This easy Italian Pasta Salad is a tasty cold pasta salad with mozzarella, salami, peppers, and olives mixed in a tangy Italian dressing. It is the perfect potluck dish!

Italian Pasta Salad in a white bowl with wooden serving spoons

This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a summer potluck classic. It’s a cold pasta salad packed with pasta, Italian meats, vegetables, and cheese giving it bold Italian flavors that are brought together with the tangy Italian dressing. It’s a quick and easy side dish tastes as good as it looks!

Cold salads like this Italian Pasta Salad, Ramen Noodle Salad, or  Classic Macaroni salad, are the perfect thing to bring to potlucks, to serve at family get-togethers, or to have in the fridge for a quick lunch. 

These simple salads are served cold, so you don’t have to worry about transporting a hot dish or warming it up when you get to a friend’s house. They are so good you never have to bring home leftovers! 

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Italian Pasta Salad in a bowl with wooden spoon and linen cloth

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Pasta – rotini (add a little extra color with tri-color rotini, penne, and farfalle are the types used most often.
  • Mozzarella cheese – shredded or balls
  • Salami – cut into bite sized pieces
  • Black Olives – sliced; you can sub with Kalamata olives if you prefer
  • Pepperoncini peppers – sliced or whole, depending on preference
  • Bell peppers – diced; use green, orange, yellow, red, or a blend of them
  • Tomatoes – diced; you can use grape tomatoes cut in half
  • Red Onion – Slice or dice your red onions it’s up to you. If you want to add a little extra punch of flavor throw in some pickled red onions too!
  • Italian salad dressing – We have a great recipe for homemade Italian salad dressing or you can use your favorite store bought brand
serving Italian Pasta Salad with wooden spoons

If you love a good potluck recipe make sure to try our cowboy caviar and cucumber and tomatoes salads too!

How to Make Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing

Step 1 – Cook pasta – Add salt to a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Make sure you cook the pasta to al dente (which means it will have a little firmness to it) so that it holds up in the salad.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain the water and place the pasta in a large bowl.

Step 2 – Add other ingredients – Add all other pasta salad ingredients, 3/4 cup of the Italian dressing, and toss together. 

Step 3 – Set and serve – Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld together. Before serving pour 1/4 cup of dressing over the salad and toss together. The dressing soaks into the pasta as it sits, so adding a little extra will give it a new coating of flavor. Serve cold.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Italian Pasta Salad in a white bowl

Other Variations

Want to really make your salad stand out? Try adding these to the mix:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Prosciutto
  • Pepperoni
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley or any other fresh herbs you like

One of the things I love most about classic pasta salad with Italian dressing is that you can customize it to your own taste. You want to stick with Italian ingredients, but other than that you can have fun with it and make it your own.

If you don’t eat meat, you can make it with only veggies or check out our vegan pasta salad recipe made with gluten free pasta.

If you are a meat-lover, then add a few different types of Italian meats. We even have a recipe for a Keto Antipasto Salad for all of you who are cutting back on carbs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you rinse pasta for cold salad?

Yes, it is recommended to rinse pasta for cold salad. Rinsing the pasta with cold water after it has been cooked will help stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly, which is important for making a cold pasta salad. It also helps remove excess starch, which can make the pasta sticky and clump together. Once the pasta has been rinsed, it’s important to drain it well before adding it to the other ingredients in the salad.

Can You Make Italian Pasta Salad Ahead Of Time?

Yes! I recommend it. Pasta salad always tastes better after it has had time to sit for a while. It gives the pasta time to absorb all of the flavors. You can make this pasta up to 2 days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

What are the ingredients typically used in Italian pasta salad?

The ingredients typically used in Italian pasta salad include cooked pasta (such as rotini, fusilli, or penne), chopped vegetables (such as bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes), cheese (such as mozzarella or Parmesan), Italian dressing, and sometimes meat (such as salami or ham).

How do you keep pasta salad from drying out in the fridge?

To keep pasta salad from drying out in the fridge, it’s important to store it properly. Make sure the pasta salad is completely cool before storing it in the fridge. If it’s warm, it can create condensation in the container, which can lead to excess moisture and a soggy salad.

Store the pasta salad in an airtight container. This will help prevent air from getting in and drying out the pasta salad.

Add a bit more dressing before storing the pasta salad. As the pasta salad sits in the fridge, the pasta will absorb some of the dressing, which can make it dry out. Adding a bit more dressing before storing it will help keep it moist.

What type of pasta is best for Italian pasta salad?

The best type of pasta for Italian pasta salad is one with ridges or spirals, such as rotini, fusilli, or penne. These shapes hold onto the dressing and other ingredients well, making for a more flavorful salad.

How many calories are in a serving of Italian pasta salad?

The number of calories in a serving of Italian pasta salad will depend on the specific recipe and ingredients used. However, a typical serving of pasta salad (about 1 cup) ranges from 200-400 calories.

Italian Pasta Salad on a fork

What to Serve with Cold Pasta Salad

My family often has pasta salad with our large family meals, such as holidays, potlucks, and backyard BBQs. Try pairing it with these recipes and your dish will be a hit!

How to Store It

To store Italian pasta salad, follow these steps:

  1. Allow the pasta salad to cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. This will prevent condensation from forming and keep the salad from getting too soggy.
  2. Transfer the pasta salad to an airtight container. This will help keep the salad fresh and prevent any odors from the fridge from being absorbed into the salad.
  3. Cover the container with a lid and make sure it is sealed tightly. You can also use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover the container.
  4. Label the container with the date it was made, so you can keep track of how long it has been in the fridge. Pasta salad can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  5. Before serving, give the pasta salad a good stir to redistribute the dressing and any ingredients that may have settled on the bottom. You may want to add a little more Italian dressing if it seems dry.

By following these steps, you can store your Italian pasta salad safely in the fridge and keep it fresh for several days.

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Servings: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Italian Pasta Salad

This easy Italian Pasta Salad is a tasty cold pasta salad with mozzarella, salami, peppers, and olives mixed in a tangy Italian dressing. The perfect potluck dish!
Italian Pasta Salad in a white bowl with wooden serving spoons
Print Recipe
4 from 1 vote


  • 16 ounces Rotini pasta
  • 12 ounces Salami , cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 pints Cherry tomatoes , cut in half
  • 1.5 cups Orange bell pepper , diced
  • 12 ounces Pepperoncini
  • 1 cup Black olives , sliced
  • ½ cup Red onion , diced
  • 16 ounces Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parsley , finely chopped
  • 1 cup Italian dressing


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions.
  • Once the pasta has cooked drain water and place in a large bowl.
  • Add all of the other ingredients and toss together.
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld together. Serve cold.


Calories: 595kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Sodium: 1759mg, Potassium: 548mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1381IU, Vitamin C: 44mg, Calcium: 230mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cold pasta salad, cold pasta salad recipe, italian pasta salad recipe, pasta salad with italian dressing, talian pasta salad

This post first appeared on Real Housemoms where I’m a contributor.