This recipe is flexible and forgiving, making it perfect for picnics, potlucks, cookouts, and even weeknight dinners. If you’re looking to add some protein, feel free to mix in some grilled chicken. We use a simple homemade pesto to ensure that this salad gets the best basil flavor which you can only really get from fresh.

Close up view of a bowl filled with pesto pasta salad.

Pasta Options

We love how the spiral pasta holds onto the pesto, giving you plenty of sauce in each bite! However, you could also use farfalle, fusilli, penne, or even macaroni.  You can also use your favorite gluten-free pasta, but be sure to not overcook.

Homemade Pesto

Store-bought is just never as good as fresh. However, you are welcome to substitute in store-bought pesto if needed. You will need to use 1 1/2 cups of prepared pesto for this recipe.

If you can’t find pine nuts for your homemade pesto, or simply don’t want the expense of the ingredient, both walnuts and sunflower seeds make great substitutes.

Overhead view of pesto pasta salad in a dinner bowl.

Additional Topping Options

Some favorite complementary addition ideas are:

  • chopped cucumbers
  • chopped zucchini
  • roasted red pepper
  • roasted asparagus
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • goat cheese

Storage Instructions

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container. The salad will keep fresh for up to 3 days. You can enjoy it cold straight from the fridge or at room temperature.

More delicious pasta salads