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posted July 31, 2023

The Best Pasta Salad

On the hunt for that perfect side for every single occasion? Look no further than this quick and easy pasta salad recipe. Made with a homemade Italian dressing, it’s light and refreshing, but hearty enough to feed a crowd.

Pasta salad in a glass serving bowl with text overlay - The Best Pasta Salad.

The BEST Pasta Salad

Looking for the best pasta salad around? This one is packed with perfectly cooked rotini noodles, veggies, cheese, pepperoni, and a killer dressing. This pasta salad is my absolute favorite side to bring to a big potluck. It feeds a crowd and goes with just about anything else being served. You can also adjust the serving size depending on how many folks you are intending to feed. 

The secret to this pasta salad standing out in the crowd is having the perfect ratio of noodles to the other elements and a stellar homemade pasta salad dressing. You’ve likely already got the ingredients for the dressing on hand, and it stands worlds above anything from a bottle.

Ingredients for pasta salad arranged on a wooden cutting board.

Pasta Salad Dressing

This pasta salad dressing recipe is a simple oil and vinegar-based dressing that is nice and light with plenty of flavor. It works well with all the veggies, noodles, and pepperoni so you don’t feel overwhelmed by a strong flavor. Here’s what you need to make this dressing.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To make the dressing, simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine. You can also add everything to a mason jar and shake or stir to mix the dressing. Add an airtight lid to store the dressing in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the salad.

Dressing being added to a bowl full of ingredients for pasta salad.

How to Make Pasta Salad

Here’s how to make this delicious pasta salad from scratch. Don’t be intimidated by this recipe. It’s easy and straightforward and tastes much more complicated than it actually is.

  1. Make the dressing. Follow the instructions in the previous section to make the pasta salad dressing and refrigerate until you are ready to make the salad.
  2. Assemble. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package and drain. Allow the pasta to cool completely before adding it to a large mixing bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients (cheese, pepperoni, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, pepper, and onions) to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Add the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat everything evenly.
  4. Chill and serve. Once the salad is thoroughly mixed, place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30-60 minutes before serving to your guests. This salad is best when served on the cool side, so I like to pull it out of the refrigerator straight to the table.

Pasta salad being tossed with wooden salad tongs.

Tips for Making Easy Pasta Salad

Here are some tips for making this easy pasta salad. It’s great as a side dish to BBQ or for just about any occasion. 

  • Salt the water when cooking your noodles. Nothing sucks the flavor out of a pasta salad faster than bland noodles. You want your pasta water to taste as salty as the ocean before you add your uncooked noodles.
  • Let it sit. Once you’ve mixed your salad, give it a good 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge to let everything marinate together before serving it to your guests.
  • Be creative in your additions. You can add in or swap out most of the vegetables and cheeses in this recipe. Feel free to leave out the onions or olives if they’re not your favorite. Some fun swaps are chopped broccoli, diced cheddar cheese, or crumbled bacon.

Pasta salad in a glass serving bowl.

More Side Salad Recipes

Need some delicious sides to round out your meal? Here are some tasty suggestions to try out today from Hey Grill Hey. They’ve been tried and true over the years and come highly reviewed by friends and family.

Pasta Salad Recipe

Hey Grill Hey is here to ensure you master a BBQ recipe like a total pro. In fact, we hope each recipe and tutorial makes you feel like a backyard BBQ hero so you can feed the people you love.

If you loved this recipe, be sure to rate it 5 stars and leave us a comment below! You can also access this amazing recipe and over 500 other recipes on the Hey Grill Hey App.

Pasta salad in a glass serving bowl.

The BEST Pasta Salad

Susie Bulloch
On the hunt for that perfect side for every single occasion? Look no further than this quick and easy pasta salad recipe. Made with a homemade Italian dressing, it's light and refreshing, but hearty enough to feed a crowd.
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 15 mins
Chill Time : 30 mins
Total Time : 1 hr
Servings : 12 people
Calories : 349kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound rotini pasta (cooked al dente according to package instructions and cooled)
  • 8 ounces soft mozzarella cheese (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 4 ounces mini pepperoni
  • ½ cup cucumber (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • ½ cup sliced olives
  • ½ cup red bell pepper (cut into 1/4 inch thick slices)
  • ¼ cup red onion (thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup green onions (whites and greens sliced)

Pasta Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Make the dressing. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate in a sealed jar until ready to use.
  • Assemble. Add the cooked noodles to a large serving bowl. Next, add in the cubed cheese, pepperoni, olives, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper slices, red onion slices, and green onions. Mix gently to combine.
  • Add the dressing. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat.
  • Refrigerate. Cover the pasta salad and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour before serving. This gives the dressing a chance to marinate all of the ingredients.
  • Enjoy. Serve the salad chilled from the fridge. Dig in!

Nutrition

Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 554mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 408IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 1mg
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