Appetizers/ Holiday Food/ Pasta/ Side Dishes/ Vegetarian Recipes

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Easy Italian Pasta Salad - Hands down, the best summer pasta salad! Made with fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden vegetable pasta! Serve for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties!

Creamy Italian dressing tossed with garden vegetable pasta, fresh mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, garden herbs, and vegetables.  Serve for barbecues, summer holidays, potlucks and as a side dish alongside any main star meal.

Memorial Day is this weekend and it’s the unofficial start of summer across the country.  It’s hard to believe June is here and we’re already halfway through the year.  Where has the time gone?

With summer parties in full swing, we’re planning our holiday menus with potluck dishes and this creamy Italian Pasta Salad couldn’t be a bigger hit to serve.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad - Hands down, the best summer pasta salad! Made with fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden vegetable pasta! Serve for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties!


Pasta that’s stored in the refrigerator tends to pick up a lot of moisture. Because the noodles start dry and then they are hydrated, it will continue to pick up any moisture that it’s coated in. This pasta salad is best served cold, just a few hours after it’s made. However, I’ve made this the day before a party and I’ve had success storing the pasta noodles separate from the dressing. Right before I head out the door with this summer pasta side dish in hand, I toss everything together.

As summer kicks off, I find myself turning to quick dishes that can feed a crowd and this easy pasta dish is perfect for graduation parties, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.  We also love it as a side with summer grilled meats like steak, burgers, and chicken.  You’ll find the pasta refreshing with cold Italian dressing, fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden herbs.

If you love to entertain or find yourself wanting to bring a dish to pass to a summer party, then you’ll love that this pasta captures the flavors of summer while being a hit among any menu.

Italian pasta salad is not technically Italian. It’s an American dish that’s made with Italian dressing. The pasta gets coated in Italian dressing whether it’s homemade or from a bottle.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad - Hands down, the best summer pasta salad! Made with fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden vegetable pasta! Serve for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties! #pasta #potluck #Italian


Italian Pasta Salad is always served cold. Once the pasta is cooked, it gets cooled under a running faucet of cold water. This step shocks the pasta and prevents it from cooking further. If you’ve ever had soggy or sticky pasta, it’s possible it was cooked too long. This step ensures the pasta is cooked to perfection which in my option, makes for the best pasta salad. The cold wash also rinses off extra starches from the pasta.

I’ve been making this Italian Pasta Salad for 15 years and it’s always the number one side dish requested at family parties.  This appetizer takes 20 minutes to prepare and includes simple pantry ingredients to feed a crowd.

Because the flavors of this dish are simple, I like to use garden vegetable pasta noodles to add extra flavor.  You’ll find this colorful rotini pasta in the pasta aisle at any grocery store. I think the tri-color pasta elevates this dish and makes it look even more refreshing.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad - Hands down, the best summer pasta salad! Made with fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden vegetable pasta! Serve for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties! #Italian #pasta #potluck #vegetarian

Pasta salad is one of the summers must have side dishes.  A good salad deserves bragging rights, and this easy dish is no exception.  This dish has been a favorite in my house for many, many years.  Summer wouldn’t be complete without a hearty pasta salad full of fresh flavors and bright colors!

Looking for other pasta salad dishes to serve this summer?  Try this Caprese Pasta Salad or this fan favorite, BLT Pasta Salad.  Of course, no summer is complete without my favorite Loaded Baked Potato Salad recipe!

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Hands down, the best summer pasta salad! Made with fresh vegetables, cheeses, and garden vegetable pasta! Serve this Easy Italian Pasta Salad for potlucks, barbecues, and summer parties!
5 from 9 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Cookout, Italian, Pasta Salad, Summer Recipes, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 11 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 281kcal


  • 16 ounces Garden Rotoni Pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella balls
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese (cubed)
  • 10 green onions springs (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds removed for less heat)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup Italian Dressing (use up to ¼ cup more dressing once pasta absorbs liquid)


  • Fill large pot with water and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil then place on stove top over medium-high heat. 
  • Cook pasta according to directions ( I cooked mine for 9-10 minutes ) then rinse under cold water and allow water to drain. 
  • Meanwhile, chop cherry tomatoes, green onions, cheddar cheese, and jalapeno.  Use the seeds of the jalapeno for more added heat or discard if you don't want spicy. 
  • In a large bowl, combine pasta with all ingredients and toss to coat.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese.  
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.  If pasta absorbs too much liquid, simply add more dressing.
  • **Italian dressing can also be made with dry packet mix sold in salad dressing aisle.  We love to use the dry packet mix with package ingredients!


Making this dish ahead of time? Everything can be combined and stored in the refrigerator, BUT the dressing. Do not add the dressing until ready to serve, if making ahead of time.


Calories:281kcal | Carbohydrates:28g | Protein:13g | Fat:13g | Saturated Fat:5g | Cholesterol:25mg | Sodium:341mg | Potassium:200mg | Fiber:1g | Sugar:3g | Vitamin A:470IU | Vitamin C:10.5mg | Calcium:233mg | Iron:1mg


  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Jyothi (Jo)
    07/03/2018 at 10:33 am

    5 stars
    I’m getting my Greek pasta salad ready for posting later next week and then I come across this. Your salad looks so so delicious! Beautiful photos

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    aditi bahl
    07/05/2018 at 12:23 am

    5 stars
    Pasta salad is a yes anytime in our house. This recipe looks so vibrant and colorful. I am surely trying this one soon.

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
    07/05/2018 at 7:35 am

    5 stars
    Mmmmmmm … pasta salads like this just scream “summer picnic”! Terrific suggestion to use tri-color pasta, and great tips for making it ahead (I’m allll about make-ahead tips and tricks in my recipes, too!) … and a fun little kick with the addition of a bit of jalapeno! Oh – and great photos, too – what a terrific post!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    07/05/2018 at 12:09 pm

    5 stars
    I love a good pasta salad, but have never made one at home! I am always craving it during the summer, but instead I make soups and stews. What is wrong with me!! I gotta try this!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Elaine @ Dishes Delish
    07/05/2018 at 1:36 pm

    5 stars
    I have always been a sucker for a good pasta salad! Your recipe looks both delicious and easy! I have another BBQ to go to this weekend, so I think I’ll be bringing this as my contribution!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Whitney Bond
    07/05/2018 at 8:56 pm

    5 stars
    I love pasta salad either for a potluck or just an easy summer dinner! This looks great, I especially like the addition of the jalapeno!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    prasanna hede
    07/07/2018 at 12:25 pm

    I love the vibrant colors there,plus pasta salad works great as meal in itself.Loved this recipe.

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    07/08/2018 at 2:42 pm

    Summer pasta salads are my favourite things to eat when it’s super hot out there! Love all the fresh veggies packed in yours, I’ll definitely make it soon!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Kim @ Berly's Kitchen
    07/08/2018 at 7:31 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve basically lived on pasta salads this summer. They are so easy to make. This one sounds so good, and I love the extra kick from the jalapeno. Adding this one to my list to make next!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    07/09/2018 at 7:29 am

    I love a great pasta salad for easy summer meals! This one looks perfect for lunch or as an addition to dinner or a potluck!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Veronika's Kitchen
    07/09/2018 at 8:12 am

    5 stars
    I am such a fan of Pasta Salad, especially during the summer time! So easy to make and so delicious)

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    07/09/2018 at 9:26 am

    This is the time of year for pasta salads and I love this one it looks perfect for dinner or a side dish!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Pat Kinnamn
    07/27/2018 at 8:46 pm

    5 stars
    This looks yummy. I am definately going to try this. My husbands family is Itilian. The Jalepino will add a kick.

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