There’s something about pasta salad recipes and summertime that just make the world happy. Our Easy Italian Pasta Salad recipe has a homemade Italian dressing, meat, cheese, and veggies!
Homemade Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
Have you made our Greek Pasta Salad? It’s really good and one of our most popular recipes on our site. Here’s the thing though, not everyone is a fan of feta cheese, so we felt like we had no choice but to bust out an amazingly easy Italian pasta salad recipe complete with mozzarella cheese, fresh and flavorful homemade Italian dressing, and meat and vegetables galore.
We first made this Italian Salad Dressing in a recipe for Cowboy Caviar Quinoa that totally breaks our hearts. We’ve become close with all of you as readers so we don’t mind opening up and telling you the truth. And the truth is, some of our favorite recipes never end up taking off on the blog (or pinterest, which feeds us, haha).
Every blogger will tell you the same thing — the recipes we think are totally going to make it and be a reader favorite often end up flopping, while the recipes we whip together on a whim and think will tank end up being viral.
No one understands it, but that’s the way it is. It’s at 255 pins on pinterest right now. Whomp, whomp. We love it as a salad or eaten with chips. Maybe the quinoa scared people away?
What’s in Italian Pasta Salad?
I’ll be honest with you — our kids totally pick out some of the ingredients in this homemade pasta salad with Italian dressing. Two of our kids love straight up cold pepperoni. (One even requested chicken nuggets, pepperoni, and carrot sticks for her birthday dinner a few years ago. Yeah.). So Cade and I are left to eat whatever’s leftover from this pasta salad with pepperoni. The joys of parenthood!
To make this Italian pasta salad recipe, you’ll need:
- Rotini pasta
- Chopped pepperoni
- Chopped salami
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Bell pepper
- Red onion
- Italian salad dressing (we’ve include our homemade dressing recipe in the recipe card below!)
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad
Don’t let all the mix-ins fool you, this Italian pasta salad with pepperoni is as easy as it gets! Here’s how we make this pasta salad with Italian dressing:
- Whisk together the homemade pasta salad dressing.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and let cool.
- Add the pasta, dressing, and remaining ingredients to a large bowl and gently toss to mix.
What to Serve with Italian Pasta Salad
This cold pasta salad with Italian dressing is good with a lot of different foods, from ham to pulled pork to hamburgers. You name it, I bet it’ll taste good with this homemade pasta salad!
A few of our favorite mains to enjoy alongside this Italian pasta salad are:
- Grilled Honey Lemon Basil Chicken
- Balsamic Glazed Grilled Chicken
- BEST Carolina Pulled Pork
- Garlic Honey Mustard Ham
- Sticky BBQ Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs
- World’s Best Brown Sugar Ham
- Traeger Smoked Chicken Breasts
Can I Prep Italian Pasta Salad in Advance?
It’s best to prepare this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing as close to eating it as possible. The longer it sits, the more it will absorb the dressing and turn bland in flavor. Not to mention, the noodles become overly soft and swollen.
If you wish to prepare this Italian pasta salad with pepperoni ahead of time, make sure the noodles are stored in a zip-top bag and the other ingredients are stored in a separate container with the dressing in a jar. That way, everything is prepped but nothing turns soggy!
Can Pasta Salad Be Frozen?
No. Oh, please no. Pasta does not hold up well in the freezer unless it’s in a casserole, and even then it really struggles because it absorbs the sauce or dressing just as it does in the fridge.
Tips for Making Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
When cooking the pasta for this Italian pasta salad with pepperoni, you want to cook it just until al dente. Remember that the pasta will be sitting in the pasta salad dressing, so you want it to have a little bite to it otherwise it’ll become mushy.
Also note that you’re welcome to use any short, sturdy pasta you have on hand. We prefer rotini pasta, but penne, macaroni, or bow-tie pasta would work too!
Lastly, as we’ve mentioned in our other pasta salad recipe, you should never refrigerate pasta salad before serving it. The pasta becomes mushy the longer it sits in the fridge, and fridge-cold pasta salad is often too dry for our liking.
More PASTA SALAD RECIPES:
- Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Elote Mexican Corn Pasta Salad
- Cuban Pasta Salad
- Teriyaki Chicken Pasta Salad
- Pizza Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- All our PASTA RECIPES here!
Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 Pound Rotini Pasta
- 1 Cup Chopped Pepperoni
- 1 Cup Chopped Salami
- 1/2 Cup Sliced Black Olives
- 1 Cup Chopped Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tomatoes, , chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, , chopped
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Red Onion
For the Italian Dressing:
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, , grated
- 1 Tablespoon Red Bell Pepper, , chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Parsley
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dry Onion Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic, , minced
- 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
- 1 Teaspoon Dry Basil
- 1 Teaspoon Dry Oregano
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
- Prepare the dressing by adding everything to a glass jar, adding the lid and shaking to combine, or whisking in a bowl.
For the Pasta Salad:
- Cook the pasta for about 7-8 minutes, or until it's just al dente.
- Place the cooked pasta in a strainer in the sink and let cool.
- Add the mix in ingredients and the salad dressing as well as salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to coat and serve within 30 minutes.
So glad I finally found this recipe. I do 💘 Love this type of pasta salad and all the ingredients are exactly what I prefer. Anxiously waiting for those delicious Summer Tomatoes to ripen. I will probably use whatever kind of onion I happen to have. Glad I found this one. **
Yay! You’re going to love it Judy! I’m dying for those garden tomatoes to start turning red! We would love to hear what you think!
Please clarify this. In the verbiage above the recipe states: ” you should never refrigerate pasta salad before serving it.” However, below the recipe states to store pasta salad in fridge. Which is correct?
Don’t put it in the fridge before serving it but if you have leftovers after serving it, it should be stored in the fridge. Sorry for the confusion!
But I cheat and use bottled Italian dressing
and cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
Cheating is allowed 😉
Jean Marie Lang
I made this up today, and can’t wait for my husband and the rest of the family to taste. 🙂
Thank you for what looks like an awesome recipe.
Yay!! Let us know how it goes!! Thank you!
I am going to try your Italian pasta salad
I’m making this tonight! Can’t wait to try it. I’ve been wanting a good pasta salad recipe.
Let us know what you think! We have a few more delicious pasta salads on the blog too.
It was very good! My husband isn’t really big on eating anything with pasta, but he really liked this one. Thanks for sharing!
Yay! We love to hear that!
Can the dressing be made the night before?
Sorry I just read your post and it answers my question.
Absolutely! It actually tastes even better if it has time to meld all together for a little while. Enjoy!
It looks like there are red onions in this pasta, but I don’t see them in the recipe. How much does the recipe call for? Thanks!
Thank you for catching that, I’ve corrected it.