My Italian Pasta Salad is potluck and picnic ready! Surprise your friends with a peppadew and pepperoncini juice dressing over a tangy penne salad.

Italian Pasta Salad, close up

Italian Pasta Salad can be adapted for so many different personalities and styles! This is one of the many reasons it makes such a great potluck and picnic dish. For example, you can make a paleo Italian pasta salad by subbing additional meats and veggies (think cucumbers, cauliflower, chicken, tuna…) for the penne! Keep reading for over a dozen more alternatives.

My recipe uses a bright tart blend of pepper juice, vinegar, oil, and seasoning for the hand mixed dressing, and more flavorful ingredients for the salad than you can say in one breath. Give it a try! PennepastaslicedblackolivessundriedtomatoesfreshmozzarellaGenoasalami … gasp! Maybe you have greater lung capacity than I do, but this one has me winded.

If you’re deep in the potluck circuit and trying to plan your pasta salad rotation ahead of time, consider giving my BBQ Pasta Salad, Tortellini Salad, Classic Macaroni Salad, or Hawaiian Macaroni Salad a try!

Italian Pasta Salad in a shallow serving bowl

How To Make Italian Pasta Salad:

My Italian Pasta Salad is made in five simple steps. First, mix up the dressing, cook the pasta, and toss the hot pasta in the dressing. Then, stir in everything but the basil, refrigerate for a bit, add the basil, and serve! It doesn’t get any easier than that!

My fabulous hand blended dressing is made using olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, seasoning, peppadew pepper juice, and pepperoncini juice. The classic pasta salad uses penne, black olives, fresh and sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cubed fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, salami (this is no vegetarian pasta salad! But it can easily become one – just omit this ingredient), two kinds of peppers, and julienned basil.

To Julienne basil, stack the washed leaves, roll them up in a little cylinder (length or widthwise will work), and then slice the roll from end to end in small strips with a sharp knife.

Chopped ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad on a large oval plate

What I Love Most About Pasta Salad Recipes:

One thing I love about Pasta Salad recipes, in addition to their refreshing tart and tangy flavor, is how many ways there are to alter and vary them according to individual preferences. For instance, the Italian pasta salad Food Network makes uses ingredients like mushrooms, broccoli, and cauliflower! And the allrecipes Italian pasta salad ups the aesthetic game using a tri color pasta salad with Italian dressing.

Storing Cold Pasta Salad:

Store this cold pasta salad before serving in a tightly covered salad bowl. Use a plate, plastic wrap, or beeswax wrap to form an airtight compartment. The salad keeps for 3 to 4 days!

Italian Pasta Salad in a shallow serving bowl, close up

More Delicious Pasta Salad Ideas:

In addition to the 11 awesome pasta salad ideas below, here are a couple more fun variations! My vegetarian friends can make Italian pasta salad no meat by omitting the salami. You salty meat lovers out there can make your Italian pasta salad with pepperoni in addition to salami!

Tuna Pasta Salad:

Tuna pasta salad is a brain-friendly twist on Italian pasta salad!

Tuna Pasta Salad in a bowl

Chicken Pasta Salad:

Try Chicken Pasta Salad for another appetizing high protein variation.

Greek Pasta Salad:

With Greek pasta salad you can count on a healthy dose of feta and cucumber!

Shrimp Pasta Salad:

Shrimp pasta salad is a great choice for you seafood and crustacean lovers out there.  

Pesto Pasta Salad:

You can’t go wrong with Pesto Pasta Salad – so, so tasty. You’ll be the belle of the ballpark.

Caesar Pasta Salad:

Caesar pasta salad offers a richer, creamier take on this classic dish!

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad:

Delicious dill pickle pasta salad features cheddar cheese, dill dressing, and, naturally, pickles!

BLT Pasta Salad:

BLT pasta salad is like a scrummy sandwich in a bowl! Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado are the stars.

Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing:

If you are a pasta salad purist, then pasta salad with Italian dressing is the variation for you!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad:

Second to last but not second to least, enjoy a taste of Monaco with Mediterranean pasta salad.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad:

Bacon ranch pasta salad? Now we’re really talking! Save this one for a rainy day.

