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, 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 – make your own with a blend of olive oil and red wine vinegar or 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.

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, 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!

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.

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!

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Servings: 12
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Chill Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins

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!


  • 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.