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 450 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 450 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 is the best pasta salad I have ever made or eaten. The homemade Italian dressing is easy to make and takes this pasta salad to new heights. Holly, this is a fantastic recipe. Thank you!5 stars

  2. I make another pasta salad with rave reviews. Will be switching to this. After reading the reviews with modifications people made, I will modify a bit and make it for an upcoming brunch. Might add Kalamata olives on the side instead of black olives.

    You are 1 of my 2 favorite places for recipes. Thank you!

  3. This is seriously my favorite pasta salad recipe! The only thing I changed is pressing a large clove of garlic into the dressing for an extra zing. And if I am feeling spicy adding a 1/2 cup of peperocinis!5 stars

  4. this has been my go-to for a while! not sure if i have commented before. but after making it so many times already, i think ive got it downpat, and want to add in my 2 cents as to what made it especially good to my own liking:

    – i dont like olives really, so i omitted those
    – if youre a cheese lover, it will not hurt to add both extra parm and mozz!!!
    – i first mixed the dressing and italian seasoning together, then added the pasta, which kept the pasta plenty moist while i prepped the rest of the salad. then stirred in each added element one by one, for the most part, as i readied them.
    – keep extra dressing on hand for individual servings, especially as it sits and gets a bit dry.
    – next time, im going to try adding banana peppers for a little kick!
    – you arent kidding about chopping everything pretty small. makes it look and taste way better! and easier to eat!
    – AMPLE salt and pepper seem to be crucial to bringing out the flavors!
    – this is such a beautiful salad. i am willing to try other pasta salads, but this has a permanent spot in my personal collection. thanks so much for providing a truly perfect recipe!!! my husband and i have really enjoyed it- soon i will have to bring it to a gathering of some sort!5 stars

    1. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks Alison! I am so happy to hear you loved this recipe!

  5. Great pasta salad
    I’d leave out the Salami next time. Everyone loved it tho. thanks5 stars

  6. I made this as part of the meal for a group of shelter residents along with fruit and cucumber salad. I added extra salami but otherwise followed the recipe. It was well received and many took extra helpings. Thanks!

  7. I make this every summer for the bbq’s I add a little touch of honey and hot peppers on the side is people want to add them, so good!

    1. It will slightly change the flavor, but will still be delicious Lauren. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

  8. I used to make this all the time until I started the Keto diet. I just made it keto friendly by swapping el dente cauliflower for the pasta. I also used Krafts Greek vinegrette, which is low carb and delicious! I added the dressing to the chopped cauliflower while it was still warm to help it soak in more flavor. And for less chopping, I ĵust cut up string cheese sticks. So good!5 stars

  9. I made this recipe a few years ago for a friend’s birthday party. everyone loved it. now I make it often. I made it today.5 stars

  10. OMG! Just made this and my daughter used to work at Pasta and company and she says this tastes better then theirs!

    1. I prefer to make my own but if choosing store bought, your favorite Italian dressing will work just fine!

      Here is my quick and easy recipe:
      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

  11. I have made this recipe for years with a few minor tweaks. We like olives so I doubled the amount, too much salami so reduced that and substituted more red/yellow/orange peppers for green peppers. My daughter asked for this salad when she recuperated from childbirth because she could eat it any time especially during midnight feedings and it was the perfect snack with pasta, meat and veggies.5 stars

  12. Hello, would you please write down the ingredient for the seasoning? I am going to prepare homemade one. Is it ok to make dijon vinigreatte?5 stars

  13. Made this for the first time and brought it to camp and it was delicious! I even made your noted Italian dressing recipe with all ingredients I had in my kitchen – so much better than store bought dressing! This recipe will be going in my book. Thank you!5 stars

  14. Made this tonight and it was excellent. It took me awhile to chop all the ingredients but it was worth it. Excellent 5 stars

    1. Any type of salami is great in this recipe! I usually check if any are on sale at the deli and use that.

    1. Sorry for the delay Mary, either fresh mozzarella or pizza mozzarella work well in this recipe. I prefer fresh mozzarella if possible.