Best Time To Serve Pasta Salad:

The best time to serve pasta salad is whenever you darn well please! Traditionally pasta salad is a summertime dish, but I’ve never had anyone turn down a homemade meal because some dusty etiquette book told them to!

Italian Pasta Salad in a shallow serving bowl

Recipe Notes For Making The Best Pasta Salad:

Hot pasta: For the best pasta salad, make sure to toss the pasta and dressing while the pasta is still hot! Hot pasta absorbs flavor more readily.  

Can you make this ahead of time? You can make this recipe up to 4 days in advance! Just cover carefully and save the basil till you are ready to serve.

Pepperoncini: Pepperoncini are very mild little green peppers that look a lot like banana peppers!

Peppadews: Peppadew peppers are actually pickled Juanitas! Juanitas are little red cherry sized peppers that come in both mild and spicy varieties. They were discovered by a guy in South Africa in the 90’s! Can you imagine discovering a new type of food in your backyard?

In case you have extra peppadews, here are a couple more recipes that use them:

Draining the juice from a jar of peppadew peppers

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe:

I hope you love this Italian Pasta Salad recipe as much as we do! It is so deceptively simple to put together, especially given all the chic and stylish ingredients.

Italian Pasta Salad in a shallow serving bowl, top shot


Italian Pasta Salad, close up
5 from 2 votes

Italian Pasta Salad

My Italian Pasta Salad is potluck and picnic ready! Surprise your friends with a peppadew and pepperoncini juice dressing over a tangy penne salad.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 508 kcal
Author Kathleen



  • 2/3 Cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Cup Peppadew Pepper Juice, (From The Jar Of Peppadews)
  • 1/4 Cup Pepperoncini Juice (From The Jar Of Pepperoncinis)
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar


  • 1 (16 Ounce) Box Penne Pasta
  • 8 Ounces Genoa Salami, Sliced into 1/4 Inch Strips
  • 1 Cup Black Olives, Sliced
  • 10 Ounces Grape Tomatoes, Cut In Half
  • 1 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienned
  • 1 Cup Peppadew Peppers, Sliced
  • 1 Cup Pepperoncini, Sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, Chopped
  • 2 (8 Ounces) Container Fresh Mozzarella Ball in Water, Drained and Cut Into 1/2 Inch Cubes
  • 1 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Romano Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil Julienned


  1. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add all the dressing ingredients together and shake well.

  2. Place a large pot of water and 1 1/2 Tablespoon of salt over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and cook according to package instructions, to al dente. Drain the pasta well.

  3. Add the pasta, while still hot, to a large salad bowl. Pour dressing over pasta and toss well. Allow pasta to cool.

  4. When pasta has cooled to room temperature, stir in the next 8 ingredients (everything but the basil) and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

  5. When ready to serve, add fresh basil and toss. Adjust seasoning and add olive oil, if needed. Serve

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Nutritional Information

Nutrition information will vary based on the specific products. To be safe, check the nutrition facts labels of your products. Optional object listed above have been left out of nutritional data.

Nutrition Facts
Italian Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 /12 of the recipe)
Calories 508 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 46%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 1259mg 52%
Potassium 524mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 39g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 5g
Protein 20g 40%
Vitamin A 12.1%
Vitamin C 29.4%
Calcium 18.3%
Iron 9.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Best To Serve With:

  • Italian Dressing Chicken – Move over chicken parm, our Italian Dressing Chicken packs in Italian flavors & takes 5 minutes to assemble! Add pasta & veggies for a quick midweek meal!
  • Chicken Milanese – Thin cutlets of chicken, breaded and cooked until crispy golden brown make Chicken Milanese a simple to make family favorite!
  • Chicken Gyro – My Chicken Gyro with tender chicken breast and lemony tzatziki sauce will open your eyes to the ease and simplicity of classic Greek cuisine!

More Salad Recipes…

  • Antipasto Salad – What’s red and white and delizioso all over? This antipasto salad! Feast your eyes on my olive, salami, mozzarella, basil, tomato, and pepperoncini combo.
  • Pasta Salad – This classic tri-colored spiral Pasta Salad is full of veggies, cheese, meat, and tons of flavor. The tangy vinaigrette coats every piece to perfection!