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25 Best Pasta Salad Recipes (All Types)

Pasta salad is a recipe that has endless variety, there's an endless option of pasta recipe you can try. Here are our top selections for pasta salad recipes.

6 Different pasta salad recipes in a collage.
As a chef working on a cookbook, my job involves quite a lot of researching recipes. Pasta salad is a good example of a recipe that has a lot more volume than you would expect. I knew with the variety of pastas on the market there would be plenty to go around.

But really there are endless options when it comes to pasta salads. Here are about 30 recipes in this roundup to show you what I feel are some of the top selections or best in show for pasta salad recipes.

Pasta Salad Recipes 

Vegan Pasta Salad With Whole Wheat Tube Shaped Penne

Whole-Wheat Vegan Pasta Salad in a Bowl.
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This first recipe is for Whole Wheat Vegan Pasta Salad, and it takes the dairy out of the equation. First of all, the pasta features penne pasta in the classic semi-long tube-shaped straight but cut on a bias noodle.

Penne pasta is one of the most popular pasta that you find anywhere, and having it in stock in your pantry is a sure thing. It also calls for equal parts tri-colored pasta to liven things up a bit. An Italian dressing is a binding sauce that holds the chopped and diced veg to the pasta.

Pasta Salad With Bow Tie Shaped Pasta and Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan pasta salad with cheese and a grater.
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This next recipe stars that fun-loving bow tie pasta shape. I’m a personal lover of the bow tie pasta and feel like it’s both classy and sexy. Everybody loves a bow, especially if you are into getting presents! These noodles also look like butterflies, for an absolute winner.

The recipe for this pasta salad is not vegan with the use of both Parmesan cheese and bacon bits, which are actually vegan. You could technically make this vegan with the use of vegan Parm, as the other ingredients are all vegan.

Make it a BLT! Pasta Salad With More Bow Tie Noodles

Pasta salad with veggies, tomato, cheese and letuce.
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Again, bacon! This recipe is another bow tie success story. I will say, the picture is misleading. I thought it was a spiral-shaped pasta, but it appears to be a bow tie one!

Alas, my preference is noted by the Internet gods. Let me also warn you, this is the healthier version of a pasta salad with the inclusion of romaine lettuce and Roma tomatoes. 

Pasta Salad With Spiral Shaped Rotini and Vinaigrette 

Fusilli salad with tomato and onions in a plate
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Now we are talking about the spirals, another one of the funner noodles I have come across. Spirals are out of control! Anyway, this recipe is for Easy Rotini Pasta Salad. It includes the ingredients to make what they are referring to as a light vinaigrette with fewer calories and fat. 

Large Elbow Noodles and Mexican Street Corn in Pasta Salad


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Considered by Betty Crocker to be a potluck favorite, this recipe for Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is a fancy upgrade for cold mac and cheese in my opinion. I love the flavors and textures of roasted corn on the cob soaked in butter and smeared in mayo with a queso fresco cheese coating. This is all included in this pasta salad for a fairly authentic Mexican-inspired dish.

Tight Spiral Fusilli Antipasto Salad Like the Italians Do It

Macaroni Salad with basil, olives, tomato and tuna.
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The Italian Pasta Salad that we know and love could be truly Italian or also just inspired by the cuisine. You be the judge with this Quick Antipasto Pasta Salad recipe. Fusilli pasta that looks like tightly packed spirals is the main ingredient here. Genoa salami, pepperoni, artichoke hearts, olives, and Asiago make it more Italian than ever.

Bow Tie aka Farfalle in Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad 

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The next country of cuisine we are hitting up is the Mediterranean and what is better than fish from that region? They say most Mediterranean dishes star fish, but not actual starfish, and this Mediterranean Pasta Salad with canned tuna is right on the money.

It also comes with feta cheese, walnuts, and hummus plus some kale. The pasta is the bow tie, my personal pick, and they call it farfalle, so we are both learning something today!

Elbow Macaroni Salad Fit for Hawaiian Luaus 

Elbow salad with fresh fish and scallion in a bowl.
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Elbow macaroni noodles are the quintessential pasta for mac and cheese, my go-to weekday meal in a flash. Here I am discovering the joy of eating elbow macaroni in Taste of Home’s Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe. The use of cider vinegar, carrot, mayo, and celery for the base of the dressing is something exotic-sounding, for sure.

It feels light, something perfect for Japanese-inspired, fresh fish poke flavors, except there is no seaweed. You need to add some seaweed sprinkles or some furikake, in my professional opinion, to make it more tropical or beach-tasting. Yes, Hawaii is not Japan, but the seaweed is beach-universal.

Caprese Style Macaroni Salad With Tiny Mozzarella Balls

Caprese Fusilli salad with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil.
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Summertime sizzles and you need something to cool your tongue while feeding your belly? I call for a Caprese salad, 100 percent of the time when you have fresh basil and tomatoes. My preference is the Tommy Toe tomatoes, which are baby-sized, better known as cherry tomatoes.

