This easy Italian Pasta Salad is loaded with salami, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, olives, herbs, and pepperoncini- right along with classic rotini pasta. Paired with a dreamy, homemade Italian dressing to enrobe all that pasta goodness.

Italian pasta salad on pink platter with gold serving spoon on the side

Pasta salad is a summer must, yes?! Well, it’s a favorite for me no matter the season but I digress. Tender yet firm pasta with fresh veggies and other bites of goodness; with a zippy dressing to encompass it all, yum. I find it hard to believe that someone doesn’t like pasta salad, ha! Like, the actual blasphemy.

My favorite recipe for pasta salad is this ridiculously easy Italian pasta salad, plain and simple. So fresh, so good. It’s the perfect side to have at all your summery shindigs, a quick bop to make for parties, and all that’s in between.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad 🙌🏾

Yes indeed, you’ll love this pasta salad recipe, friends. It’s bursting with freshness in every bite and so wildly easy to make. While this is a recipe, one thing I like about pasta salad is how customizable it is, too. Yes, yes, and yes.

More deliciousness: peach sweet tea, this bacon burger, my fave southern potato salad, these baked beans; and Italian-inspired goods like short rib ragu, crispy parmesan crusted chicken, and these chicken piccata meatballs

italian pasta salad dressing in small mason jar

Here’s Why You’ll Love This Pasta Salad

  • IT’S GIVING EASY BREEZY: That’s right, chop all the veg and accompaniments, prep the dressing, boil your pasta, mix everything together- badda bing, badda boom. She’s beauty, she’s grace, and she’s so damn easy!
  • IT’S GIVING FLAVOR OVERLOAD: We don’t do bland/unseasoned tings over this way, nah. This Italian pasta salad is heavily abundant with big, bold flavor. Every bite is coated with lip-smacking scrumptiousness.
  • IT’S GIVING ENDLESS CUSTOMIZATIONS: I want you to see this pasta salad recipe as a guide that you can follow 100% or swap for whatever your tastebuds desire. That’s one of the things I love about pasta salad is that there are no hard or fast rules. Add or replace your fave proteins, cheese, whatever.
  • IT’S GIVING MEAL PREP/MAKE-AHEAD VIBES: Don’t we all like a recipe that can be prepped ahead for us to have on hand for parties, events, etc? Well, this Italian pasta salad recipe is just that. Prep it, chill it in the fridge, and serve it up over the course of a few days. Yuhhh, the best!
ingredients for Italian pasta salad laid out on wooden surface

Ingredients & What You’ll Need

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Pasta: The main star of the show- I love using *rotini* pasta because it is classic and often most used in traditional Italian pasta salad recipes (tri-colored rotini is fun, too!). However, please feel free to use what you have on hand: best pasta shapes include penne, fusilli, bowtie, and cavatappi pasta.
  • Salami or summer sausage: Meaty, salty, hearty goodness! Salami or summer sausage has great, robust flavor. If you’re looking for an alternative you can sub for pepperoni, chorizo, ham, chicken, steak, shrimp, etc. Just be sure that the meat you’re using is either cured or cooked beforehand.
  • Tomatoes: Bright and juicy grape/cherry tomatoes are a must!
  • Olives: I usually go for castelvetrano olives, they have a delicious salty bite with a buttery texture. I’ve also used kalamata olives as well- use your fave.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Go for mini fresh mozzarella pearls, they’re perfect here.
  • Red onion: Adds more flavor, texture, and a bit of a crunch.
  • Pepperoncini: Adds a nice light heat and contrast in flavor.
  • For the Italian dressing: Olive oil, red wine vinegar, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, fresh parsley, garlic, salt/pepper, Italian seasoning, sugar, and lemon juice. A perfect homemade dressing to cover everything.
ingredients for Italian pasta salad in large glass bowl

Pasta Salad Recipe Customizations

  1. Add/swap vegetables: Other veggies to add in or swap in this recipe include sliced bell peppers, carrots, artichokes, blanched green beans, fresh spinach, and sautéed/roasted vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, and more.
  2. A note on cheese: I love fresh mozzarella here. However, you can also use feta, provolone, fontina, sharp cheddar cheese, and others you prefer!
  3. Meat-free Italian pasta salad: If you want to make this recipe vegan or more plant/veg-forward, omit the meat and use vegan mozzarella cheese. And within the dressing, use vegan parmesan and mayonnaise.

