Italian Pasta Salad

4.60 from 5 votes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Italian Pasta Salad is filled with classic, bright, and fresh flavors that will have you coming back for more! Each ingredient brings a bold taste that will blend wonderfully with the other ingredients. I love to serve this dish every chance I get in the summertime, because it tastes amazing every time and is always a crowd favorite. 

two white bowls of Italian Pasta Salad Recipe with whole cherry tomatoes and golden spoons to the side.
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

This pasta salad is easy to make with only a few ingredients, but you can add more if you want to make this dish a bit more hearty and filling! The dressing is so simple yet rounds out the salad and brings everything together perfectly. If you bring this pasta salad to any sort of gathering, be prepared to share the recipe! 

Italian pasta salad pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes, making it a versatile side. It complements grilled chicken or BBQ ribs beautifully, adding a fresh, vibrant contrast to the smoky flavors. It also goes well with burgers, providing a refreshing balance to the hearty main. For a lighter option, serve pasta salad alongside baked salmon or grilled shrimp to enhance the meal’s flavor and texture.

Spoonful of Italian Pasta Salad Recipe over a clear mixing bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The ingredients have a fresh and bright flavor that pair well with the tangy dressing.
  • It is a nice, cool dish to eat on a hot summer day. 
  • You can modify it with your favorite ingredients and it can be served with any meal. 

Recipe Ingredients

portion bowls each with raw ingredients to make Italian Pasta Salad Recipe.
  • Pasta—Smaller pasta like macaroni works best.
  • Kalamata Olives—Halved.
  • Artichoke Hearts—Adds a soft texture and bright salty flavor. 
  • Tomatoes—Halved cherry tomatoes add a soft crunch and fresh flavor!
  • Red Onion—Thinly sliced or diced.
  • Basil—Fresh basil brings all of the flavors together. Dried basil can be used in a pinch.
  • Olive Oil—Serves as the base of your dressing.
  • Balsamic Vinegar—Gives your salad a slightly sweet and acidic flavor. 
  • Garlic Powder—To contrast the tangy vinegar.  
  • Salt and Pepper—Added according to taste

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad 

clear mixing bowl in the process of making Italian Pasta Salad.
clear mixing bowl in the process of making Italian Pasta Salad.

Step #1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Step #2. Add the pasta to a medium mixing bowl. Add the olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onion, and fresh herbs.

    clear mixing bowl in the process of making Italian Pasta Salad Dressing.
    clear mixing bowl in the process of making Italian Pasta Salad.

    Step #3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic powder, and some salt.

    Step #4. Add the dressing to the pasta. Stir everything until it is well coated. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

      Recipe FAQs

      What is the best pasta to use for this recipe?

      For this pasta salad, you will want to stay away from noodles that are large and tube-shaped such as rigatoni, because other ingredients will get stuck in the middle and it can overpower the salad. Try to use pasta that is smaller such as macaroni, farfalle, or rotini. These will give you the best results since the pasta will be balanced with the other ingredients! 

      Should I rinse the pasta after it’s cooked?

      When using pasta, you typically do not want to rinse it after you strain it because the heat will help it continue to cook and also allow the noodles to absorb your sauce more. Since we are using the pasta for a cold salad here, you will need to rinse the pasta with cold water! It will help bring the temperature down and keep the noodles firm as they are combined with the other ingredients and dressing. 

      Spoonful of Italian Pasta Salad Recipe over a clear mixing bowl.

      Best Italian Pasta Salad Add-ins

      The best part about making pasta salad in the summer is that the ingredients are all fresh and delicious, and you can easily modify it with other great ingredients! Here are our favorite ways to switch up this recipe and make it more hearty:

      • Beans—Roasted chickpeas, great northern beans, and kidney beans can add some extra texture to your pasta salad.
      • Meat—Add a little protein to your salad by adding some chopped salami, pepperoni, grilled chicken, or Italian sausage.
      • Cheese—The tang of mozzarella, feta, and parmesan can help add depth to your salad.

