groundhog. It was all pretty exciting to see him, although we found out from our neighbor (who was very concerned when he saw my pic of this creature on facebook) that these guys can be really destructive.
The poor thing was terrified and we never saw him again, which was probably a good thing!
The Potatoes to Use:
Let’s talk about the potatoes! The ideal potatoes to use for a salad like this are “waxy” potatoes, potatoes like red potatoes or Yukon golds. When cooked up they’re creamy, a little more solid than say, a mealier russet potato, so they stay distinct and they don’t absorb the dressing, so that dressing stays creamy. In this recipe, the potatoes are cooked in their jackets, as they say, not peeled, which not only makes it easy, but also adds to the flavor. Cut them into small, bite-sized pieces after they’ve cooked and cooled. Easy peasy.
Ideally, I’d use baby red potatoes, although the baby Yukons are great and if you want to use those pricier packages of mixed colors, they’ll work, too. Honestly, for a potato salad, those mixed potatoes are probably a little over-kill in the quality department when making potato salad. I like to buy those when I’m making a recipe where you can actually show all those colors off!
If you have larger full-sized potatoes, they’ll work, too, and are definitely a budget option. Cut them into chunks of relatively the same size so they’ll cook evenly, then once they’ve finished cooking and have cooled, it’s super easy to cut into bite-sized pieces.
The Other Ingredients:
I’ve made this recipe with thick-cut and classic cut bacon, either work. You can cut the bacon into pieces and fry it but it’s so easy to just lay it out on a sheet tray or on a rack over the sheet tray and bake it. You can see my recipe for Buffet Style Oven Baked Bacon on how to do that. The bacon is best when it’s cooked and rendered but still has a little bit of chew to it, not completely hard and crispy.
I personally like Cheddar in this recipe best and think a large grate, if you have a choice is the way to go. You get to see the pieces and know it’s in there. It’s not a make it or break it kind of thing. If your cheese is a finer grate it incorporates more into the dressing and you may need to use a little more milk or buttermilk.
The mayo is the dressing to add a little silkiness, but you really need Greek yogurt (my favorite) or sour cream for the richness and tang. You never know how thick or thin either yogurt or sour cream are going to be so be prepared to add a little milk (or buttermilk) to thin the dressing or more, as needed. In order not to break up the potatoes, I like to mix in about half, add what milk I think I’ll need; it’s a good point to kind of “judge” it. I give it a gentle mix then the rest of the potatoes go in, along with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust again if you need to by adding a little more milk but be very gentle when stirring.
The chives or green onion are a garnish, but I’m kind of generous with them…they add freshness and flavor. They can be skipped in a pinch but I’m def happier with the salad when they’re added!
Saving Money on Bacon Ranch Potato Salad:
There are definitely less expensive potato salads to make, but this one is really kind of a showstopper! Watch for potatoes on sale, keep them in a cool, dark place away from onions. The larger potatoes are your budget option.
Bacon is an item often on sale before any holiday (see my post Win at the Grocers for items you might see on sale during any particular holiday) and it’s a great to stock up on and freeze; it takes so little room. Aldi has great prices, too, and they do have a lower-grade bacon that I don’t really care for when serving as a side because the slices aren’t even and don’t pull apart cleanly and but will work for recipes like this where the bacon can be chopped up and fried.
Sour cream is often on sale around holidays, too, but yogurt goes on sale more often throughout the year. I find great prices on good Greek yogurt at both buyer’s clubs and Aldi. I love using yogurt and always buy plain in a larger carton; I can flavor it with jam or fruit for eating and use it in cooking. With either sour cream or yogurt, make sure to use clean utensils (don’t’ let it sit out uncovered), and store in the fridge upside down. It will stay fresher, longer.
All your basic condiments like mayo, ketchup, mustard and so on are always going to be cheapest during the Summer Holidays. Stock up for the year! They’ll be some sales around the Superbowl if you miss the opportunity, and a few sales around other holidays, but buying in summer is the way to go. Incidentally, around Easter is usually the best time to stock up on vinegar and the same goes…stock up for the year at rock bottom prices.
The Homemade Ranch Mix is really a better and cheaper option! Buttermilk powder to make it is not inexpensive but I’ve priced out multiple scenarios and it’s always less than buying a packet, although the initial investment is more. I mentioned earlier that the last time I made this salad, I didn’t have the buttermilk powder to make my homemade Ranch Mix and just omitted it the buttermilk powder and used the rest of the ingredients for the Ranch Mix in this potato salad. The salad was still fabulous.
Growing your own herbs in a pot or in the garden is a fabulous way to add freshness and flavor to all kinds of recipes. Really they are a great way to make even the most budget recipes seem like “more.” Generally, an herb in a pot is no more than buying a bunch at the store! Even if you happen to kill it, you can still dry and use it so it’s just about a no-loss proposition.
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
- Total Time: 45 minutes + chill
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: American
For the Potato Salad:
- 2 pounds baby potatoes, in jacket; cut larger ones in half so they’re of a fairly uniform size for cooking
- salt for cooking water, as desired
- 8 slices bacon, diced and cooked or Buffet Style Oven Baked Bacon, crumbled
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, large shreds if possible (4 to 6 ounces)
- about 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk, more or less
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly cracked or to taste
- green onions, thinly sliced, 2 to 3 for garnish or additional chives, thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons or so
- 1 package (1 ounce) of dry Ranch Mix or 3 tablespoons Homemade Ranch Mix
- 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika (unless it has already been added to the homemade Ranch)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup mayonnaise (about 8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
For the Potato Salad:
When ready to assemble, mix the ingredients for the homemade Ranch dressing in a large bowl. Instructions below.
Add potatoes to a large pot, add salt if using and fill with cool water to about 2 inches above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a good simmer and cook until the potatoes pierce easily with the tip of a knife or the tines of a fork go in easily, about 20 minutes.
Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Cool on the counter or in the fridge; this is quickly done by spreading out on a sheet tray. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
To the homemade Ranch, add the bacon and cheese and stir. Add about half the potatoes (at this point, you can start to judge how thick the dressing is) and stir. If dressing needs to be thinned, add milk or buttermilk a little at a time. Once creamy, add the remainder of potatoes. Again, you may want to add just a little more milk or buttermilk. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed, to taste.
Refrigerate for an hour or two to blend flavors before serving, if possible. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with green onion or chives for garnish
Homemade Ranch Dressing:
In a large bowl, add the dry Ranch mix. Add smoked paprika and stir. Add the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and vinegar and stir. Mixture will be thick; it will be thinned with milk or buttermilk as the potatoes are added.
The exact amount of milk used to thin the dressing as the potatoes are added is dependent on how thick the yogurt or sour cream is initially and how thick you wish the potato salad dressing to be. Because both products vary in consistency, it’s best to add milk as the potatoes are added.
- Calories: 231
- Sugar: 6 grams
- Sodium: varies
- Fat: 12 grams
- Carbohydrates: 23 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 9 grams
- Cholesterol: 13 mg
Keywords: Bacon, cheddar, Cheese, Green Onion, hearty sides, home-made Ranch dressing, Mayonnaise, new potatoes, potato salad, Potatoes, ranch dressing, Ranch Dressing Mix, Sour cream, Vinegar, Yogurt
I’m taking this recipe over to Fiesta Friday 173, put on this week by the intrepid beach comber, Angie and her two co-hosts: Lindy @ Love In The Kitchen and Paula @ Her Life Is Love. I’m sensing love in the air, this week. It just takes a second to click over and visit and see all the great link-ups.