A simple search for pasta salad recipes will yield thousands of results. The title may be appealing, and the pictures may look beautiful, but do they deliver on the promises in their content? Sometimes – sometimes not. The problem is that you don’t know what you’re gonna’ get until you actually make the recipe.
Well, I’m here to help! No more wasted ingredients, no more surprises, and no more underperforming pasta recipes. Here’s a list of the 20 best pasta salad recipes for any occasion and they don’t disappoint!
C’mon and check them out. See which ones appeal to you….
Best 20 Pasta Salad Recipes
Cold pasta salad recipes are a myriad of textures and flavors that define deliciousness. Some are hearty enough to be a meal while others complement the main dish. They can be fillers, or they can steal the show like a shining star! All you need is the right recipe. So, without further ado….
Here are my Best Pasta Salad Recipes:
1. Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is one of those cold pasta salad recipes that can be ready in 30 minutes flat! Tri-colored pasta, crisp summer veggies and a zesty homemade vinaigrette dressing make this pasta salad recipe too good for words! Its simple, tasty and just plain incredible!
This is one of those go-to pasta salad recipes in a pinch and it lives up to expectations.
2. Antipasto Salad
Antipasto salad is one of my favorite pasta salad recipes because it so darn delicious and versatile! There are plenty of greens, beautiful veggies, savory cheese and salami to balance it out.
A wholesome homemade vinaigrette ties it all together, so it tastes as great as the picture looks. Use it as a side or make it a meal!
3. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This party pleasing vacation in a bowl makes Mediterranean pasta salad one of those magical pasta salad recipes that hits the spot every time. Decadent beauty never tasted so great and this one is ready in half an hour flat.
When you’re ready for elegant veggies and cheesy goodness, this salad is nothing short of sweet delight!
4. Tuna Pasta Salad
Ahh, tuna pasta salad has been the good ‘ole standby for generations. We drug tuna salad recipes into the 21st century with a few simple updates that boast irresistible. Relive your wonder years and reminisce about pasta salad recipes that came straight from grandma’s kitchen.
This one is always a crowd-pleaser and it’s just so darn simple it’s crazy.
5. Chicken Pasta Salad
Live, love and eat chicken pasta salad! This is one of those pasta salad recipes that people on the potluck circuit look forward to every time. Those little farfalle pasta bowties and scrumptious veggies are a jovial delight. This little playful beauty is vibrant, herbalicious and wholesome with goodies like asparagus and sundried tomatoes that are oh so yummy.
Put this one in the rotation – you’ll kick yourself it you don’t!
6. Greek Pasta Salad
Greek pasta salad is one of those decadent pasta salad recipes that let’s you bask in deliciousness in under 30 minutes flat! Need I say more? The prodigy of yumminess is a gentle combination of textures and flavors that literally get together and have a party in your mouth!
The homemade oil and vinegar dressing that blends this pasta salad together mimics a traditional Horiatiki that’ll transport you straight across the ocean.
7. Italian Pasta Salad
Savoring this vivacious and jovial Italian pasta salad is like little flavor bombs going off in your mouth. Fresh aromatic herbs blend the meaty cheesy goodness that just welcomes the penne pasta and begs for Italian dressing. These little gems bask in a wholesome wonder of homemade Italian dressing with a few secret ingredients that really put it over the top.
Trust me – you’re gonna’ want seconds!
8. Shrimp Pasta Salad
Creamy pasta salad recipes that let me smell the salty air and see the magic of the horizon are definitely at the top of my list and shrimp pasta salad is no exception. Talk about a crowd pleaser! I can barely get out the door with this one! The cool creamy dressing and tangy flavors are simply unparalleled on the pasta salad circuit.
Only 20 minutes to savory shrimp stardom and success never tasted so good!
9. Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto pasta salad is like perfection on a plate! This versatile recipe is fragrant and full-bodied and wonderful. All the flavors and textures practically dance down to your tummy and fill you with a warm glow from the inside out. This another one of those awesome pasta salad recipes that’s ready in under 30 minutes.
A blend of savory cheeses, pine nuts, and crisp veggies all vie for the valuable real estate on the farfalle pasta for a myriad of textures and flavors in every beautiful bite!
10. Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
Dill pickle pasta salad is one of those simple pleasures that’s really easy to throw together. This one-bowl wonder lets you know that the salad gods have smiled down upon you. A few tricks of the trade and some secret ingredients make this little gem one of the most delightful pasta salad recipes in my arsenal.
It’s surprisingly delicious and ridiculously easy to make. You’re gonna’ love it!
11. Taco Pasta Salad
Now here’s a new twist on an old classic! Taco pasta salad is more than just taco meat and pasta. Its got a savory blend of fragrant herbs, plenty of yummy spices and a myriad of textures that make your taste buds stand up and pay attention. Plus, the cool creamy dressing makes this one of those pasta salad recipes that is something truly special.
This little shining star is just a metropolis of flavors that leave you begging for more!
12. Tortellini Salad
Tortellini salad is potluck and picnic ready! Its that perfect tag along for any meal because tortellini always steals the show! This versatile recipe is easy to throw together and it’s totally customizable. Plus, there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to fill with that incredible dressing.
Two thumbs way, way UP!!
