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Classic cold Italian Pasta Salad with a homemade Italian dressing is the perfect potluck or summer side dish. It’s easy to make and everyone always loves it!

A white bowl full of Pasta Salad with a large wooden spoon in it.

Is Italian pasta salad really an Italian dish?

No. This is not an authentic Italian dish. It is called Italian pasta salad because it uses Italian dressing, not because it is a traditional Italian pasta. “Italian” pasta salad is very much an American dish.

Are pasta salads healthy?

While I can not speak for other pasta salads, this pasta salad, in the right proportions, can be a great healthy choice. It not only has a good amount of vegetables, it has a great amount of healthy fats, it is packed with protein, and only has one teaspoon of sugar.

Do you rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?

Yes, you do need to rinse your pasta with cold water for a cold pasta salad. This is for a few reasons. The first reason to rinse your pasta with cold water is that it will stop the pasta from cooking any further. Second, rinsing it will get rid of a lot of the starch that causes your noodles to stick together. Third, you need cold pasta for a cold pasta salad.

A white bowl full of Pasta Salad.

How long does pasta salad with Italian dressing last?

Pasta salad with the dressing on it can be stored for later with no problems. You can put it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, but I highly recommend that you do not freeze this salad.

If you like this recipe you may also be interested in these other delicious pasta dishes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

A white bowl full of Pasta Salad with a large wooden spoon in it.
Classic cold Italian Pasta Salad with a homemade Italian dressing is the perfect potluck or summer side dish. It's easy to make and everyone always loves it!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 ounces fresh mini mozzarella cheese balls halved
  • 1/2 - 1 cup sliced olives
  • 1 cup mini pepperonis
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncinis roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion diced

Italian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cooled.
  • In a large mixing bowl, make your dressing by whisking together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.
  • Add cooked pasta in with the Italian dressing. Toss with tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, mini pepperonis, pepperoncinis and onion.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.


Calories: 503kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 330mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 20.6mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 1.7mg
Course: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta Salad
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August 5, 2018 4:46 am

5 stars
Rachel, I tried this salad yesterday for a potluck dinner with friends. It was a hit and I didn’t have any left over! I made it exactly as your recipe states and it was perfect, light, fresh and soooo colorful!! It was almost too pretty to eat! Thanks for all your recipes and I love the videos.

September 2, 2020 6:42 pm

I have a similar recipe, I use ham in place of pepperoni.

I’ll try your’s next time.

September 16, 2019 6:22 am

4 stars

July 23, 2019 5:39 pm

5 stars
Great recipe! I made this and added some cutup caprese sausages that I sauteed in a little Ghee til golden brown. Got us through a few hot summer nights and the guys loved it. Did add some salt & pepper to taste to the dressing but that’s just my personal preference as I’m sure is just as good without. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or add different veggies and/or proteins this is a keeper. The dressing is perfect, complementing the flavors of the other ingredients without being overbearing. Thanks!

July 16, 2019 3:35 pm

CCan this be made with homemade ranch dressing?

Joyce Taylor
July 16, 2019 12:35 pm

5 stars
Great salad. I used this dressing instead of making my own. It seems to be made for such a salad! Available at Walmart and Sam’s Club.: Virginia Brand Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette

June 25, 2019 1:06 pm

5 stars
Dear Rachel, This salad is fun and delicious. I love pasta salads like this….my family would love this too. Perfect for lunch or dinner!

December 14, 2018 3:42 pm

5 stars
Can you use elbow macaroni instead of rotini pasta?

August 3, 2018 6:40 pm

Sounds perfectly delicious! I love a good, traditional recipe that’s done right.

Wileen Byroads
July 30, 2018 3:15 pm

looks yummy! THANKS!

October 21, 2018 8:20 am

5 stars
Found your recipe by chance after being assigned the duty of a pasta salad for my daughter’s volleyball team. Everyone loved it- even my picky daughter!
I left out the olives and added cooked chicken breast and substituted the pepperoncini for green pepper. There were no leftovers. So happy I found this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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