These cold pasta salad recipes offer loads of ideas for celebrating the season! Enjoy them at potlucks, BBQs, or for lunches.
‘Tis the season for pasta salads! They come in every size and shape: from nostalgic classics to fresh, zingy spins. Here are our top 15 cold pasta salad recipes to try this summer: 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 websites from around the web. Let’s get started!
Here’s a cold pasta salad with all the classic elements: chewy mozzarella balls, crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, salty olives and tangy pops of pepperoncini. Cover it all in a tangy Italian-style dressing, and it’s a delightful mix of textures, flavors and colors. It’s ideal for a summer potluck or cookout, and saves well for lunches throughout the week
Here’s our go-to when it comes to cold pasta salad recipes: Greek Pasta Salad! This one pairs Mediterranean-style flavors with chewy bowtie pasta for a zingy, fresh combination that can’t be beat. Juicy cherry tomatoes contrast cool cucumber, salty olives, and savory feta cheese, with generous handfuls of parsley, dill, and a Greek-style vinaigrette dressing.
Here’s a cold pasta salad recipe that’s ultra versatile for picnics, barbecues, and an easy lunch idea: Tortellini Salad! The tang of the artichoke, chewy pillowy pasta, zippy tomatoes, and peppery basil come together into a symphony of flavor! Even better, it stores up to 4 days in the fridge, making it a perfect easy lunch.
Try this Pesto Pasta Salad recipe, which celebrates everything seasonal in summer! It features chewy bowties with pops of fresh cherry tomatoes, tangy artichokes and peppery baby arugula. Make a batch of fresh basil pesto or grab some at the store, then mix it up in to a creamy dressing to cover everything.
Here’s a colorful, fresh pasta salad for summer or anytime: Mediterranean pasta salad! This instantly became a favorite summer side dish with its zingy, bright flavors. Imagine: cool cucumber, juicy tomatoes and peppery arugula, mixed with chewy pasta and salty pops of feta cheese. Hearty sundried tomato gives it an even more irresistible quality to each bite.
This cold pasta salad recipe is a simple combination of juicy cherry tomatoes and fresh peppery basil, tossed together with soft mozzarella and chewy farfalle pasta. Because who doesn’t want more excuses to eat that classic Italian Caprese salad? It’s ideal for cookouts, pitch-ins and outdoor gatherings of all kinds: plus, leftovers work well for lunches.
A can of tuna transforms into seriously tasty pasta salads: like this nostalgic Tuna Pasta Salad! It’s creamy but not too rich, with a splash of white wine vinegar and a sprinkle of dried dill. It’s a seriously simple pantry meal that gives us cozy nostalgic vibes…and it works as a make-ahead lunch too.
Need an easy side dish or lunch idea? This orzo pasta salad recipe is bursting with flavor and the perfect accessory for any meal. It stars the tender pasta grains with crunchy veggies, salty feta cheese, fresh herbs and a zippy vinaigrette dressing. The best part? It tastes great for days! Leftovers hold up well in the fridge, making it perfect for lunches throughout the week too.
This easy bow tie pasta salad has become a favorite! Pair the chewy noodles with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and feta cheese, then swirl it with a quick and easy vinaigrette dressing. It’s a quick side dish that everyone will love!
Want a comforting side for summer? Try this cold shrimp pasta salad! It's creamy and herby, with retro vibes of picnics and family potlucks. It stars tender baby shrimp and pasta shells, tossed with a creamy dressing, fresh dill, peas and crunchy veggies. Something about the flavor will keep you coming back for more!
A total classic, this macaroni salad made with simple ingredients delivers big flavor. It pairs pasta with hard boiled eggs and crunchy veggies like celery, red pepper and onion, all bathed in a lusciously creamy dressing. A picnic and summertime hit! Via Immaculate Bites
This simple cold pasta salad recipe packed with flavors, textures and colors, featuring savory chicken, crunchy veggies, and a creamy mayo and ranch dressing. It's a fantastic summer dish that can be served as a side or a complete meal on its own! via Immaculate Bites
There's no need for meat or cheese in a pasta salad...really! Try this easy vegan cold pasta salad recipe: perfect for lunch, a quick weeknight dinner, and so much more! It’s loaded with flavor and topped with a homemade Italian vinaigrette. via Jessica in the Kitchen
This cold grilled corn and crab pasta salad recipe is summer in a dish! Crisp, refreshing and perfect for the warm summer weather. It's great for BBQs, summer dinners, and leftovers are perfect for lunches. via How Sweet Eats
This cold pasta salad recipe is all about green! It's loaded with bright and crunchy summer veggies like celery, asparagus, cucumbers, collard greens, and peas. Then add a full-flavored, creamy, herby green dressing to cover it all. via Meiko and the Dish
Why not make taco salad into a cold pasta salad? Try Taco Pasta Salad, filled with veggies, cheese, tortilla chips, and dressed in a creamy catalina dressing! It’s a crowd favorite that’s welcome at every summer party, picnic, and barbecue. For vegetarian, substitute vegan crumbles for the ground beef. via Isabel Eats
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.
¼ cupneutral oil (like organic vegetable or grapeseed***)
Fresh ground black pepper
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.
Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes, dice the bell pepper and slice the red onion. Chop the fresh herbs.
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.
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.