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!

Looking for more pasta salad recipes? Try our Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad, or Tuna Pasta Salad.

Cold Italian pasta salad with rotini noodles, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, and salami in a clear glass bowl.

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.

Homemade Italian pasta salad dressing being poured over a bowl full of cooked rotini pasta.

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.

The ingredients for Italian pasta salad, in a bowl, including cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese, onions and salami.

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.

Recipe Variations:

  • 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:

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Recipe

Cold Italian pasta salad with rotini noodles, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, and salami in a clear glass bowl.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 15 mins
Refrigerate 1 hr
Total 1 hr 25 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
 
 

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: Italian Pasta Salad can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Meat/Protein: add cooked chopped ham or chicken, for additional protein.
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.

Nutrition

Calories: 664kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 23gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 1544mgPotassium: 368mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 550IUVitamin C: 9.7mgCalcium: 251mgIron: 1.9mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

*I first shared this recipe in May 2016. Updated August 2018 and June 2021.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. Hi Lauren, We are going to our grandson first birthday party .And needed a recipe for dressing to put on pasta salad.
    Your looked perfect!
    Thank you .
    Karen from La Quinta

  2. Hi Lauren,
    I’m Italian and just love all of these Pasta Salad’s you have posted. I always have a great Italian Salad Dressing cold and on hand in the Fridge ready to go and love the way you use the colorful cherry tomatoes, but my local SuperMarket
    doesn’t always have the yellow ones on hand. Nonetheless, I improvise with yellow bell peppers. Thanks for all the good recipes which I just discovered on your webpage from Taste Better.

  3. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It’s so simple and yummy and my family loves it. I love that it lasts in the fridge for several days and can be made ahead of time for a party. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    This may honestly be my favorite pasta salad I’ve ever made. It tuned out sooooooo good! The homemade dressing makes all the difference. May family loved it, so I thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    This is truly the BEST pasta salad ever. The store did not have regular rotini pasta, so I used the tricolor rotini. It turned out very colorful and was delicious. I’m happy if there is ever any left so I can enjoy it for a couple more days. This is my go to pasta salad for potlucks and home gatherings. Love it, love it, love it. …Trish

    1. 5 stars
      You got that right, it’s the best, love this pasta salads, and this one it great, added Green Bell pepper, red onion and green onion a little bit.

  6. Lauren, this recipe was simple, and delicious. I got so many compliments from family and friends. Thanks once again for this amazing recipe.

  7. 5 stars
    So delicious!! The dressing really makes a difference. I added some green and red bell peppers and it really added to the taste. Everyone in my family was fan and we will be printing this recipe off and adding it to our cookbooks. Not only does it look good, it also tastes good too.

  8. 5 stars
    This pasta salad was absolutely delicious!! I’m soo glad I added the Pepperoni!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    Lauren we love this salad! I recently made it with feta cheese, kalamata olives, red yellow and orange bell peppers, along with fresh herbs from my garden. Also was a big hit! Thank you 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    THE SALAD AND THE DRESSING ARE DELICIOUS. A TIP I LEARNED MANY YEARS AGO, NEVER RINCE THE PASTA !!!! THE STARCH THAT YOU ARE RINSING OFF IT WAS ADHERES THE DRESSING TO THE SALAD.