Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing

Easy Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing takes minutes to make. It’s a classic side dish, perfect for BBQs, picnics, or any night of the week!

We love having a go-to side dish to bring to summer parties – and this Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing is it! Other favorites include our Famous Potato Salad, Corn Salad and Tortellini Salad. They’re all simple, and great to enjoy all summer long.

Easy Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing served in bowl.

Easy pasta salad

Summer is all about being lazy, and enjoying time with family! We love to BBQ and gather for dinner with friends. One of our go to salad recipes is Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing.

Our family has been making this cold pasta salad for at least 10 years! It’s always a hit when we bring it to events.

Depending on the crowd you’re feeding, or what your family likes, you can customize the ingredients to your choosing. Regardless of what you decide to include, this pasta salad is easy, and simply the best!

The best pasta for pasta salad. Choose a pasta that has nooks and crannies, for little pockets of dressing and herbs to settle. Use short pasta shapes like fusilli, farfalle, rotini, and penne. Their small size makes them perfectly easy to serve, and eat small bites.

Different kinds of pastas in plastic containers.

Ingredient Variations

We usually include chunks of cheese, olives, mini pepperonis and parmesan cheese in our Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing. You could easily take out, or add in any of these ingredients:

  • Veggies: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red bell peppers, green onions or red onions
  • Meat: ham cubes, grilled chicken, crab, bacon, salami or pepperoncini
  • Fresh herbs: basil, oregano, or parsley
  • Cheese: fresh mozzarella cheese or feta cheese
Tricolored rotini in a colander to make italian pasta salad.

HOW TO MAKE pasta salad

We love that this recipe can be made in a jiffy. You can make a homemade Italian salad dressing to go with it, but we love that a bottle of store bought Italian dressing works perfectly in this pasta salad.

PASTA. Boil the pasta noodles according to package directions. When they’re cooked, drain and rinse pasta with cold water. (For added flavor, add 1-1½ tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta you are boiling.)

MIX INS. Add in your desired amount of other ingredients (we always use olives, cheese, and pepperonis – sometimes tomatoes and cucumbers). Pour at least half of the Italian dressing on the salad, and mix well.

CHILL + SERVE. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, pour the remaining dressing on right before serving!

recipe tips

Bite size. To make sure you get a fork full of different flavors, be sure to chop your vegetables to bite size. 

Keep it creamy. There are a couple of things you can do to help keep the pasta from absorbing all of the dressing. I only add ½ of the dressing when I toss it together so that all the flavors can meld together, then add the remaining dressing right before serving. You can also toss the pasta in a light coating of olive oil to create a barrier so the noodles can’t absorb all the dressing.

Pasta salad ingredients in bowl for making pasta salad with Italian dressing.

Storing info

Make ahead of time. Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing is best when eaten right after you put on the dressing. If you want to make it ahead of time, store the dressing in a separate container, and toss it with the pasta salad before you want to serve/eat it.

STORE. Keep this pasta salad in an airtight container. Leftovers will last in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. You can have pasta salad for lunches and dinners all week!

FREEZE. While I do not recommend freezing this pasta salad, you can freeze some of the ingredients separately. Avoid freezing any of the fresh produce, because they’ll become mushy once they thaw. You can freeze the cheese cubes, pepperoni and pasta. 

Plain cooked pasta can be frozen:

  • Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss the pasta in a light coating of olive oil, spread it out on the baking sheet and place it in the freezer.
  • Once solid, transfer the noodles to a freezer Ziploc.
  • To thaw, spread the pasta out on a baking sheet. When ready, proceed with the recipe.
Pasta Salad recipe with Italian dressing in a bowl.

For more salad recipes, check out:

Pasta Salad Recipe

5 from 91 votes
This easy pasta salad recipe takes minutes to make. It's a classic side dish, perfect for BBQs, picnics, or any night of the week!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Refrigerating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 344 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna


  • 16 ounces (4 cups) colored rotini pasta (fusilli, farfalle, and penne work too) cooked
  • ½ cup diced black olives
  • ½ cup cubed Colby Jack cheese
  • ½ cup mini pepperoni slices
  • ¾-1 cup Italian dressing

Optional Mix-Ins

  • chopped cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped peppers, ham cubes, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts


  • Cook pasta as directed on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl, combine cool pasta, olives, cheese, and pepperoni.
  • Pour at least half of the Italian dressing into the pasta salad and mix well.
  • Add any desired mix-ins to the pasta salad and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir in additional dressing to taste before serving.



Make Ahead: This pasta salad is best when eaten right after you put on the additional dressing after chilling. If you want to make it ahead of time, combine all ingredients except the dressing in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate. Toss with the dressing right before serving.

Like this recipe?

Pin it now to remember it later! Share it with your Facebook friends (you know they’ll love it). Or tweet it to the world. Maybe even email it to your favorite cousin!

Related Posts

Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Easy & Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad is light, delicious, and flavorful. This simply dressed salad is a favorite! My favorite thing about this pasta salad is that it’s lighter, healthier,…

15 minutes minutes

5 from 10 votes

Chicken Caesar Salad

This chicken caesar salad is jam-packed with filling ingredients. It’s so flavorful, you won’t believe how simple it is to make! If you like how hearty and filling this chicken…

10 minutes minutes

5 from 19 votes

How to Make Egg Salad

Gather a handful of ingredients and follow these simple steps on How to make Egg Salad for a deliciously classic side or tasty sandwich. This one is a perfect recipe…

10 minutes minutes

4.95 from 18 votes

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Using the grill is one of our new favorite ways to cook corn! Grilled Corn on the Cob will be your go-to side dish this summer. Corn is the perfect…

17 minutes minutes

5 from 5 votes

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

Join the Conversation

Rate and Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Awesome, easy, delicious! We will probably make again and again. It’ll be fun to try variations of mix ins.

  2. 5 stars
    This is my go-to salad to take to BBQs with our neighbors during the summer. We especially love it on the Fourth of July. I love the crunch of the cucumbers in this salad!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for my church girls camp, the girls cleaned out the bowl and asked if I had more to make the next day. Id say that’s a great endorsement.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my new go-to side dish for summer bbq’s and potlucks! It’s beyond easy to throw together, and always a crowd pleaser.

  5. 5 stars
    This has been my go-to pasta salad since Summer. I use the creamy italian and everyone loves it. I love how you add what and as much as you want too.

  6. 5 stars
    I added artichoke hearts, ham chunks, since I wasn’t in the mood for pepperoni, small diced sweet peppers. I snuck those in since my fiance refused to try them, lol, they were great!

  7. 5 stars
    Love love love this pasta salad. I actually just made this for Mother’s Day yesterday. So easy and good. I do add in a little purple onion and extra olives. So good.

  8. 5 stars
    This is such a great tasting salad. I added some cubed ham to mine. This will definitely become a regular side dish in my home.

  9. I’m making this a day ahead. So are you saying to not add any dressing at all until the next day or not all of the dressing? Please clarify.

See More Comments