Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Main Dishes

Every home cook needs an easy Pasta Salad Recipe! This dish is so easy, goes with everything, and can be made with whatever is in your fridge!

It is a great way to create a meal out of leftovers and can be served as a side or a meal on its own!

close up of a bowl of Easy Pasta Salad

Why You’ll Love This Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Prep is quick, chop the veggies while the pasta cooks and stir it all together.
  • Use anything you have in the fridge, leftover meats or roasted veggies, rotisserie chicken; anything goes!
  • This simple pasta salad recipe goes from season to season using whatever is fresh and local.
  • Dressing can be any bottled dressing (from a vinaigrette to ranch) or a homemade favorite.
  • Make-ahead up to 4 hours and keeps well for lunches all week.

ingredients in bowls to make Easy Pasta Salad

What’s in Pasta Salad?

PASTA: Pick your pasta! A medium pasta works well for this recipe, try rotini, penne, or bowties.

VEGGIES: Go for a combination of colors and textures. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and green onions are favorites.

PROTEIN: Ham is a mild, slightly salty flavor that goes with any kind of dressing. Small cubes of salami and cheese work well, too.

FLAVOR BOOSTERS: You’ll want to add something with some bold flavor to the salad. Olives, pickles, bacon bits, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, bold cheeses, or a scoop of pesto or tapenade all work well.

DRESSING: Choose a tangy dressing. Italian or Greek dressings have lots of vinegary and herbal notes and really help blend everything together.

ingredients in a bowl to make Easy Pasta Salad with dressing on the side

How to Make Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a quick and filling meal.

  1. Cook & drain pasta.
  2. Chop remaining ingredients. Place in a bowl.
  3. Toss with the dressing.
  4. Chill up to 2 hours before serving. (Per recipe below)

adding dressing to bowl to make Easy Pasta Salad

What Goes with Pasta Salad?

Pasta salad recipes are great because they go with almost everything!

Pair it with BBQ Chicken Sliders, Hamburgers, or Grilled Chicken Thighs with Homemade Focaccia Bread or Garlic Bread!

top view of plated Easy Pasta Salad with spoons


Pasta salad tastes best when it’s cold so keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cooked pasta doesn’t freeze well, so it’s best to make a new batch each time, but it’s so easy anyway, and fresh is best!

Perfect Pasta Salads

  • Classic Macaroni Salad – with easy & creamy dressing
  • Easy Greek Pasta Salad – so fresh & colorful
  • Italian Pasta Salad – party favorite
  • Dill Pickle Pasta Salad – the original recipe!
  • Antipasto Pasta Salad – a great make-ahead dish
  • Mediterranean Pasta Salad – perfect for a crowd

Did you make this Pasta Salad Recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

close up of a bowl of Easy Pasta Salad

5 from 10 votes

Review Recipe

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Pasta Salad with fresh veggies, ham, and a tangy Italian dressing is perfect for a potluck or backyard BBQ!
Print Recipe


  • 1 pound medium pasta such as rotini, farfalle or penne
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese cubed
  • 1 cup chopped ham or salami
  • 1 english cucumber chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup black olives sliced, or to taste
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Italian dressing homemade or store-bought, or your favorite dressing
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
  • While pasta is cooking, prepare vegetables.
  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Notes

Any medium pasta can be used. Be sure to cook al dente (firm) as the dressing will soften the pasta further. Rinse under cold water once cooked to stop it from cooking.

You can use any vegetables in this recipe (including leftover cooked/roasted vegetables). Favorites include zucchini, peas, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

In this space, I am always sharing flavorful, fresh, (mostly) healthy recipes that I love to make and eat in my real, actual, every day life. If I wouldn’t eat it in real life, I won’t put in on the blog. You’re cooking for yourself, your family, your roommates, or your friends. I want you to be so excited about these recipes that you eagerly await 5pm when you can go home from work and start cooking.

Optional but delicious additions include bacon, sundried tomatoes, pesto, artichokes, or finely diced broccoli.

Dress the salad generously as the pasta will soak up the dressing.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1.5cup, Calories: 303, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 579mg, Potassium: 324mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 866IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 74mg, Iron: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Main Dishes

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