The BEST Italian Pasta Salad recipe is easy to make, loaded with all the good stuff, and tossed in zesty homemade dressing. It will be the star of your potluck!

Looking for more pasta salad recipes? Try our Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad, or Tuna Pasta Salad.

A glass serving bowl filled with the best Italian Pasta Salad recipe.

What I love about this recipe:

  • The Dressing – The simple homemade Italian Pasta Salad dressing is quick to make with pantry ingredients and really sets this pasta salad apart from the rest.
  • EVERYONE loves it! Talk about a crowd pleaser; all ages love this zesty Italian Pasta Salad!
  • Make Ahead and Travel Friendly makes this perfect for any potluck or picnic. It’s a great easy meal to bring camping, boating, or to a beach day. During the school year I make a big batch to use for kids school lunch ideas during the week.

How to make Pasta Salad:

Make Dressing: Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, onion, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, and pepper.

Cook Pasta according to package instructions. Drain water and rinse pasta in cold water. Allow to cool, then pour half of the salad dressing and toss to combine.

Add Ingredients: Add mozzarella cheese pearls, salami, black olives, red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, parmesan, pepperoncini (optional), and additional dressing, to taste. Refrigerate pasta salad with Italian dressing for 1 hour or longer, before serving.

Two images showing homemade Italian Pasta Salad dressing being poured on top of cooked rotini noodles, then cheese, chopped red onion, tomatoes, olives, salami, and pepperoncini poured on top.

Make Ahead Instructions:

To Make Ahead: This cold Italian Pasta Salad can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, making it perfect for meal prep.

Recipe Variations:

  • Add Meat/Protein: Add cooked chopped ham or chicken.
  • Veggie Substitutions: Add chopped bell pepper, shredded carrot, or cooked sautéed veggies, like zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, or any other veggies you like.
  • Meatless Italian Pasta Salad: Leave the meat out and add extra vegetables.
  • Swap the Noodles: Use farfalle, penne, or any favorite bite-size pasta.
  • Gluten Free: Use your favorite gluten free bite size pasta noodles. We have had great luck with the Barilla rotini pasta.
A close-up image of easy Italian Pasta Salad, ready to serve.

More Pasta Salad Recipes:

Follow me for more great recipes

Recipe

Homemade Italian Pasta Salad in a large glass bowl, ready to serve.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Refrigerate 1 hour
Total 1 hour 25 minutes
Save Recipe

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound rotini pasta , uncooked
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (or chopped into pieces if you can’t find pearls)
  • 8 ounces salami , pepperoni, or beef summer sausage
  • 6 ounces black olives , sliced
  • 1/2 red onion , diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • pepperoncinis , sliced (optional)

For the Italian Salad Dressing (or substitute about 1 ½ cups bottled zesty italian dressing):

Instructions
 

  • Make the salad dressing by combining all ingredients. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Shake before using.

For the Pasta Salad:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain water and rinse pasta with cold water. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes. 
  • Add pasta to a large bowl and pour half of the salad dressing over it. Toss to combine. Add remaining ingredients and dressing and toss everything to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, before serving. Store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: Italian Pasta Salad can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Variations:
    • Add Meat/Protein: Add cooked chopped ham or chicken.
    • Add Veggies like chopped cucumber, bell pepper, shredded carrot, or cooked sautéed veggies, like zucchini, asparagus, broccoli.
    • Meatless Italian Pasta Salad: Leave the meat out and add extra vegetables.
    • Swap the Noodles: Use farfalle, penne, or any favorite bite-size pasta.
    • Gluten Free: Use your favorite gluten free bite size pasta noodles. We have had great luck with the Barilla rotini pasta.

Nutrition

Calories: 664kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 23gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 1559mgPotassium: 384mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 557IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 243mgIron: 2mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Follow Me

Get recipe ideas weekly!

*I first shared this recipe in May 2016. Updated August 2018, June 2021 and May 2023.

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Made this yesterday and it was SO GOOD! The dressing is good enough to eat on its own with crusty bread and my mouth is watering typing this. I used salami and added red bell pepper but next time I’ll use green or yellow for the color. It was perfect and I’ll definitely make this again!

  2. 2 stars
    The red wine vinegar overpowers everything. I even cut the amount in half. Try another recipe.

  3. 4 stars
    I made this pasta salad two days before a family cookout at my house yesterday. Everyone loved it! It was yummy and we’re enjoying the leftovers today! Will make again!

  4. Hi Lauren! I plan on making this delicious looking pasta salad for a party next Saturday but I will have to double the recipe! If there are any leftovers, can I freeze some of this? Thanks!
    Karen

  5. 5 stars
    This is delicious and easy to make. And of course very adaptable. I’ll be taking it to a potluck luncheon tomorrow but I’m holding back a few scoops for our dinner at home tonight. Shhh. Don’t tell

  6. This turned out great. I used fresh basil because I gave some growing. Steamed some broccoli, carrots and English peas and added too. Huge hit tonight at the lawn concert/wine group. The raspberry/peach sangria went great with it!

  7. Adding this to our meal plan this week because we have extra salami that needs to be used! There’s no button to save it though, to add it to my collections!

    1. It’s a great one!! I’m seeing the button from my account- can you double-check that you are signed in? Let me know if you still don’t see it and I’ll get our IT people to look into it. You can also add the recipe straight from your recipe box by clicking “Add item” and typing in the name of the recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    THE SALAD AND THE DRESSING ARE DELICIOUS. A TIP I LEARNED MANY YEARS AGO, NEVER RINCE THE PASTA !!!! THE STARCH THAT YOU ARE RINSING OFF IT WAS ADHERES THE DRESSING TO THE SALAD.

See More Comments