Dill Pickle Ranch Pasta Salad, The Dish To Bring To Every Potluck

This features a secret star ingredient you likely already have in your fridge.

Summer is here and that means it’s potluck season. Bring on the backyard barbecues, the rooftop soirees and the outdoor dinners. Whenever I’m invited to these events I always want to bring that one dish that wows the other guests. You want to hear people whispering, “What’s in this? Who made it? How do I get the recipe?” while they shove another forkful in their mouths.

Pasta salad is always a good choice to bring to these types of parties: It can be made ahead of time and tastes better the longer it sits. But there’s one problem ― it can be boring and flavorless.

But good news: Making a stellar pasta salad only takes one simple ingredient you probably already have in the back of your fridge … pickle juice!

Using the leftover brine from a jar of pickles isn’t a new phenomenon: It’s been used to marinate chicken, cure hangovers, add a zing to bloody marys and even relieve cramps in athletes. The juice and spices at the bottom of the jar are a delicious combination of vinegar, garlic, dill, mustard seeds, peppercorns and coriander seeds. It adds a brightness to dishes with a pop of acidity, sourness and tang. Think of it as a one-stop shop for flavor.

In this recipe, the pickle juice cuts the richness of the mayo in a dill-heavy ranch dressing while adding a briny punch of flavor. The pasta salad also includes perfectly al dente noodles, a good measure of diced pickles, hunks of sharp cheddar cheese, fresh summer tomatoes and of course extra crispy thick-cut bacon. It’s basically all of your favorite foods combined into one dish and conveniently called a “salad.”

The next time you’re looking to be the culinary superstar of the summer, look no further than a jar of pickles. The results will surprise you and your friends.

Dill Pickle Ranch Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8


  • 12 ounces gemelli pasta

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, diced in 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup kosher dill pickles, chopped (preferred brand is Claussen)

Dill Pickle Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

  • 1/4 cup pickle juice from jar of kosher dill pickles

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • Kosher salt and pepper


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook according to package until al dente. Rinse under cold water and drain.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels to remove excess grease.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, sour cream, dill, pickle juice, milk, garlic powder and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper.

4. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cooked bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and pickles. Add dressing and toss until combined.

5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Pasta Salads