They go in this recipe with shredded fresh basil leaves and fresh baby balls of mozzarella. I recently discovered these mozzarella balls at Whole Foods Market, and they are wonderful for melting and pasta.

Fresher than Fresh Cubed Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Fusilli Salad with arugula, cherry tomato and spices.
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Here is another fresh as heck and great for summer gardeners’ recipe, the Tomato, and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad. The pasta salad features a handful of square-shaped mozzarella morsels, fresh whole basil leaves, and halved tiny tomatoes. Pretty much you’ve got yourself a second Caprese pasta salad option with this one.

I will say, the use of the white wine vinaigrette amps up the flavor profile in all the right ways. You could easily pair a white wine on the side of this pasta salad for a barbeque dinner.

Texas Cowboy Caviar Pasta Salad With Suddenly Salad Mix

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The name sounds like a lot is going on because it is–flavor and component-wise. But you do not have to do any cooking, and it’s very nutritious and delicious! Texas Cowboy Caviar Pasta Salad is a corn and black bean-based pasta salad with the noodles and seasonings of a Suddenly Salad Mix by Betty Crocker.

You get to cheat a little there with the use of the seasonings and pasta that is perfectly suited for pasta salad. The use of the veggies is a nice way to bulk up one of those box mixes, which are usually a dollar, as a way to make a hearty meal.

Real Crab Optional Shrimp and Elbow Macaroni Salad

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Do you live somewhere coastal with fresh seafood in abundance? Make the most of the seasons and use this Shrimp and Crab Macaroni Salad recipe by Taste of Home. It is an exceptional option when you have a hankering for seafood as you will be including giant chunks of lump crab meat and whole peeled shrimp in a size large which is 31 to 40 per pound.

According to Fulton Fish Market, that is eight to nine shrimp per serving if you are controlling your portion sizes. Which you should; we do that here at our place as a necessity in cost savings.

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Short Pasta Salad With Goat Cheese  

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It also has arugula, Martha’s creamy Pasta Salad With Goat Cheese, along with white-colored kidney beans called navy or cannellini beans. You can usually find these canned and navy beans seem smaller in size to me than cannellini beans. Butter beans would do in a pinch but would need to be dried and then toasted in a pan with some oil before adding to the pasta.

The pasta salad by Martha uses fresh goat cheese and Dijon mustard for the two creamy components. The noodle she calls to use is Gemelli, which is a tightly wound spiral noodle. The recipe notes that you can use any short pasta for this recipe, though, if Gemelli is not available. 

Pasta Salad With Shrimp in Minestrone Soup Flavors

Shrimp fusilli salad with green olives, cherry tomatoes and basil.
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For the lighter fare days, here is a cool rendition of a heavy, creamy pasta salad. Taste of Home presents the Minestrone-Style Shrimp Salad with a lettuce and herb leaf base. The noodles are a generic spiral, aka any will do, and they use a tri-color variety.

Let me also just say, there’s a ton of ingredients in this recipe–nearly 20–and this makes it very much like a minestrone soup. Along with shrimp, the recipe requests using white kidney or cannellini beans for a hearty, protein-packed pasta salad with actual salad. It’s a three-course meal packed into one! 

Pasta Salad With Barbeque Flavors

Cheesy barbeque flavor elbow with in a bowl.
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Now I have another recipe for pasta salad that tastes like the whole enchilada of a barbeque picnic. This is Barbeque Macaroni Salad and the recipe is very similar to egg salad. You have boiled eggs and sweet pickle relish and ground mustard, which are also key to deviled eggs. Ranch salad dressing mix and BBQ sauce are the heavy hitters in the cream sauce.

I really like this one a lot, but then again, I love barbeque chicken, too. 

Classic Elbow Macaroni Pasta Salad by Southern Living

Vegetable elbow salad with cucumber, cheese and bell pepper.
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Southern Living presents its version of a Classic Macaroni Salad. This recipe was published in their print magazine in 2007 and appears quite loved by readers. It is also notably from the South since this is Southern Living after all!

Great for a cold dish, this recipe uses lots of veggies–cucumber, tomato, and a trio of colorful bell peppers. Ham and mayo are the sinners in the Southern-style Classic Macaroni Salad.

Pasta Salad Gets the Chickpea Treatment

Fusilli salad with tomatoes, green peas, chick peas and mozzarella.
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Now here we have Martha’s up-scaled take on this classic recipe with Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas. Again, she uses that fancy corkscrew pasta called Gemelli or the optional fusilli, but that’s just the beginning. Other gourmet ingredients in this recipe include capers, fennel, and real Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you get the cheesemonger to grate your Parm for you, which is a good idea, you can save money by only getting the amount the recipe calls for.

When I first started as a chef, I failed miserably with buying the hard version of cheese in order to accommodate recipes that require grated amounts. One time, for a holiday meal, I spent $100 on hard cheese to make Martha’s macaroni and cheese–trust me on this, it’s very possible to buy too much cheese.