      How to Store Italian Pasta Salad

      Italian pasta salad is typically best when served within 3-4 days. You can keep leftovers in the fridge covered with tin foil or in an airtight container. Toss the salad before serving to make sure the flavors are evenly distributed! 

      Expert Tips

      • If you want to save a bit of time, you can use store-bought Italian dressing to add flavor to the pasta salad instead of making your own dressing.
      • You can use fresh parsley instead of basil, or try adding a combination of both for extra taste.  
      • Make sure to cook your pasta until al dente, and don’t mix it with the other ingredients until it is cooled to avoid mushy pasta.
      • If you are serving a crowd, this recipe can easily be doubled! But be sure to double the dressing as well.

      More Pasta Recipes To Consider

      two white bowls of Italian Pasta Salad Recipe with whole cherry tomatoes and golden spoons to the side.
      4.60 from 5 votes

      Italian Pasta Salad

      Italian pasta salad is a delightful dish that combines cooked pasta, colorful vegetables, savory meats, and a flavorful dressing for a tasty side dish.
      Prep: 15 minutes
      Cook: 15 minutes
      Resting Time: 1 hour
      Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
      Servings: 10


      • 12 oz Tri-Color Rotini pasta, 1 box
      • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
      • 1 cup hard salami, diced (Cut the salami into ¼ inch thick and each slice into cubes)
      • ½ cup red onions, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size
      • ½ cup fresh mozzarella, cubed (or Mozzarella pearls)
      • ½ cup sliced Kalamata Olives, or black olives

      Italian Vinaigrette/Dressing

      • 1 cup olive oil
      • ¼ cup lemon juice
      • 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
      • 2 teaspoons dry Parsley
      • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
      • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1 teaspoon honey
      • Salt and Pepper to taste
      Save This Recipe!
      Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!
      Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


      • Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Rinsing with cold water will help the pasta not stick together. Some prefer not to rinse the pasta once they are cooked, I would suggest adding a little bit of olive oil to avoid the pasta sticking together.
      • Once the pasta is cooked and drained, place them in a large mixing bowl. Let them cool completely.
      • Once the pasta is cooled, add the grape tomatoes, hard salami, onion, mozzarella, and olives. Mix so all ingredients are well blended. Set aside.
      • In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Parsley, Italian seasonings, garlic powder, and honey. Whisk so all ingredients are combined.
      • Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture. Using 2 serving spoons, toss to coat all ingredients of the pasta with the dressing.
      • Cool for at least 1 hour (we cooled it off for 2 hours in the fridge) to allow the dressing flavors to bind with the pasta.
      • Salt and Pepper to taste. Keep in mind the flavors will keep developing as the salad rests in the fridge. I would strongly suggest waiting at least 1 hour before adding any salt or pepper.
      • Serve and Enjoy!


      • We add the Kalamata olives for their stronger fruity flavor. Black olives can be used instead.
      • You can use any short pasta, I would suggest a Rigatoni, Penne, or Ziti. These kinds of pasta have more of a texture, and therefore the vinaigrette will stick to it easier.
      • Side dish: Serve this pasta alongside a sandwich, grilled chicken, steaks, baked BBQ chicken thighs, pizza, burgers,…
      • Keep in mind this salad is excellent to serve within 24 hours of making it, but be an excellent dish for lunch, at the park, or the beach.
      • Storage: Store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
      • Warning: DON’T overcook the pasta. It will be mushy and the texture would not be right. Remember the pasta will keep cooking a little after you drain the water and rinse it.
      • Make it spicy: Use spicy salami, chopped Jalapeno, or add some banana peppers.
      • Make it Deluxe: Add fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, thyme). Add some chopped fennel. use different types of salami. Sprinkle some Gorgonzola or Feta when serving.


      Serving: 1 of 10 servings, Calories: 404kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 407mg, Potassium: 186mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 192IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 1mg
      Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

      About Melissa

      You May Also Like:

      4.60 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

      Leave a comment

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

      Recipe Rating


      1. Michael Harris says:

        5 stars
        My wife hates olives what can I sub with

        1. Melissa says:

          More of anything you do like! I like pickled peppers or something that is salty like an olive.