The BEST Italian Pasta Salad is easy to make, loaded with all the good stuff, and tossed in zesty homemade dressing. It will be the star of your potluck!
What I love about this recipe:
- Homemade Italian dressing is quick to make with simple pantry ingredients and really sets this pasta salad apart from the rest!
- EVERYONE loves it! Talk about a crowd pleaser; all ages love this pasta salad!
- Make ahead and travel friendly makes it perfect for any potluck!
How to make Pasta Salad:
Make dressing: combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, onion, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain water and rinse pasta in cold water. Allow to cool, then pour half of the salad dressing and toss to combine.
Add remaining ingredients: mozzarella cheese pearls, salami, black olives, red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, parmesan, pepperoncini (optional), and additional dressing, to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, before serving.
Make Ahead Instructions:
To Make Ahead: Italian Pasta Salad can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Add Meat/Protein: add cooked chopped ham or chicken.
- Veggie substitutions: Add chopped bell pepper, shredded carrot, or cooked sautéed veggies, like zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, or any other veggies you like.
- Meatless Italian Pasta Salad: Leave the meat out and add extra vegetables!
- Swap the noodles: use bowtie, penne, or any favorite bite-size noodles.
More Pasta Salads:
Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 pound rotini pasta , uncooked
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese pearls (or chopped into pieces if you can’t find pearls)
- 8 ounces salami chopped, or substitute summer sausage)
- 6 ounces black olives , sliced
- 1/2 red onion , diced
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes , halved
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- pepperoncinis , sliced (optional)
For the Italian Salad Dressing (or substitute about 1 ½ cups bottled zesty italian dressing):
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Make the salad dressing by combining all ingredients. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Shake before using.
For the pasta salad:
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain water and rinse pasta with cold water. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Add pasta to a large bowl and pour half of the salad dressing over it. Toss to combine. Add remaining ingredients and dressing and toss everything to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, before serving. Store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
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*I first shared this recipe in May 2016. Updated August 2018 and June 2021.