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These cold pasta salad recipes offer loads of ideas for celebrating the season! Enjoy them at potlucks, BBQs, or for lunches.

Pasta Salad
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Tis the season for pasta salads! They come in every size and shape: from nostalgic classics to fresh, zingy spins. Here are our top cold pasta salad recipes to try this summer!

There’s everything from the Italian style classic to Greek, macaroni, tuna, and taco salad. Along with top recipes from this website, we’re featuring selections from some favorite recipe developers from around the web.

Our top cold pasta salad recipes

Tip: cook the pasta to al dente

The most important part of for any pasta salad recipe? Cook the pasta to al dente. Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian, and signifies to cook until it’s tender with a small white speck inside when you bite into a piece. Here are a few tips for the perfect al dente pasta:

  • Boil the pasta a few minutes less than indicated on the package instructions. Often package instructions make for overcooked pasta.
  • Start taste testing early. Start taste testing and stop cooking when the pasta is just tender but you can still see a small white speck inside.
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Pasta Salad

15 Cold Pasta Salad Recipes

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10 to 12 side dish servings 1x


This pasta salad recipe is bursting with flavor! It’s easy to mix up with veggies, herbs, and a tangy Italian dressing.



For the salad*

  • 1 pound fusilli spiral pasta (or any short-cut pasta like penne, bowties, etc)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (basil and parsley or dill)
  • ¾ cup black or green olives, sliced
  • ¾ cup sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers
  • 6 ounces small mozzarella cheese balls (Ciliegine)
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

For the dressing**

  • ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each dried dill, oregano, and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup neutral oil (like organic vegetable or grapeseed***)
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and run cool water over it until it’s room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes, dice the bell pepper and slice the red onion. Chop the fresh herbs. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, dried dill, oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil and neutral oil
  4. Once the pasta is done, add it to the large bowl of dressing and toss with the chopped vegetables. Add the olives, pepperoncini, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold. Stores up to 5 days refrigerated (leftovers taste great; allow to come to room temperature and add a swirl more olive oil or a bit more cheese or salt as necessary).


*This makes a very large batch: 10 to 12 side dish servings or about 8 lunch servings. Consider making a half batch if you can’t eat it all in 5 days.

**In a rush? Substitute ¾ cup Italian dressing or your purchased vinaigrette dressing of choice for the homemade dressing.

***Using neutral oil in a pasta salad helps leftovers keep in the fridge: if you use only olive oil, it clumps up after about 1 day of storage. You can use 100% olive oil if you prefer.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!