Our Absolute Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes

tomato mozzarella pasta salad in white bowl
Photo: Ren Fuller

If you're feeding a crowd, there's nothing better than a big bowl of pasta salad. Whether it's for a summer cookout, a holiday buffet, or an anytime accompaniment to a sandwich, pasta salad works and always wins. Our pasta salad recipes can be made well in advance—and toted to a potluck or picnic—and are perfect for big-batch cooking throughout the week.

A chilled pasta salad holds up remarkably well in the fridge, too: You can make a big batch of noodles and mix in fresh vegetables without dressing the salad first. The beauty of a pasta salad is that you can edit and tweak the formula any way you wish—choose your favorite noodle, a blend of vegetables, a sprinkle of protein if need be, and sauce or dressing when you're ready to serve.

01 of 15

Spaghetti Salad

Spaghetti Salad
Mike Krautter

Here's a colorful and different pasta salad. While we generally recommend a short pasta for this dish, we also love this rendition, complete with long, skinny strands of pasta. It's chock full of bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta.

02 of 15

Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Green Beans, and Basil

Pasta Salad with Green Beans and Basil
Ren Fuller

If you're a fan of mayo-based pasta salad, we have you covered. This hearty, delicious vegetarian pasta salad has it all: There's crunch from the green beans and protein from the chickpeas, while red onion adds a bite and fresh basil brings a wonderful aroma and herbal freshness.

03 of 15

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas

tomato mozzarella pasta salad in white bowl
Ren Fuller

Our summer go-to, this vegetarian pasta salad is protein packed thanks to the mozzarella and chickpeas. It's also mayo-free—a lemony-garlic-oregano dressing brings plenty of punchy flavor.

04 of 15

Orecchiette, Celery, and Olive Salad with Ricotta Salata

Orecchiette, Celery, and Olive Salad
Ren Fuller

Orecchiette are "little ears," but in this recipe, the pasta serves as little bowls for salty, soft cheese, crunchy celery, and briny olives.

05 of 15

Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula

Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese

Gemelli pasta is combined with cannellini beans, goat cheese, arugula, and a touch of Dijon mustard for a satisfying and flavor-packed pasta salad.

06 of 15

Eggplant Salad with Israeli Couscous and Basil

eggplant salad

Tender Israeli couscous is united with sautéed eggplant and shallots, then finished with fresh basil. This flavorful salad can be on the table in 25 minutes.

07 of 15

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Tuna Macaroni Salad
Mike Krautter

A deli crowd-pleaser since the '70s, tuna macaroni salad is a versatile side dish or a simple lunch. Our version amps up the flavors with jalapeño and tangy buttermilk and keeps well in the refrigerator, ready to satisfy when hunger strikes.

08 of 15

Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans

pea bean pasta salad in a jar
Bryan Gardner

Citrusy and cilantro-packed, this pasta salad pairs well with grilled chicken or tuna. And if you don't have cilantro, try it with mint, parsley, or a combination of fine herbs.

09 of 15

Antipasti Pasta Salad

Antipasta Salad
Petrina Tinslay

This pasta salad features the flavors of a traditional Italian antipasti platter, mixed with spiral-shaped pasta. Salami, mozzarella cheese, green olives, and jarred red peppers are called for, but feel free to add or substitute other ingredients, such as tuna, provolone, anchovies, artichoke hearts, capers, or marinated mushrooms.

10 of 15

Marinated-Artichoke and Green-Bean Pasta Salad

artichoke pasta salad green bean
Ren Fuller

For a fresh, light pasta salad, skip the mayonnaise and dress it with rich olive oil, artichoke brine, and lemon juice, instead. You can make the pasta salad up to four hours in advance and eat it chilled or at room temperature.

11 of 15

Emeril's Macaroni Salad

Emeril's macaroni salad

This elbow macaroni salad has everything: It gets its richness from crisp-cooked prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese while olives, capers, tomatoes, fresh parsley, and a mustard vinaigrette punch up the flavor. The assembled salad can be stored and refrigerated for up to one day.

12 of 15

Pasta Salad with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

Pasta Salad with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Basil
Con Poulos

Just right for potlucks or picnics, this easygoing recipe can be served hot or at room temperature (and it travels well). Make the slow-roasted tomatoes head of time and the dish comes together in just 20 minutes.

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Three-Bean Pasta Salad

Three-Bean Pasta Salad

A favorite for picnics since it's easy to transfer, this pasta salad is a satisfying choice for any meal thanks to canned pinto beans and chickpeas; the green beans bring crunch and color. You can use any small shell pasta for this recipe.

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Pasta, Arugula, and Mozzarella Salad

Pasta, Arugula, and Mozzarella Salad
Marcus Nilsson

A lemon juice-olive oil dressing makes this pasta salad sing. It's a side that can also be a main, as there's mozzarella for protein, baby arugula for the vegetable contingent, and short pasta such as campanelle for heft.

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Tortellini Salad

tortellini pasta salad
Mike Krautter

Here's another make-ahead pasta salad recipe. You can refrigerate this dish for up to a day for optimal freshness. Hold off on tossing in the prosciutto crisps and arugula until just before serving to keep them crisp.

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