The Best Pasta Salad for a Party

This fresh, traditional pasta salad recipe is The Best Pasta Salad for a Party! It’ll have all your guests coming back for seconds!

Image of The Best Pasta Salad for a Party

The Best Pasta Salad for a Party

If you’re looking for more fresh sides for a party you should also check out Creamy 6 Cup Ambrosia Fruit SaladDeli-Style Broccoli Salad,  and Classic Macaroni Salad because they all taste fresh and have fruits and vegetables for making a complete and delicious party or barbecue.

We are big fans of the Fancy Nancy books at our house. Fancy Nancy is a little girl who loves new adventures and using extra fancy words in her books. In a few of the books Fancy Nancy and her family eat “al fresco, which is fancy for outdoors.” Somewhere along the way, my kids picked up the term “al fresco” and now it’s part of their normal vocabulary. On many warm afternoons they ask if we can eat dinner al fresco and on more nights than not I indulge. I love eating outside as much as I love hearing my son say “al fresco” in his little three-year-old voice.

We have a ratty little patch of concrete on the side of the house that is cracked and growing grass, but you know what, we love it! It’s shaded in the evening, and in Southern Utah, there are very few bugs to ruin a meal. It’s a great place to gather for a meal. The kids are always more motivated to help set the table when we eat outside and the mess is cut in half because the birds clean up the spilled food at the end of the evening instead of me. When we build our forever home we are for sure going to plan on some great outdoor dining and entertaining areas.

If you are a fellow al fresco eater then this pasta salad recipe is just perfect for an evening meal on the back porch. It’s light but filling, comes together in a flash, and highlights some of summer’s gifts – garden veggies and fresh herbs. This could be the main dish or a nice side to pork chops or grilled chicken. Add some fresh sweet cherries or watermelon to the meal and a rhubarb crisp for dessert, and you have yourself a real feast.

This also a great pasta salad for a party, gathering, or barbecue. There are tips for traveling and prepping ahead at the end of the recipe.

Image of The Best Pasta Salad on a Plate

How Long Does Pasta Salad Last?

Pasta salad can last up to 5 days in the fridge if you store it in an airtight container.

What Other Noodles Can I Use?

Noodles that are short and have lots of folds or holes work well because they pick up the sauce and are easy to eat. Rotini, farfalle, penne, and fusilli are great noodle choices for a pasta salad.

How Can I Keep Pasta Salad from Getting Soggy?

If you plan to serve your pasta salad at a party and have to transport it there, you don’t want it to get soggy before everyone starts eating! I keep my noodles at the right texture by making my sauce and keeping it in a jar until it is time to serve, then you can add the sauce to the salad and mix it together without giving the noodles time to turn too soft.

Image of The Best Pasta Salad for a Party

The Best Pasta Salad for a Party

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


This fresh, traditional pasta salad recipe is The Best Pasta Salad for a Party! It’ll have all your guests coming back for seconds!



  • 1 pound garden Rotini pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 can black olive
  • 1 can ripe green olives (not the salty brined kind…Lindsey’s brand is great)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 pound Cabot Garlic and Herb Cheese or mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 23 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Lots of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Combine the pasta, olives, tomato, cucumber, and cheese in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a small mason jar add the basil, olive oil, vinegar, and a heavy hand of salt and pepper. Put a lid on the jar and shake well to combine. Pour the mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste (don’t under salt, the pasta and veggies really need it to taste their best). Serve at room temperature right away.
  2. To make ahead, mix together the pasta through cheese and make the dressing in the mason jar, but keep pasta and dressing separate until you are ready to serve. Mix together just before serving.
  3. Store extras in the fridge in an air-tight container.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Large Bowl
  • Cuisine: American
Nutrition Information: YIELD: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 575.6 Fat: 31.7g Cholesterol: 36.9mg Sodium: 779mg Carbohydrates: 52.8g Sugars: 4.7g Protein: 21.6g Vitamin A: 165.6µg Vitamin C: 3.6mg

Keywords: best pasta salad recipe, best pasta salad, easy pasta salad, easy pasta salad recipe, homemade pasta salad, how to make pasta salad, healthy side dish

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This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated in August 2019.


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avalon marsh

Yum! Love me some pasta salad.

Kate @Framed Cooks

We publish the Fancy Nancy books at my company, so I was doubly glad to see your post – not only a great recipe, but you are Fancy Nancy readers! Happy al fresco dining! 🙂

this is one of my all time favorites for parties, or pretty much any day

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.