Creamy and full of flavor, this copycat Ruby Tuesday Pasta Salad is crazy popular, and now you can make it at home whenever the craving strikes!
A COPYCAT RECIPE FOR A CREAMY PASTA SALAD
My co-workers and I used to go to Ruby Tuesday all the time for their salad bar for lunch. One of our favorites was their pasta salad. A pretty simple pasta salad, but it was so good! So when all of the Ruby Tuesday restaurants closed in our area, I was determined to come up with my own version that has all that familiar flavor, is super creamy, and can be made in just 30 minutes! So let’s get ready to tickle your tastebuds with this recipe for one of Ruby Tuesday’s most popular dishes!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Wanna ditch the ranch seasoning package? Instead, use 2 Tablespoons of some homemade ranch seasoning. Here’s a simple recipe you can use!
If you want the pasta salad to taste as close to the one you get at Ruby Tuesday’s, then you’re going to want to use buttermilk. However, if you’re out or don’t have time for the store, you can use regular milk. Just don’t use skim milk, it won’t turn out right.
I know you can add vinegar or lemon juice to milk to make a fake buttermilk but it doesn’t make the milk thicker. Real buttermilk is thick and rich. Adding lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk does not give you that same richness and thickness, it just makes it sour. So I’m not a fan of making the fake buttermilk. Just use plain milk instead.
For this copycat recipe, I highly recommend that you chill it for at least an hour. Chilling it allows the pasta salad to meld all the flavors together. However, if you don’t have the time, you can serve it right away. It may taste a little mayonnaise-y though, as it hasn’t had time to mix all the flavors together.
If you want to add some things to the dish, you can try bite size pieces of broccoli or cauliflower, maybe some green onions, crispy bacon bits, or chopped red onion too.
Updated to add: current Ruby Tuesday employees tell me the pasta salad now has diced green peppers as well. I don’t remember those being in there years ago but apparently they are now. So feel free to add in one diced green pepper if you enjoy those!
Yes! Again, this will change the flavor a bit, but it also may take the recipe to a whole new level in my opinion. If you’re wanting to add some cheese, try some fontina cheese, provolone, Swiss, diced cheddar cheese, or some shredded mozzarella cheese.
You could also try adding ¼ cup of grated parmesan to the sauce to really amp up the flavor.
No, rinsing the pasta is essential. It helps stop the pasta cooking process. If you skip it, you may end up with some mushy, overcooked pasta. I also recommend cooking it al dente anyway. You don’t want soggy pasta for this recipe and al dente pasta is just the right texture.
Yes, you can use other pasta shapes. Rotini is what is used in the Ruby Tuesday version, but you can also use farfalle, rigatoni, penne, spaghetti, cavatappi, etc. I would recommend smaller pasta shapes for this recipe.
I use frozen peas because they’ll thaw in the pasta salad as it hangs out in the refrigerator. Frozen peas thaw super quickly but they also help keep the salad cold. It also helps prevent having super mushy peas since they start out more firm while frozen.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Just be sure to give the pasta salad a good stirring before you dish it out, to help it make sure it’s all well coated again. I don’t recommend freezing.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- rotini – these are the noodles used in the Ruby Tuesday pasta salad but you could, of course use whatever you like! Cavatappi, farfalle or elbow macaroni all work here.
- mayonnaise – I’m a Hellman’s, JFG or a Duke’s girl myself when it comes to mayonnaise. I am not a fan of Miracle Whip but if that is your thing – go for it!
- buttermilk – I go into this in a bit more detail in the FAQ section above.
- dried ranch seasoning – this is not a strong flavor at all but gives it a really subtle background flavor that keeps it from just tasting like a typical mayonnaise based pasta salt.
- garlic salt – you can just use garlic powder if that is all you have.
- frozen peas – I love the bright color of frozen peas and they defrost very fast. You could use canned peas but they add such a dull color that I wouldn’t recommend it. they would taste fine but I just don’t like the look it brings to a vibrant pasta salad.
- ham – I just picked up a ham steak and diced it up. This is a wonderful way to use up any leftover ham you might have.
- green peppers (optional) – Since posting this recipe, I’ve had no less than 10 ruby Tuesday employees tell me that there is in fact green peppers in the original pasta salad. I did not include them in my recipe but I have added them as optional in case you really want to add them.
HOW TO MAKE RUBY TUESDAY PASTA SALAD
Cook the rotini noodles per the directions on the back of the box. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow again to drain well, we don’t want the pasta adding too much excess moisture to the pasta salad.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch seasoning, garlic salt, and black pepper. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to assemble to pasta salad.
In a large bowl, stir together the pasta, frozen peas, and ham.
Add the dressing and stir until everything is coated in the dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour so the flavors can mingle.
Give it a good stir before serving and enjoy.
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Ruby Tuesday Pasta Salad (+Video)
- Cook the rotini noodles per the directions on the back of the box. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Make sure it drains very well after rinsing. We don’t want the pasta adding too much excess moisture to the pasta salad.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch seasoning, garlic salt, and black pepper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the pasta, frozen peas, and ham.
- Add the dressing and stir until everything is coated in the dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour so the flavors can mingle. Give it a good stir before serving.
- Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
- You can serve this right away, it is delicious, but I recommend allowing it to chill for about 1 hour. If you eat it right away, it tastes a little mayonnaise-y so you want those flavors to mingle.
- Milk can be substituted for the buttermilk; however, it will no longer taste like a copycat recipe.
- This is out-of-this-world good, I just love the flavor combination. It doesn’t taste like ranch really, it just gives a fantastic flavor to the overall dish.
- Updated to add: current Ruby Tuesday employees tell me the pasta salad now has diced green peppers as well. So feel free to add in one diced green pepper if you enjoy those.
- You can add the peas from frozen, they will thaw in the pasta salad and help make it extra cold.
- Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.