As Summer approaches, prepare for parties, barbecues, and more. These 17 best pasta salad recipes are great additions to any summer party or picnic. Pasta Salad is quick and easy to make. It doesn’t need to be redhead as most are cold pasta recipes.
Cold Pasta Salad is the perfect make-ahead meal. You can make as much as you need, whether you need enough for a small picnic or a huge party.
Cold Pasta Salad Recipes come in all sorts of varieties. Italian dressing is the traditional version. However, there are Mexican, Southern, and even Asian recipes.
Cold Pasta Recipes can be simple and rustic, or you can glam it up with fancy sauces, dressings, and ingredients. Enjoy these delicious and easy pasta salad recipes.
1. Easy Cold Pasta Salad
This simple cold pasta salad is perfect for a summer picnic or a potluck dinner. The ingredients are easy to prepare, and the directions are easy to follow.
This salad is easy to make vegan. Just make sure the pasta and dressing are vegan.
Make this recipe Gluten-Free by swapping the pasta with a gluten-free version. You can make this keto-friendly by using Keto pasta.
To make this salad more upscale, use kalamata black olives, red onions, and a homemade Italian salad dressing.
The secret to this recipe is giving the pasta time to cool down. If you can’t find rotini pasta, it is important to find a close substitute.
2. Creamy Pasta Salad
This Creamy Pasta Salad is best served cold. The key to this salad is using good mayonnaise for the dressing. This recipe calls for macaroni pasta. However, you can substitute any small bite-sized pasta noodle.
It is easy to make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles.
To make the pasta salad keto-friendly, use keto noodles. You can also substitute your favorite vegetables.
This dish calls for broccoli, cucumber, red pepper, and olives. You can switch out or add any other vegetables.
For some added color, consider using the tri-colored baby bell peppers.
3. Easy Cold Pasta Salad
This is another one of the best cold pasta salad recipes. This recipe uses an Italian dressing. However, you can swap it for any dressing you prefer. Swap out the noodles to make this dish gluten-free or keto-friendly.
It is easy to make this salad vegan. All you have to do is make sure to use vegan pasta and vegan dressing, and remove the cheese.
You can also swap the cheese for vegan cheese.
If you are not a fan of bell peppers, you can swap out poblano or pasilla peppers. These mild peppers are green, so to add some color, add tomatoes.
4. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Mediterranean Pasta Salad is one of the most popular pasta salad ideas. This recipe has you making your own salad dressing. Swap out fresh herbs for the dried herbs for some extra punch of flavor.
This delicious pasta salad is easy to make and full of delicious flavors.
Add some kalamata olives to get a Greek salad flavor. If you are vegan, you can remove or swap the cheese. Between the chickpeas and pine nuts, there is plenty of protein.
5. Tuna Pasta Salad
This is one of the classic cold pasta dishes. It is super easy to make and delicious. Like all cold pasta salads, you can make it ahead of time, refrigerate it, and serve it when the time comes.
The secret to this pasta salad’s creamy dressing is mixing greek yoghurt and mayonnaise together. The recipe calls for dill. However, you can add any other seasonings that you like with tuna.
To make this dish extra special, consider trying it with a freshly grilled tuna steak.
6. Mexican Pasta Salad
This Mexican Pasta Salad is one of the best pasta salad recipes ever. It is an awesome fusion of Italian (the pasta) and Mexican (everything else) flavors. To make this pasta gluten-free, look for gluten-free corn or rice-based pasta.
The recipe is simple and easy. It calls for canned corn and beans.
If you want to make it more upscale, swap out the canned for frozen corn. You can even go all the way and use fresh corn removed from the cob.
7. Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad is another popular choice among cold pasta salad recipes. For some added color, consider using veggie pasta or colored pasta.
This recipe calls for making your own pesto. However, you can easily find a good pesto at the store.
If you go the store-bought route, make sure that you add some olive oil so that the pesto spreads evenly.
Optional additions include feta or mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives, and chickpeas. These additions not only add flavor but also make the dish more complex.
8. Shrimp Pasta Salad
Shrimp Pasta Salad has many of the same ingredients as the tuna pasta salad. It is a fun pasta salad idea for seafood lovers. You can also swap in crab or lobster meat if you prefer.
The key to the dressing in this recipe is mayonnaise. However, if you are not a fan of mayonnaise, you can use aioli, which is very similar but has a better flavor.
Alternatively, use a vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon, and dill.
To thicken the vinaigrette, you can use a little bit of mustard; Tarragon mustard is especially tasty for this dish.
9. Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad
This Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad is delicious and versatile. If you are gluten-free or Keto, swap out the Orzo for a good gluten-free or Keto alternative. You can also swap any vegetables you want.
One of the great things about this recipe for cold pasta salad is that it is vegan.
There is no cheese or dairy, or mayonnaise in this recipe. However, if you are a cheese lover, you can add some mozzarella balls or feta.
This recipe calls for a large tomato. An easy way to chop tomatoes small is to buy cherry tomatoes instead of a large tomato.
