Italian Pasta Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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
4.99 from 218 votes
Review Recipe

Italian Pasta Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, salami, and mozzarella cheese are tossed in an Italian dressing for the perfect make-ahead side dish.


  • 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

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest


  • 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.

Recipe Notes

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. 

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.)

Keyword Best Italian Pasta Salad recipe, How to make Italian Pasta Salad, Italian Pasta Salad, Italian Pasta Salad recipe
Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian

Repin this Super Summer Salad!

Italian Pasta Salad in a clear glass bowl with a title
About the author


pinterest facebook twitter instagram

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!

More Posts by Holly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. This salad is SOOO GOOD!!!!! – it is addicting lol!! I added a little bit of radishes & cucumber & used zesty italian dressing – so good u don’t even have to wait for it to marinate! Thank you!5 stars

  2. I made this the day ahead of getting some painting done in my kitchen. Wanted something I could pull out that did not require cooking. It is absolutely delicious! This will be my thing to bring at the next church pot luck. I used Olive Garden Signature Italian dressing, and I also used 1/2 cup of the Olive Garden Parmesan Ranch, as I love a slight creaminess to a pasta salad. I love anything I can make ahead, and this is a true winner. Thanks for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  3. Thank you for this recipe! In about 15 years, I have not been able to find that perfect Italian pasta salad but this is it. I followed some other commenters and use the olive garden’s Italian dressing. And I use the balls of mozzarella. Thanks again.5 stars

    1. I guess it’s a me problem because it’s the same with everything I cook but it took me 4 hours to prepare! BEFORE putting in fridge for 2 hours! It was worth it though 5 stars