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Easy Italian Pasta Salad is an easy side dish for any potluck. This simple pasta salad recipe has fresh vegetables, olives, pepperoni and salami and a Italian dressing that makes it the perfect summer salad. I’ve been making this recipe for years and everyone always loves it!
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BEST Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
There are so many Italian Pasta Salad recipes online, with different ingredients to suit different tastes – and that’s why pasta salads are so good – but this is the BEST one!
This is one of those simple recipes that I’ve been making for over 20 years and have never thought to post about it until now. This is the first pasta salad recipe I ever made and I’ve been making it for every potluck or summer party since before I was married.
I absolutely love pasta salads in summer. I love that they are better when you make them ahead of time; this is perfect for a potluck or for an easy dinner recipe. The temperature in Sacramento in the summer often reaches above 90° or 100° and cooking can be unbearable. I can make pasta salads in the morning before it’s too hot and then we can eat it for dinner and lunch for a few days.
When it comes to ingredients in this salad, you can mix and match your favorites:
- Pasta: use your favorite shape, but I love rotini for this because the ridges hold onto the dressing
- Bell peppers – use green or red or a mix of colors
- Olives – I love using black olives but you can also add green if you like
- Pepperoni and salami – or use one or the other – or even add shredded chicken. I always make my Italian Pasta Salad with pepperoni AND salami because I love both!
- Mozzarella cheese – use fresh or cubed mozzarella and you can even add shredded parmesan
- I didn’t add things like artichokes or pepperoncini but you can if you like!
How to make Italian Pasta Salad
- Make Pasta: Start by making your pasta. Cook it according to package directions for al dente. You don’t want it over cooked to start because the dressing on the salad will soften it more. Cool the pasta before making the salad. You can shock it with cold water while you drain it to help stop the cooking process.
- Chop Vegetables and Meat: Slice everything while the pasta is cooking.
- Assemble: Toss the pasta with the chopped vegetables and meat, add the cheese and dressing. Let it sit for an hour or so before serving. This gets better with age!
- Omit the salami and/or pepperoni and add rotisserie chicken or deli turkey or ham.
- Add other color bell peppers
- Use a different pasta shape
- Add pepperoncinis
- Use green olives instead of black
Your favorite kind is the best! I love using a pasta with some sort of edges or ridges (like rotini) to catch the dressing and hold onto it.
Once you add the dressing the salad is good about 48 hours. I actually like dressing the salad and letting it sit for at least 12 hours before serving. You can assemble the salad up to 2 days ahead and add the dressing before serving.
Italian Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces rotini pasta
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 8-ounce can sliced black olives drained
- 20 slices salami quartered
- 20 slices pepperoni halved
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese diced
- 1 container Italian Dressing see note
- Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Cool completely. (I like to rinse the cooked pasta with cold water to cool it down faster.)
- Mix pasta with peppers, olives, salami, pepperoni, tomatoes and cheese.
- Add dressing – as desired – and toss salad. Chill until ready to serve. Can be made up to 8 hours before serving.
**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**
Last Updated on July 1, 2023