Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold pasta salad dishes! Fresh and colorful vegetables, cheese, salami, and Italian vinaigrette are tossed with your favorite pasta to create an unforgettable dish for just about any summer occasion.

Pasta salads are one of my go-to potluck dishes from easy and fresh Greek Pasta Salad to a delicious Caesar Pasta Salad and of course my famous Dill Pickle Pasta Salad! Not only does everyone love them, but pasta salads are super easy to make and they’re even better when made ahead of time!

Italian Pasta Salad in a glass bowl

Potluck Perfect Pasta Salad

Whenever summer rolls around, we always seem to be headed to barbecues, potlucks, and patio parties. Of course, I’m always asked to bring a big pitcher of Classic Mojitos (it’s the drink I’m known for) but I almost always bring a cold pasta salad recipe along too! This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a really fun twist on a classic pasta salad because it’s loaded with so many goodies. It travels well and goes with pretty much anything.

Big Bold Flavors

This easy pasta salad recipe is loaded with flavor, you can add in your own favorite Italian inspired ingredients; diced artichokes and sundried tomatoes also make great additions!
Ingredients for pasta salad:

  • Bold Flavors: cheese, salami, olives, and Italian seasonings add a big punch of flavor
  • Crunch: Bell pepper adds great  for color, crunch, and flavor
  • Veggies: I love the juicy tang tomatoes add, throw in some cucumbers or any veggies you have on hand

Italian Pasta Salad in a white bowl

Noodles for Pasta Salad

Tri-color rotini does an amazing job at holding the cheese and Italian dressing in the crevices for max flavor, but you can use shells, or whatever medium noodles you happen to have handy!

Cook the pasta al dente so it isn’t mushy and it holds up well to the dressing.

Tips to Make the Perfect Italian Pasta Salad

  • Cut your veggies small: Cutting your vegetables into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite!
  • Don’t overcook your noodles: Overcooking will make a mushy pasta salad as the acids from the dressing will break down the starches farther. Shock your noodles once they are cooked al dente in cold water for best results!
  • Cool your pasta before adding the toppings: You don’t want to begin to cook your vegetables while you toss everything together!
  • Let your pasta salad sit before you serve it: This gives the dressing a chance to really permeate your veggies and pasta, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious Italian pasta salad!
  • Keep it colorful: If you are adding some extra veggies you have on hand, keep your pasta salad fun and colorful! I love adding things like artichokes, shredded carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, etc.

Italian Pasta Salad with spoons in a clear bowl

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing

To make this recipe quick and easy, I use a bottled Italian dressing but of course, homemade Italian Dressing is amazing if you have the ingredients on hand.

Make ahead… The best thing about this pasta salad recipe is that it gets better as it sits and the flavors blend! It’s the perfect make ahead side dish, it takes 20 only about minutes to prepare. What could be better than that?

As this Italian pasta salad sits in the fridge, the acids in the dressing actually work to help break down the starches in the pasta and the proteins in the veggies, resulting in a more flavorful and tender pasta salad (so be sure not to overcook your noodles)!

Make Homemade Italian Dressing combine the following:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or use half olive oil, half vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or your favorite)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes

Italian Pasta Salad with spoons in a clear bowl
5 from 454 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Italian Pasta Salad

Tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, salami, and mozzarella cheese are tossed in an Italian dressing for the perfect make-ahead side dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
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  • 16 ounces tricolor rotini
  • 8 ounces salami chopped
  • 1 cup Italian vinaigrette dressing store-bought or homemade
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese cubed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ orange bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • cup red onion diced
  • cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.



Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Give leftovers a good stir and add more dressing if necessary to refresh flavors. 
5 from 454 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 325 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 818mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg

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

Repin this Super Summer Salad!

Italian Pasta Salad in a clear glass bowl with a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks amazing I’ve been searching for a recipe that would be easy and delicious will be trying over the weekend .

  2. Best pasta salad ever ! Only change I made was using pepperoni instead of salami since I had it. Sooooo good! Thanks Holly5 stars

  3. Made this for the 1st time tonight, turned out Excellent!! Used good seasons Italian dressing with 50% of the packet and more vinegar than oil to reduce the sodium levels. Also added artichoke hearts as well… thank you!5 stars

  4. fabulous…made a small one for the 2 of us,then a big bowl to feed 50 for a shower.lots of compliments…..5 stars

  5. My nother made this and brought it to me after a medical procedure. It was so perfect! I have made it vegetarian for myself, and sort of go with the veggies on hand. I will have it in my fridge all summer long with local produce. Thanks for a winning recipe5 stars

  6. Best Italian pasta salad I have ever made. Took to a party and everyone liked it and wanted the recipe. Only modification I made was using less noddles. 12 oz of tricolor noodles. Made full amount of dressing and w as exactly right! Will be my go to pasta salad recipes.5 stars

  7. I added artichoke hearts, olives and more Italian seasoning (like, doubled or tripled) but otherwise followed directions exactly. It was GREAT! Everyone LOVED it. I loved the Italian Dressing recipe, too – I didn’t use a fancy oil or vinegar, just my normal supply. It was fantastic. Chef’s kiss for the yummy side dish!5 stars

    1. I would suggest keeping the dressing on the side and tossing the day of serving. The pasta can soak up too much dressing.

  8. I am preparing to make this again. I thought the last batch needed more non pasta aand then I realized that my Barilla tricolor rotini is in 12 oz, boxes not 16. I have bacon and pepperonie in the fridge. I 2illl use them instead of salami and whole peppers.

  9. I am disabled but I have a helper. She has made salads for me but never a pasta salad. This is my opportunity to help her learn some things. I only have one opportunity to shop so I must do some planning.. if not mozzarella, maybe feta. I will definitely add a shredded carrot. A half cucumber is probable but do it French style and remove the seeds.

    1. That sounds delicious, Ed! I hope you love it. The nice thing about pasta salad is they are very forgiving when it comes to the ingredients you add. Have fun cooking!

  10. I made this pasta salad and doubled the recipe for our party. I followed the recipe exactly as it’s printed except I substituted the green pepper for cucumbers instead. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again. Yummy5 stars