10. Chicken Pasta Salad
Chicken Pasta Salad is great because it is easy to customize. This recipe makes a Mediterranean-style chicken pasta salad. However, you could easily make it Mexican or Asian by swapping the veggies and sauces.
One way to speed this recipe up is to use pre-cooked chicken. For example, you can use rotisserie chicken.
This makes this salad a great choice for leftover chicken.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can swap in a meat substitute or simply leave out the meat altogether.
11. Creamy Macaroni Pasta Salad
This cold pasta salad recipe has a lot of delicious crunch to it. From the celery to the radishes, you get some great texture. This is the perfect recipe for someone who likes a crunch in every bite.
The secret ingredient in this pasta salad recipe is the pickle. If you love pickles, feel free to add as much as you like.
One of the great things about pasta salads is that you can add as many or as few of any ingredient so long as you make enough dressing.
12. Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad
This Cold Pasta Salad Recipe is another delicious seafood option. The recipe calls for shrimp, but you can substitute any seafood you want; crab, lobster, scallops, chopped white fish, or tuna.
Add some lemon zest or old bay seasoning for a bit of pizzazz.
The recipe calls for dill, but you can use any fresh herbs you like. You can also use your favorite seafood seasoning.
The dressing is made from a mayonnaise base, so it is important to use mayonnaise with a good flavor.
High-end mayonnaise, homemade mayonnaise, or even aioli are great options.
13. Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
This creamy chicken pasta salad is perfect for a summer picnic. It is easy to make and tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge. One of the secret ingredients in this recipe is bacon.
You can cook your own bacon and chicken or buy pre-cooked versions. Rotisserie chicken and high-end bacon are the best options for good flavor.
It is also important to use good mayonnaise and mustard to make the dressing, tarragon mustard is a good option with chicken.
14. Herbed Mushroom Pasta Salad
This recipe is one of the best vegan cold pasta recipes on this list. It is naturally vegan so long as the pasta is vegan. If you are not vegan, a sprinkle of parmesan on top of this salad adds a nice touch.
It is important to cook the mushrooms just right. You want them soft, not chewy. One thing you can do is swap out the mushrooms.
If you like the fancy mushrooms from the store, use them. Just make sure they are cooked right.
This pasta salad makes a great side dish to go with roasted chicken. You can even toss some sauteed chicken into the salad.
15. Summer Orzo Pasta Salad
Summer Orzo Pasta Salad is a great option for picnics and backyard barbecues. If you do not have orzo or do not like orzo, you can use any small, bite-sized pasta.
One of the key ingredients in this Italian pasta salad is mint, basil, and parsley. Make sure to use fresh herbs as they pack a punch of flavor.
The recipe calls for cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. Additional delicious options for veggies are kalamata olives, zucchini, summer squash, or mushrooms.
16. Classic Macaroni Salad
Make this Classic Macaroni Salad your own by substituting or adding your favorite vegetables. One of the great things about this recipe is that it is so simple, and you can easily make multiple batches.
Keep one batch traditional and make another one with your favorites. Add some chopped or shredded carrot for a little sweetness and a little crunch.
This recipe calls for celery, onion, and bell pepper. You can also use cucumber, pickles, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and more. Play around with this pasta salad and see what flavor combinations you prefer.
17. Crab Pasta Salad
This Crab Pasta Salad is one of the best cold pasta salad recipes. The recipe calls for Mayonnaise to make the dressing. You can also buy a premade dressing at the store that you prefer.
To make the pasta salad lighter, make a non-mayo version. This will be less creamy but just as delicious. Greek yoghurt is a good substitute for mayo. Just make sure not to add too much.
You can use real crab or imitation crab. If you are gluten-free, make sure to use real crab or an imitation crab made from fish.
17 Best Cold Pasta Salad Recipes
- 14 oz uncooked rotini pasta
- 2 cucumbers, chopped
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¾ c. pitted black olives, sliced
- 1 c. Italian-style salad dressing
- Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once the water is at a boil, add the pasta. Turn heat to medium, so water doesn’t boil over.
- While the pasta is cooking, begin preparing the other ingredients.
- Cook the pasta uncovered, occasionally stirring until the pasta is cooked. Read the directions on the pasta box for exact times. Cooked Pasta should be firm but not crunchy.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and run cold water over it to cool the pasta down.
6)Once the pasta is cool, pour in the Italian dressing and stir to combine.
- Mix the pasta and dressing with the Veggies in a large bowl.
- Cover the pasta salad with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the Pasta Salad until it is time to eat. *Two hours minimum is best to marinate the pasta salad in the dressing.
- Mexican Pasta Salad - Mix guacamole, favorite salsa, and ranch dressing to make salad dressing. Use Corn, peppers, red onion, tomato, black or pinto beans, and avocado chunks for veggies. Use Mexican cheese blend, cotija cheese, queso fresco, or other Mexican cheeses.
- French Pasta Salad - Use blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and walnuts.
- Italian Pasta Salad - Use Italian Dressing, pitted Kalamata Olives, pitted Castelvetrano green olives, pepperoncini peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, and red onion.