Cubano Elbow Macaroni Pasta Salad With Pork and Swiss

Cheesy Cubano salad with bacon, pork and parsley.
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And here we have the Cubanized version of a pasta salad. This continues to show there is a pasta salad variant in every single culture on the planet! The Cubano Macaroni Salad recipe uses Swiss cheese, pork, ham, and condiments of mayo, sweet pickles, and onion.

It’s all you would expect in a crunchy Cubano sandwich but without the toasty bread! 

Ina Garten Gives Us Pasta Salad

Fusilli salad with mozzarella, basil, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
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I wonder if Ina Garten ever gets feta up with Jeffrey, but then again, I watched a lot of her cooking shows back in the day. Sorry, that was a cheesy joke. Anyway, here is a Tomato Feta Pasta Salad recipe by Ina that pairs feta with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, red wine vinegar, and kalamata olives.

The recipe is a win with similar ingredients to Martha’s aforementioned chickpea and mozzarella pasta salad. Except here, while you do use fusilli or another spiral noodle, the only proteins are the diced feta and freshly grated Parmesan cheeses.

Pasta Salad Veganized With Five Types of Vegetables

Mostaccioli salad with veggies, tomatoes, lettuces and sesame seeds.
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Lots of veg in this one as you are using broccoli florets, carrots, red onions, garlic, and cherry tomatoes in this dish of pasta salad. The Easy Vegan Pasta Salad by Tasty is a homerun with ease, that’s for certain! You do have to cook the pasta, but I have a chef’s secret.

Buy the precooked pasta that is preserved in olive oil; it’s easy to heat it up and when it soaks in seasonings and gets chilled, you can hardly tell the difference. This recipe uses canned chickpeas, too, for that protein boost.  

Turkey and Dried Cherries in a Gemelli Twist Pasta Salad

Fusilli Salad with Turkey, bell pepper, and pepper.
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The Turkey and Dried Cherry Salad recipe was throwing me for a loop for a second. I didn’t believe it would be a real pasta salad–but it is! Betty Crocker, you win again! I am seeing another use of Gemelli and they call it twist pasta. I like it and I want to use this type of pasta soon and very soon.

Here you also have a combination that none of these other recipes call for–dried cherries, slivered almonds, and poppy seed dressing. Cubed turkey meat that is already cooked rounds out the flavorings. Sure, if it feels Thanksgiving-like you can whip this up with turkey day leftovers.

Otherwise, be glad it’s not Black Friday and you have to stress-shop for the holiday gifting season!

Make My Polynesian Pasta Salad With Spam and Pineapple

Polynesian elbow salad with celery, bell pepper, onions and pepper.
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I am a huge fan of the Polynesian Sauce at Chic-fil-A–huge fan, that is a great sweet and sour sauce type dipper. So I was very excited to find this Polynesian-Inspired Macaroni Salad recipe. The recipe is Spam ham-based, and I can get down on some Spam–the other ham but in a can.

Along with Spam, which is also a very Hawaiian feeling, the recipe calls to use water chestnuts, pineapple, and green onions or scallions. The sauce comes from an interesting place to be Polynesian, though. You use mayo, ground mustard, and sugar!  

Red Grapes and Poppy Seed Dressing Pasta Salad

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This is a long title for a simple salad–the Chicken Pasta Salad with Grapes and Poppy Seed Dressing. Take out six items from the pantry and fridge including precooked, cubed chicken, which could be canned. Poppyseed dressing makes the sauce simple.

Some red grapes and celery are the fresh flavor packers in this mix, while you use that Suddenly Salad classic pasta salad mix. This eliminates having to hunt down some spare pasta, while the mix also comes with additional flavorings.

Chicken Tortellini Pasta Salad With Black-Eyed Peas and Corn

Tortellini salad with cherry tomatoes, cheese and arugula.
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The Southern Living Chicken Tortellini Salad recipe is something special indeed. Anytime I see black-eyed peas, I feel a lick of good luck coming on! These are the quintessential good luck peas, after all, in the South, especially on New Year.

Meanwhile, this recipe also uses freshly toasted pecans–another Southern delicacy–and an ear of corn cut straight off of the cob. It’s truly one of those fresh from the garden type recipes. This would work well for a farm-to-table menu in the summer for sure!

Some Like It Super Hot Bacon Pasta Salad

Fusilli salad with bacon, arugula and cheese in a gray bowl.
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Finally but not least, we have Betty back again with her Hot Bacon and Pasta Salad. This is a doozy. If you are not vegan and are able to eat the pork, I say bring it on! The pasta salad starts with crisping up four slices of bacon, and cut into pieces. Better make it eight, since you’ll be snacking on a few.

The recipe also uses the pear fruit, something unique to the other recipes for pasta salad in this recipe roundup. By the way, those bacon drippings you should have reserved from the bacon in this recipe go right back into it–by way of the dressing!