Easy Pasta Salad Recipes You'll Be Making All Summer Long
Pasta salad provides endless possibilities for new flavor combinations and ingredients. Easy pasta salads take the guesswork out of mealtime. Pasta salads are great for brunch, ladies luncheons, or light summer suppers. Add protein, such as chopped deli chicken, boiled shrimp, or sliced grilled steak, to turn a quick pasta salad into a main-dish meal. Use your leftovers. Combine various unused pasta shapes with colorful veggies and herbs for an appealing and fresh salad. Whether it is simply too hot to fire up the oven, or you need a quick and easy supper for a busy weeknight, one-pot pasta salads are hearty enough to satisfy the entire family. Perfect for a picnic or potluck, pasta salads are easy to assemble and easy to transport. You are sure to find a favorite in this selection of our favorite flavor-filled pasta salad recipes.
Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas
If you're looking for new ways to serve fresh summer peas this season, try this bright pasta salad. A homemade lemon vinaigrette adds a punch of flavor to this refreshing side dish. It's also the perfect reason to use some of the fresh herbs from your garden. We used basil, chives, dill, and parsley in our version, but you can adapt to whatever you have on hand.
Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad
Recipe: Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad
Next time you're looking for a side dish to take along to a summer cookout or potluck, turn to this flavor-packed recipe. Bacon and ranch are a match made in heaven, so we're always looking for ways to combine the two flavors in one dish. If you have time, make this crowd-pleasing recipe the day before you plan to serve it because it will taste better after it has some time to sit in the fridge.
Tangy Chickpea Pasta Salad
Recipe: Tangy Chickpea Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is anything but ordinary, so if you're looking to switch it up from your normal summer side dish, this recipe is what you're looking for. The recipe simply calls for 8 ounces of pasta, so you can use whatever kind you may already have in your pantry. Chickpeas, feta cheese, roasted eggplant, and chopped Peppadew peppers may not be the first ingredients you think of reaching for when making pasta salad, but they give this side dish plenty of Mediterranean flair.
Three-Bean Pasta Salad Recipe
Recipe: Three-Bean Pasta Salad Recipe
This recipe can best be described as a cross between pasta salad and three-bean salad. Blanched celery and fresh green beans give this side dish the unexpected flavor it needs as well as a pop of color. It comes together in just 30 minutes so if you need a quick and easy yet filling dish, this pasta salad is just the ticket.
Pintos and Peppers Pasta Salad
Recipe: Pintos and Peppers Pasta Salad
The addition of pinto beans, peppers, and corn transforms this pasta salad into a flavor-packed Tex-Mex dish. Charring the peppers and corn before adding them to the dish will add an extra layer of smoky flavor. A homemade vinaigrette that's made with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and honey serves as a light, fresh way to dress this pasta mixture. It'll become your new go-to side for summer taco night.
Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Toasted pecans mixed with grapes and onions will add just the right amount of nuttiness to this salad. When you add in the bacon, it creates a smoky-flavored sensation. The crunch of the pecans and the bacon are the sound of the perfect dish, but the broccoli will also contribute to this delight—fresh and finely chopped, this vegetable brings a light flavor and a beautiful texture to the dish.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Recipe: Tuna Pasta Salad
Adding tuna as a protein source to this pasta salad will allow it to shine as a main dish instead of being just another side. We recommend choosing an oil-packed tuna for better texture and more flavor. While both tuna salad and pasta salad can often being heavy if they're loaded with mayonnaise, a lemon-herb vinaigrette keeps this version light and bright for summer.
Dilly Bean Pasta Salad
Recipe: Dilly Bean Pasta Salad
Making this pasta salad is as easy as mixing all of your fresh ingredients together and tossing them in the easy homemade vinaigrette dressing. Toasted almonds add a nice crunch while chopped dill adds fresh flavor. Even though you can choose to serve this pasta salad at room temperature, we think it's most refreshing when served chilled.
Penne with Green Beans and Tomatoes
Grape tomatoes shine in this penne pasta salad. For best results, this fresh dish should be chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before serving. So if you're bringing it along to a potluck, making it a day ahead of time is the best option.
Mix 'n' Match Spring Pasta Toss
Recipe: Mix 'n' Match Spring Pasta Toss
Consider this recipe more of a guide than an exact science. You can use a mix of whatever shapes of pasta you have in your pantry and it's a great way to use up the rest of some half-full packages. After you've made your pasta selection, you can then swap out and adjust the vegetables to make the most of what you have on hand. Bottled greek dressing and lemon juice create a flavorful coating that is the perfect finishing touch for your custom vegetable and pasta toss.
Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Recipe: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Grabbing some fresh vegetables from the farmers' market means that making this dish becomes a seasonal delight. Think of the flavors of baby heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, corn, and peaches. This is a true Southern-market take on traditional pasta. As with any pasta, be sure to cook the pasta al dente (1 or 2 minutes shorter than package directions specify) so it holds its shape when tossed with the vegetables and vinaigrette. Tossing it with the Parmesan Vinaigrette means that every bite has a little tangy tartness and a touch of salt.
Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
This summer pasta salad is so filling it is almost hard to think of it as a salad. It has all the meat from a deli-roasted whole chicken tossed in, as well as farfalle, sliced zucchini and squash, and the sweetness of coarsely chopped nectarines. Together, these tastes are fresh and light, but incredibly delicious. Tossed with Lime Vinaigrette, which is zesty with just the right hit of vinegary acids, you get just that little extra hint of tartness, which makes this salad all the more seasonal. Our colorful pasta salad is so satisfying it qualifies as dinner.
Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Farfalle and fresh veggies make a delicious summer side. For this salad, an assortment of the beautiful colors of bell peppers, as well as field peas, combine well with the pasta. Cook the pasta so it is just firm, or "al dente," and it will go well with the crunch of the fresh vegetables. Mix the dressing up to three days in advance; then toss when ready to serve. We like using mini farfalle in this recipe so that all of the ingredients are about the same size, but swap in any pasta shape you like.
Sweet Pea-and-Mint Pasta Toss
Recipe: Sweet Pea-and-Mint Pasta Toss
During the hot summer months, we want our recipes to be easy to prepare, full of flavor, and impressive enough to share with guests. This recipe meets the criteria. Even though this pasta toss looks impressive, it only requires five ingredients and 10 minutes of hands-on time to prepare.
Watermelon-and-Feta Orzo Salad
Recipe: Watermelon-and-Feta Orzo Salad
Watermelon and feta are a classic summer pairing. Adding orzo pasta and a light lemon-shallot vinaigrette upgrades the duo to a flavor-packed salad that you'll want to make again and again.
Recipe: Tortellini-and-Tomato Salad
Adding fresh baby heirloom tomatoes is a great way to brighten a cheese-filled tortellini pasta salad. This rich and creamy dish gets tossed with green onions and herbs. A homemade vinaigrette brings in distinctive flavors including freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce while the crunch of fresh corn kernels and the crisp spice of sliced green onions flavor the pasta. Top this with freshly chopped basil for some extra seasonal flavor.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Tortellini Salad
Serve appetizer portions of this easy pasta salad on small tapas plates. The Parmesan cheese-and-Worcestershire sauce-based dressing tossed over the salad creates the perfect pairing of salty and spicy without being overwhelming. This is a rich dish thanks to the cheese-filled tortellini, but the sweet peas and sliced green onions keep it light. This makes a great quick-fix weeknight supper, or for a summer evening with guests, consider serving it as a main meal and pairing with a wonderful white wine.
Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Recipe: Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Lemon and shallots marry for a bright taste that's ideal for a ladies' lunch or light supper. If you can't find haricots verts, you can easily use regular green beans instead. Also, penne pasta is a great substitute for casarecce if you already have it on hand. Once you're ready to go in the kitchen, we love how quickly this recipe comes together—it goes from countertop to table in just 30 minutes. You'll love the bright citrusy flavor paired with the perfect amount of crunch from the green beans. Add in the slightly salty flavor of grated Parmesan cheese and the sweetness of Champagne vinegar and you have a winner.
Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing
Who knew throwing some avocado wedges and fiery buttermilk dressing on a pasta salad could make such a flavor impact? Crushed garlic gloves, ground red pepper, chili powder, and black pepper all bring the heat, so when this dressing says it is spicy you know it is not kidding. Low-fat buttermilk, light sour cream, and canola mayo keep this dressing light, but heavy on the flavor. In fact, it tastes so good you may want to double the recipe. It's the perfect solution for a last-minute party or potluck since you probably have a lot of these ingredients right there in your pantry.
Green Bean, Grape, and Pasta Toss
Cooking the pasta al dente will mean that it is still firm enough to keep its shape and texture when tossed and dressed. Pasta, grapes, and onions, paired with toasted pecans, create a delectable mix of sweet and slightly nutty flavors. Stir in the bacon and you have all the subtle smokiness this salad needs. Green beans, bacon, and pecans are all crunchy delights in this salad, while the pasta holds its own when paired with the tangy yet sweet—and just slightly salty—red wine vinegar-based dressing.
Tangy Tzatziki Pasta Salad
Recipe: Tangy Tzatziki Pasta Salad
This Greek-style pasta salad includes kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes, creating a rich combination of flavors. The feta cheese tops it off with a little creaminess and saltiness. You can even make a hearty meal out of your favorite barbecue side dish by adding in these delicious Greek ingredients and some shredded or chopped chicken.
Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad
Recipe: Summer Tortellini Salad
For this salad, mix and match the ingredients according to what you already have on hand. For a rich, filling dish, begin with some cheese-filled tortellini pasta. Then toss in some salty green and black olives, some onions, and beautiful bell peppers. Herbes de Provence anchor the tangy vinegar-based dressing that lightly coats all of the ingredients, so you will love the variety of flavors.