13. Caesar Pasta Salad
This iconic Caesar pasta salad blends savory meats and cheeses with penne pasta and a quintessential Caesar dressing to create an almost perfect pasta salad! It’s elegant and beautiful but above all it’s absolutely de-LISH! Dress up any meal with the yumminess and proverbial beauty of this awesome pasta salad.
14. Southern Macaroni Salad
Put a little South in your mouth with Southern macaroni salad. Forget everything you thought you knew about pasta salad recipes. This robust combination of elbow pasta and crisp summer veggies blended by a slightly sweet and tangy dressing totally redefines what macaroni salad is all about!
The refreshingly addictive flavor profile keeps people eating well after they’re full because its just that good!
15. Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Mahalo! Hawaiian Macaroni Salad has achieved near perfection in its simplicity. This is more than just pasta salad with mayo. Every wonderful bite is a scoop of creamy deliciousness that is totally irresistible!
A few simple ingredients blended in the right proportions yield a slightly sweet and tangy concoction that is welcome on any table.
16. Classic Macaroni Salad
Almost everyone loves a classic macaroni salad! Little elbow macaroni and that cool creamy dressing seasoned to perfection remind us why this iconic dish has been passed down through the ages. Plenty of crunchy little veggies add texture and flavor to one of the most respected pasta salad recipes of all time.
This is the one that started it all!
17. Chicken Macaroni Salad
As if it weren’t already near perfection, adding a little flavorful foul gives you chicken macaroni salad. This versatile dish fills tummies and warms hearts all at once. It’s like a little bit of sunshine in every bite.
As one of the most filling and economical pasta salad recipes, this tasty little classic is a welcome alternative to the fish of the sea. It packs a protein punch and a full-bodied flavor that’s hard to beat!
18. Macaroni Salad With Egg
Making macaroni salad with egg is nothing new but it will draw a crowd! The creamy blend of tasty renaissance reminds us what it means to be American and allows us to enjoy the simple pleasures that come along with it. It’s easy, protein-packed and the pairs perfectly with any backyard barbecue.
Usher in the warm weather months with this refreshing blend of yummy that pairs perfectly with any get together.
19. Tuna Macaroni Salad
Tuna macaroni salad comes in a variety of cohesive flavors that nobody can deny. Even kids love it! You know what I mean because the name says it all. This one of the best pasta salad recipes. Its chalked full of protein and wholesome ingredients that only get better with that cold creamy dressing.
Have it as a meal or in addition to any main course. Another scoop?
20. Best Macaroni Salad
From the creamy sauce to the crunchy peppers and luscious cheese, this best macaroni salad lives up to its name! It’s the perfect side dish! Creamy, tart, tangy, savory, crunchy, smooth — is it any wonder that pasta salad is such a beloved summery side dish?
It pleases not only every taste bud but every picnic guest. And with a few easy tweaks, you can adjust it for any palate!
21. Frog Eye Salad
Frog Eye Salad is a sweet fluffy rendition of a fruity dessert salad with pasta (Acini di pepe), cool whip, instant pudding and plenty of extras to make you go Mmmm!
22. Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing
This pasta salad with Italian dressing recipe uses vibrant colors with nutritious meats and veggies to produce bold tangy flavors that are irresistible.
23. BBQ Pasta Salad
Our Easy Creamy, Smoky BBQ Pasta Salad makes the perfect side dish for any summer BBQ, Cookout, Potluck, or Picnic! Goes with everything and tastes Amazing!
Recipe Variations and Notes
Tweaking these pasta salad recipes couldn’t be simpler. Adjust them for convenience, flavor or nutrition according to your dietary goals and preferences. Try using rotisserie chicken or fresh tuna fish for a subtle flavor change that’ll brighten up the serving bowl.
A simple trick to enhance almost all pasta salad recipes is to salt your pasta water! I find that 1-2 tablespoons per four quarts of water work best. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. The pasta absorbs some of the water it cooks in so salting your pasta water essentially seasons your pasta from the inside out giving you a more flavorful dish from the get-go!
How Can I Turn These Recipes Into Vegetarian Pasta Salad?
Turning these pasta salad recipes into vegetarian dishes is as simple as replacing the meat items. Use anything from mushrooms to fresh broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus. Choose the tastiest superfoods and add beans for protein. Black beans have a mild flavor and add a beautiful pop of color to pasta salad recipes.
How Can I Convert Pasta Salad For A Crowd Of 50?
Making pasta salad for a large crowd isn’t as intimidating as it seems. I typically plan for about half a cup per person, so a crowd of 50 people should require about 25 cups of cold pasta salad. This is usually sufficient especially when there are other items to fill the plate.
Most of these pasta salad recipes can easily be cut in half or doubled making it simple to come up with just the right amount of fantastic fair!
Pasta Salad Recipes
- 16 ounces elbow pasta
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook pasta until just al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain again briefly, so the pasta remains somewhat moist; transfer to a large bowl.
- Stir in bell pepper, celery, green onions, red onion, cilantro, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Let sit a few minutes for flavors to absorb.
- Stir in hot sauce, mayo and BBQ sauce. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Enjoy!
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Sam S. says
I love this, I think I’m gonna make the hawaiian macaroni salad, chicken pasta salad, and dill pickle pasta salad this Memorial day 🙂
You’re amazing, Sam! Enjoy Memorial Day!!