This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This easy pasta salad recipe is thrown together in minutes, offering a delicious, classic side perfect for BBQs, picnics, or a no-fuss weeknight meal.

Easy Pasta Salad recipe with Italian Dressing served in bowl.

We Love THIS Pasta Salad!

We love to BBQ and gather for dinner with friends. One of our go-to salad recipes is this pasta salad recipe that we’ve made our entire lives.

In fact, it’s such a favorite of the kids that one of the girls makes it at least every other week. We not only make it for BBQs and pool parties, but as a side dish for many dishes like: Hamburgers, Chicken Nuggets and Flat Iron Steak.

What’s to love:

  • It’s simple! This easy side dish comes together in a cinch.
  • Easy to customize. Change what you add to the recipe to add flavor and more. You can add other meat options, cheeses, or veggies.
  • Make ahead option. Pasta salad recipes can easily be assembled several days in advance for any event or potluck.
Tricolored rotini in a colander to make italian pasta salad.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (4 cups) colored rotini pasta cooked – fusilli, farfalle, and penne will work as an alternative pasta shape.
  • ½ cup diced black olives
  • ½ cup cubed Colby Jack cheese – We usually add cheese cubes, but you can also add fresh mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, or feta cheese.
  • ½ cup mini pepperoni slices – ham cubes, grilled chicken, bacon, and salami also work well.
  • ¾-1 cup Italian dressing Make a homemade Italian salad dressing to go with it or use a bottle of store-bought Italian dressing.
  • optional mix-ins chopped cucumbers, halved grape tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, ham cubes, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, red onion, or kalamata olives. To get a fork full of different flavors, chop your vegetables into bite-size pieces. 
  • optional fresh herbs – basil, oregano, or parsley can also enhance the flavors of this pasta salad.

How to Make Pasta Salad

  1. PASTA. Boil 16 ounces (4 cups) al dente pasta as directed on the package in a large pot. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. COMBINE. In a large bowl, combine cool pasta, ½ cup olives, ½ cup cubed cheese, and ½ cup pepperoni.
  3. DRESS. Pour at least half of ¾-1 cup Italian dressing into the pasta salad and mix well. Add any desired mix-ins to the pasta salad and mix well.
  4. CHILL. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir in additional dressing to taste before serving.
Save This Recipe!
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
5 from 250 votes

Pasta Salad Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
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!
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Refrigerating Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 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 grape tomatoes, chopped peppers, ham cubes, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts
Save This Recipe!
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Make it ahead of time. Pasta salad is best when eaten right after adding the dressing. To make it ahead of time, store the dressing in a separate container, and toss it with the pasta salad before you 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. We do not recommend freezing pasta salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 344kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 515mg, Potassium: 178mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 123IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 77mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Making this recipe? Tag us!
Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

Recipe FAQ

  • Keep the pasta from absorbing all of the dressing, only add ½ of the dressing when tossing it together so that all the flavors can meld, then add the remaining dressing right before serving.
  • Pasta salad is best when eaten right after adding the dressing. To make it ahead of time, store the dressing in a separate container, and toss it with the pasta salad before you serve/eat it.
  • Keep this pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. You can have classic pasta salad for lunches and dinners all week!
  • We do not recommend freezing pasta salad.

For more pasta SAlads:

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!

So Easy & So Yummy

Get my cookbook!

My new cookbook is the ultimate resource for feeding your friends and family with 200+ simple recipes including videos, tips & more!

5 from 250 votes (210 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

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

Recipe Rating




72 Comments

  1. Maria says:

    5 stars
    It’s the first time I made a pasta salad, and this handy recipe was just what I needed! I also appreciate that the recipe includes variation ingredients (add-ins) and is super easy to make!

  2. gretchen says:

    that pasta salad looks pretty good

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Hope you enjoy!!