The Italian dressing seals the deal and brings everything together so beautifully. This dressing is cheesy, creamy, well-seasoned, and so flavorful. It’s just too good, y’all. After mixing everything together, pop it into the fridge for everything to mingle together. The flavors deepen even further and truly sing!

Italian pasta salad mixed together in glass bowl with wooden utensils on the side

How To Make This Recipe (Easy as 1, 2, 3!)

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Prep the accompaniments– Chop up the meat into bite-sized pieces, slice the tomatoes, olives, and onion. That way when the pasta is done cooking, you can simply toss all the goods with it in a large bowl.
  2. Make the Italian dressing– Combine all the dressing ingredients into a jar and shake, shake, shake. Or use a food processor to whirl it all up. Then set it aside and get ready to drizzle it over the pasta salad!
  3. Cook the pasta– Boil your pasta according to the package directions, usually *al dente* for a nice soft but firm texture (no overcooked mushy pasta, plz). Then drain and run the pasta under cool water.
  4. Assemble the Italian pasta salad– Toss the drained pasta into a large bowl along with the salami, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella cheese, onion, and pepperoncini. Then drizzle in the dressing and toss the pasta salad to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt to taste.
  5. Let the pasta salad chill before serving– I know at this stage it’s tempting to want to devour straight away but hold on. Cover the pasta salad with a lid/plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge to sit for at least an hour. All the flavors get to know each other and intensify, trust me on this.

How To Store Pasta Salad

Always have pasta salad stored inside of an airtight container for freshness. This Italian pasta salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Depending on how you use the Italian dressing (using it all or reserving some)- make sure to give the pasta salad a toss before serving as the dressing may settle to the bottom.

Italian pasta salad on pink platter with gold serving spoon on the side

Give this Easy Italian Pasta Salad a spin! It’s so quick to throw together and a side dish that hits the spot. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

*This post was originally published on 6/29/2021 and updated as of 8/15/2022.

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Italian pasta salad on pink platter with gold serving spoon on the side

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
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Description

This easy Italian Pasta Salad is loaded with salami, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, olives, herbs, and pepperoncini- right along with classic rotini pasta. Paired with a dreamy, homemade Italian dressing to enrobe all that pasta goodness.


Ingredients

Scale

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 lb dried rotini pasta
  • 10 ounces salami or summer sausage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup castelvetrano olives, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese pearls
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade

For the Italian dressing:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil, good-quality
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prep the dressing: I like to prep the Italian dressing first so it’s ready to go after cooking the pasta. Combine all the dressing ingredients into a jar, cover, and shake super vigorously to fully combine. Alternatively, you can blitz everything up inside the body of a food processor as well. Then set the dressing aside while you move on to the next steps.
  2. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to your package directions, al dente. Drain the pasta and then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process- draining pasta completely. Add the cool pasta into a large bowl.
  3. Assemble the Italian Pasta Salad: Add the salami, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella pearls, onion, pepperoncini, and basil into the same bowl. Then drizzle the Italian dressing over the pasta. Use tongs to toss together, taste the pasta salad and adjust the seasonings to your preference by adding more salt, to taste.
  4. I recommend covering the bowl with a lid/plastic wrap and then placing the pasta salad into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This allows for all the flavors to meld. Before serving, toss the pasta salad together to evenly coat and then serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. This pasta salad will keep stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  2. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
italian pasta salad on pink platter