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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!

We love having a go-to side dish to bring to summer parties, and this pasta salad recipe is it! It’s as big of a hit as our Famous Potato Salad or Macaroni Salad.

Easy Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing served in bowl.

We LOVE IT!

We love to BBQ and gather for dinner with friends. One of our go-to salad recipes is this pasta salad recipe – and for so many reasons:

  • It’s simple! This recipe comes together in a cinch.
  • Easy to customize. Change what you add to the recipe to add the flavor and more. You can add other meat options, cheeses or veggies.
  • Make Ahead. This can easily be assembled several days in advance for any event or potluck.

Regardless of what you decide to include, this is the best pasta salad and will be great with any additions you make.

Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Rotini PastaUse short pasta shapes like fusilli, Farfalle, rotini, and penne. Their small size makes them perfectly easy to serve and eat in small bites.
  • Black Olives – Other additions that we love include: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red bell peppers, green onions, peperoncini, artichokes, or red onions.
  • Colby Jack cheese – We usually add cheese cubes, but you can also add fresh mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese or feta cheese.
  • Pepperoni Slices – Ham cubes, grilled chicken, bacon, + salami also work well.
  • Italian Dressing
  • Fresh Herbs – basil, oregano, or parsley can also enhance the flavors of this pasta salad.
Tricolored rotini in a colander to make italian pasta salad.

How to Make Pasta Salad

We love that this Italian pasta salad recipe can be made in a jiffy!

  1. PASTA. Cook 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, olives, cheese, and pepperoni.
  3. DRESS. 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.
  4. CHILL. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir in additional dressing to taste before serving.

NOTE: You can make a homemade Italian salad dressing to go with it or use a bottle of store-bought Italian dressing.

Pasta salad ingredients in a white bowl.

recipe tips

  • Bite-size. To make sure you get a fork full of different flavors, chop your vegetables into bite-size pieces. 
  • Keep it from drying out. 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 together, then add the remaining dressing right before serving.
  • Serve it with: Since this salad is a summer party favorite, we love to serve it alongside Burgers or Ribs and, of course, Grilled Corn on the Cob.
Different kinds of pastas in plastic containers.

Storing info

  • 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.
Pasta Salad recipe with Italian dressing in a bowl.

For more pasta SAlads:

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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
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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!

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!

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Recipe Rating




72 Comments

  1. Lacy says:

    5 stars
    I Added salad supreme to mine. Turned out awesome! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Juwan Howard says:

    5 stars
    This recipe came out so good! And it’s easy. I added grilled chicken strips for added protein.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Yum! I bet that was tasty! So glad you enjoyed the pasta salad!

  3. Kathleen Ford- Smith says:

    5 stars
    Hi Lilluna this pasta salad is the best one I’ve made! A great recipe! Thanks for posting!

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      You’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed the pasta salad!

  4. Sheena says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this pasta!! It’s so good, I can eat it as a meal all on its own! 😀 I truly enjoy all of your recipes. I wish I could rate higher than 5 stars because they definitely rate passed 5!! Thank you for all the awesome recipes!

  5. Paige L. says:

    Love this recipe it’s quick and easy. It’s always a party favorite.

  6. Jenna says:

    5 stars
    Great and easy recipe for summer picnics and bbq!

  7. Sevanna Utesch says:

    5 stars
    Love this pasta salad

  8. Kirsten Stone says:

    5 stars
    I like Pasta Salad Recipes Cant wait to try it out

  9. Leslie Stevenson says:

    5 stars
    This is an especially attractive pasta salad. Usually they look kind of blah, but this one is colorful with the multicolored pasta and the add-ins.

  10. Arthur Lindsey says:

    5 stars
    I just made this recipe but added in Broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes and Cucumber chunks.
    And that salad supreme seasoning that another review commented on using! Tasty and will be tastier in a few hours!