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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.

What other pasta shapes can I use?

We love rotini pasta in pasta salad, but you can use bowties, shells, radiatorre, or macaroni.

Cheese Options:

We love fresh mini-mozzarella balls in this pasta salad, but if you don’t like them or can’t find them you can feel free to use whatever cheese you prefer. Other great options include diced block mozzarella cheese, Monterey jack, or cheddar.

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.

Storage Instructions:

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 YouTubeFacebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Italian pasta salad.
This classic Italian pasta salad recipe is so simple to put together! It’s filled with chilled rotini, plenty of veggies, mozzarella cheese, and our homemade Italian dressing. Light and fresh, it’s the perfect addition to a picnic or potluck.
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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