When you are thinking of what you can bring to that next family function or BBQ, think about this Italian Pasta Salad. This pasta salad recipe with Italian dressing is the perfect easy thing to feed a crowd. Simple, easy to find ingredients, and it comes together super fast! Like my Taco Pasta Salad and my Crab Pasta Salad, this pasta salad recipe is sure to be a huge hit!
My family got back from the best most magical vacation on Thursday and I still haven’t readjusted. We may or may not have cured meltdowns and tantrums on vacation with mojitos and ice cream. (I feel like I shouldn’t need to clarify that the mojitos were for me and the ice cream was for the kids, but just in case you were wondering . . . ) So instead of feeling sad about not being on vacation anymore, I am just going to think about summer.
I love summertime recipes. Pizzas on the grill, big pitchers of sangria, and ALL the pasta salad you can think of. I have a few pasta salad recipes that get really popular this time of year because everyone is thinking about big family BBQs and picnics and these are so perfect for those!
THE PERFECT ITALIAN PASTA SALAD RECIPE
There are so many things I love about this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing.
- It comes together very fast. By the time you are done boiling your water and cooking your noodles, you will have everything chopped and ready to throw together. Then it is just a matter of tossing it with your favorite Italian dressing.
- It can be made ahead! What does every BBQ and family function need? A recipe that can be prepped ahead of time! Cook the noodles and chop the veggies the night before and then toss it all right before serving. See my tip below about prepping ahead of time!
- It’s super flexible! If your family doesn’t like olives (I suppose we can still be friends), take them out and swap in some green onions. If you want something with a little more kick, get a Pepper Jack cheese instead of Mozzarella. Don’t really dig on peppers? Throw in some carrots instead. Seriously, there is so much you can do with this pasta salad recipe.
TIPS FOR THE BEST ITALIAN PASTA SALAD RECIPE
- As soon as your noodles are done cooking (you want them to be firm but not mushy, so I always follow the time suggested on the box), drain them and rinse them with cold water. This will stop the cooking process and keep them from sticking together. Plus, this pasta salad is served cold, so you don’t really need them warm.
- Prepping this ahead of time? Want to know a neat trick? Keep the individual ingredients in separate plastic baggies. That way your olives and your red peppers won’t stain your gorgeous blocks of cheese and white noodles.
- Don’t use the full bottle of Italian dressing when you are tossing this salad. The recipe calls for 16 ounces so you know how much to buy, but it is best to just pour about half the bottle, toss the salad and put the rest on the side so people can add more if they like.
OTHER GREAT RECIPES FOR A PICNIC
If you are hosting a family gathering or picnic, you will love these other great recipes on your menu!
- This Mixed Greens Salad With Fruit screams summer picnic!
- I know my party guests would flip for these Cherry Mojitos!
- I’m all about big salads at BBQs and summer picnics and this Cobb Salad is just that!
WATCH ME MAKE ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 pound tri colored pasta cooked and drained (note one)
- 1 orange bell pepper diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 3 ounces sliced pepperoni quartered
- 6 ounces sliced black olives
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1/2 cup sliced pepper rings optional (found near the pickles)
- 16 ounces Italian salad dressing (see note two)
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, rinsing with cold water when done.
- While the pasta is cooking, dice the peppers, slice the grape tomatoes, quarter the pepperoni, and cube the cheese.
- Mix together all of the ingredients except for the salad dressing. Add approximately 1 cup of the salad dressing to the pasta salad, reserving the rest on the side for guests to add to their portion if they would like more.
- Serve cold. See notes in the post for how to make this ahead of time.
2. When mixing this salad, only use about half of the dressing, leaving the rest on the side for guests to add to their serving if they wish.
More dishes that are perfect for big gatherings!