12 Easy Pasta Salad Ideas
No matter what flavor profile you’re in the mood for, we’ll show you how to make pasta salad the right way every single time.
Packed with fresh veggies, creamy cheese and zesty dressing, a summer meal just isn’t complete without a heavy helping of pasta salad. No matter what flavor profile you’re in the mood for, we’ll show you how to make pasta salad the right way every single time.
Before you start, get some more tips for making pasta salad.
The Basic Recipe
For every pasta salad you make, you’ll want to work with these basic proportions; 1 pound (or 4 cups) of uncooked pasta + 1-3 cups dressing + 1-2 pounds mix-ins + 1 cup of flavor-boost ingredients. That way, you won’t be left with an overdressed or underpasta-ed dish.
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Toss tender cheese tortellini with red wine vinaigrette, chopped red and green bell peppers, broccoli and sliced prosciutto for an Italian-inspired dish. Top with slices of pimiento-stuffed olives for a salty addition.
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Take a page out of grandma’s recipe book by mixing 1 cup of mayonnaise with about 3 tablespoons of milk or water, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Use the mixture to dress small pasta shells, peas, imitation crab or tuna and a bit of fresh dill.
Check out more recipes grandma knew by heart.
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This classic combo starts off by making a dressing with 2 cups mayonnaise and 1 cup of cider vinegar. Then, toss the dressing with macaroni, diced ham, peas, shredded cheddar and a sprinkle of green onion. Can’t get enough? Try these other grocery store deli copycat recipes.
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Put together a pasta salad everyone will love by combining farfalle pasta, balsamic vinaigrette, fresh baby spinach, yellow peppers and chopped dried apricots for a touch of sweetness. Here are some more recipes to serve at a luncheon.
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Turn the classic appetizer into a pasta salad. It starts off with roti pasta, diced ham, sliced salami and pepperoni, artichokes, bell pepper, provolone, mozzarella, fresh basil and scoop or two of hot giardiniera. If the giardiniera is too spicy for your tastes, go with chopped sun-dried tomatoes instead.
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Mix orecchiette, smoked turkey or chicken, diced apples, celery, walnuts and strawberries with a dressing made with 1 cup of mayo, 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard for a fun take on the lunchtime classic. By the way, here’s how to make a healthy chicken salad.
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Ranch lovers, this one’s for you! Toss tricolor rotini, diced cucumber, tomatoes and broccoli with your favorite ranch dressing and bacon bits. If you’re out of dressing, learn how to make your own ranch.
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Speaking of salads, stir together caesar salad dressing, small shell pasta, shredded romaine, shredded parmesan and halved cherry tomatoes for a pasta that’s just like a caesar salad. Add a few seasoned croutons if you want some extra crunch. Check out these other recipes that put caesar dressing to work.
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Crunchy Asian Chicken
Who doesn’t love this sweet and savory flavor combo? Achieve it by mixing farfalle pasta with orange miso salad dressing, cubed breaded or grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, carrot shreds, sliced almonds and crispy chow mein noodles. Sprinkle in some crushed ramen noodles or sliced grapes to take this pasta salad to the next level.
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This southwest-inspired pasta salad starts with rotini, Catalina salad dressing, diced tomatoes, bell peppers and red onion. The addition of taco-seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar, sliced black olive and crushed tortilla chips complete the taco transformation. These taco recipes are so good, you’ll want to eat them all week long.
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Start off by mixing about a cup of plain greek yogurt with a tablespoon of lemon. Toss the yogurt with orzo or pearl couscous, halved grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, turkey or chicken, crumbled feta and lots of fresh parsley. With one bite, you’ll feel like you’re in the Med! Here’s why we love the Mediterranean diet.
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Classic Pasta Salad
Why mess with a great thing? A classic pasta salad combines rotini, Italian salad dressing, diced bell pepper, cucumber, sliced cherry tomatoes, olives and shredded parmesan cheese. Load your plate up with some grilled chicken or a sandwich and you have the perfect summer lunch. Round out your meal with a tall glass of homemade lemonade.