Caprese Pasta Salad is a bright, tangy summer salad that is perfect to take to a potluck or picnic.

Fresh juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and tender pasta are tossed in a simple dressing and topped with fresh basil.

This Caprese pasta salad is a great meatless meal or top it with grilled chicken breasts or shrimp.

close up of Caprese Pasta Salad in a bowl

A Summer Favorite Salad

  • This pasta salad has all of the flavors of our favorite Caprese salad turned into a meal.
  • It’s light and fresh while still making for a hearty meal or side dish.
  • This dish is best made ahead of time making it potluck perfect.

Ingredients for Caprese Pasta Salad

  • Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are flavorful and hold up well but any ripe fresh tomatoes will be great in this recipe. Sundried tomatoes (oil packed is best) add a bit of tang and lots of flavor.
  • Mozzarella – Bocconcini, fresh mozzarella cheese, or mozzarella balls are a great addition to this caprese pasta salad recipe. It’s a soft and mild cheese (and available at almost any store).

    We cut them in half but you can find the smaller mozzarella pearls, no cutting is required. If you don’t have bocconcini, cut your favorite mozzarella into cubes.
  • Basil – Fresh basil really adds the best flavor to this pasta salad.
  • Pasta – Any medium or short pasta shape works, choose one with crevices, curves, or tubes so it can hold the dressing! Try penne, rotini pasta, or even elbow macaroni.
ingredients in a bowl to make Caprese Pasta Salad

The Perfect Addition!

Fresh basil makes the salad!

Instead of buying a little bunch or packet of basil at the grocery, check if they sell basil plants. They cost a tiny bit more but will last a long time!

Fresh basil is the perfect addition to pastas, salads and of course bruschetta!

How to Make Caprese Pasta Salad

This recipe is easy Caprese!

  1. Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water. Drain well and rinse under cold water (to stop it from cooking).
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and add tomatoes to the dressing. Let marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature for maximum flavor!
  3. Combine the pasta with the remaining ingredients and toss with the dressing.

Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and cracked black pepper before serving.

Fresh basil leaves are best added just before serving!

Caprese Salad Dressing

A simple combo of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar is the base of the dressing.

Dressing Options:

  • Use the simple dressing in the recipe below but add a bit of oil from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes for a boost of flavor!
  • Use balsamic vinaigrette or a bit of homemade Italian dressing in place of the red wine dressing in the recipe.
  • If adding balsamic vinegar use just a splash, it’s more powerful than red wine vinegar and can overpower.
  • Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice or a spoonful of basil pesto.
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze before serving if you’d like.
bowl of Caprese Pasta Salad

Make Ahead & Storage

Caprese Pasta Salad can be made in advance but is best served within a day so the cut tomates are fresh. Toss well and add more dressing if needed.

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge 2-3 days.

Pass the Pasta Salad!

close up of bowl of Caprese Pasta Salad
4.98 from 41 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad is a bright, tangy summer salad filled with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound rotini cooked & cooled
  • 3 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese cubed
  • ½ cup red onion diced
  • cup sun dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup basil chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • salt & pepper

Instructions 

  • Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add tomatoes to the dressing mix and allow to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Combine pasta, mozzarella, red onion and sun dried tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with tomato/dressing mixture and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Chop fresh basil. Drizzle salad with balsamic glaze and sprinkle basil on top just before serving.

Notes

  • Dress generously as the pasta will soak up the dressing. 
  • Add a bit of oil from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes for a boost of flavor!
  • Use balsamic vinaigrette or a bit of homemade Italian dressing in place of the red wine dressing in the recipe.
  • If adding balsamic vinegar use just a splash, it’s more powerful than red wine vinegar and can overpower.
  • Try adding a spoonful of basil pesto.
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze before serving if you’d like.
4.98 from 41 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 386 | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 480IU | Vitamin C: 7.2mg | Calcium: 226mg | Iron: 1.3mg

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

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

    1. You can buy balsamic glaze or make it! To make it combine 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Cool completely before using.

  1. I have made this salad with Boconcelli (sp) balls, quartered. It is also delicious Love your recipees.5 stars

  2. Very easy to make. Makes lots. Used all the dressing. Letting the salad sit in the fridge for two hours certainly enhanced the flavours. Drizzled balsamic glaze and that was a delicious touch. I love your recipes.5 stars

    1. Balsamic glaze is thicker and sweeter than balsamic vinegar. It’s balsamic vinegar that has been reduced.

  3. Hi! This looks so delicious and I’d like to make it for a dinner this weekend. Does it taste better if you refrigerate overnight, or right after everything goes together?

    1. Hi Breann, we recommend refrigerating for at least 2 hours to let the flavors really meld and soak in. You can prepare it the night before as well to save time with equally delicious results.

  4. I’m going to make this salad for a party where I’m expecting approximately 45 people. I will have other side dishes but I was wondering if this recipe is easily doubled or tripled? Thank you!

  5. Don’t ever rinse pasta. You are washing away the starches which actually help the sauces or dressings stick to it.

    1. The pasta is rinsed under cold water specifically to stop the cooking process for this recipe since it is a cold salad.

  6. Super simple and refreshing! Tomatoes aren’t quite in season yet here so I ended up using supermarket grape tomatoes and it was still delicious. When I can get some from the farmstand in a month or so I know it will be even better! I often find pasta salads too vinegar-y but this ratio is perfect. Tastes like summer! :-)5 stars

  7. I added grilled chicken and served this warm and it was seriously delicious! My kids gobbled it right up! I love the balsamic drizzle at the end right before serving! We used fresh garden tomatoes, fresh garden basil and man this dish is one of my favorites!5 stars

  8. I also add whole black olives and fresh basil leaves along with a small amount of of Italian seasoning. The seasoning is added to the salad,not the dressing.4 stars