Recipe: Shrimp-and-Pasta Salad
The delicate flavor of peeled, cooked shrimp works well in a variety of summertime salads. This recipe, which is light and lemony, easily doubles for dinner with friends. What makes this salad special is the sweet tastes of citrus from the thin wedges of nectarine, as well as the bold pops of flavor and color from the juicy raspberries. Cooked-to-perfection shell pasta creates a firm bite for the foundation of the salad, then cool cucumber chunks add to a colorful composition. A little spicy arugula creates great flavors with every bite.
Roasted Red Pepper-Caesar Tortelloni
If you like Caesar salad, you’ll love this Caesar-and-pasta twist. Lemon juice, lemon rind, and Dijon mustard enhance bottled Caesar dressing to make a warm, creamy sauce for tortelloni and roasted red bell pepper strips. Tortelloni, in case you were wondering, are similar pasta to tortellini, just larger. Should you prefer tortellini, or are unable to find tortelloni at your local supermarket, you can just substitute it. Top this with Caesar-style croutons for a little extra crunch—the croutons will also absorb some of that delicious dressing.
Confetti Pasta Salad
Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad
Feta cheese, grape tomatoes, and red onion give this pasta salad recipe Greek flair, and the star ingredient—dill—adds a punch of flavor to the combination. The key is chopping all the vegetables so you get the salad's full flavors in every bite. The vinaigrette brings the hit of fresh lemon juice, the hint of spice from pressed garlic, and the heat of Dijon mustard to this Greek-inspired dish. Even though this salad is delicious immediately after it comes together, we recommend chilling it for a few hours in the refrigerator to enhance all the flavors.
Mustard-Dill Tortellini Salad Skewers
Refrigerated cheese tortellini is the secret ingredient that gets this recipe quickly off the starting blocks. White wine vinegar, two cloves of fresh garlic, fresh dill, and Dijon mustard, all come together in a sweet-and-tart vinaigrette. Drizzle it over the tortellini and the snap peas for the perfect amount of seasoning—it will give every mouthful just a little bite.
Thai Noodle Salad
Recipe: Thai Noodle Salad
Fresh jalapeño peppers and cilantro give this Asian pasta salad a kick of heat while mild cucumber, peanuts, and honey balance these bold flavors. Finely shredded cabbage adds just a little subtle crispness to this noodle bowl, while the mint brings in an unexpected fresh sensation. You should be able to find fish sauce in the ethnic food section of your supermarket or at specialty Asian food stores, or you can substitute soy sauce if you prefer.
Bacon Bow Tie Pasta
Recipe: Bacon Bow Tie Pasta
Would you like a recipe for a homemade white sauce that can be ready in 10 minutes? Yes, please. The half-pound of crisp, crunchy bacon is a taste bud tantalizer as well. Pair the two with warm pasta and you have the perfect weeknight dinner. Round out the meal with a mixed green salad and lightly toasted Italian bread. If you want all of the flavor, but less of the fat, you can lighten up the entrée by using reduced fat turkey bacon, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, and 2% reduced-fat milk. However you prepare this Bacon Bow Tie Pasta, the result is the same: delectable.
Recipe: Peanut-Noodle Salad
Inspired by the classic Thai dish pad thai, this easy noodle salad incorporates a variety of vegetables and flavors but leaves plenty of room for add-ons and creativity. Cucumbers, carrots, onions, and soba noodles form the foundation for whatever you want to put together. For a main dish meal, try adding precooked shredded chicken or slices of beef. What's even better is how many ways this dish can come to the table: You can serve it hot, cold, or at room temperature. So prepare it early for a picnic or potluck; have it ready to go when guests come over; or bring it hot to the table ready to be devoured. The choice is yours.
Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Recipe: Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
This salad includes just about everything but the kitchen sink, but if you feel that there are any vegetables or herbs that would enhance the recipe's fantastic flavor, feel free to add. Artichoke hearts cut into strips, roasted red peppers, smoked mozzarella chunks, and chopped green chiles create a great mix of flavors while pine nuts add a finishing crunch. The rotini pasta is perfect for holding the dressing, but you can just as easily substitute the pasta of your choice if desired.
Fresh Pesto Pasta Salad
Recipe: Fresh Pesto Pasta Salad
This Italian-inspired salad uses basic ingredients and is easy to prepare. Rather than combining all the pesto ingredients in a food processor, you simply bring them together in the bowl. For more depth, you can add in a few tablespoons of store-bought pesto to bring out the flavors of the fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Otherwise, this light salad is the perfect summer dish. Garnish it with mixed baby greens, and grape tomatoes or small, pear-shaped tomatoes. Then enjoy the Italian flavors of this quick-fix salad.