This easy pasta salad recipe is the perfect side salad for any occasion. Its delicious combination of textures and flavors, all brought together with a delicious homemade caesar dressing, makes it a winner. 

Adding pasta to a salad is the perfect way to add heartiness to a classic salad. Our caesar pasta salad has quickly become one of our favorites, along with our italian pasta salad

A bowl of creamy pasta salad with a sliver spoon in it.

Pasta can be simple, or you can load it up! Along with the pasta shells, we have crisp cucumbers and juicy tomatoes, and our personal touch is small cheese squares. Crunchy bacon is another unique addition that adds so much texture and flavor to this salad. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make ahead. This is the best pasta salad to prep in advance and dress when ready to serve. 
  • Bbq ready. This side dish pairs perfectly with any grilled meat recipe making for the perfect bbq potluck. 
  • Customizable. Add all of your favorite vegetables to this salad to make it your own!

Ingredients for Pasta Salad

Simple ingredients make this the most easy and delicious salad:

  • Pasta – mini elbow pasta makes the perfect small pasta shape for this pasta salad. 
  • Dressing – our homemade caesar dressing is super easy and makes a delicious pasta salad dressing.
  • Vegetables – a delicious combination of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. 
  • Bacon – Our air-fried bacon recipe makes this salad extra delicious.
  • Cheese – colby jack cheese, cubed. You can also use parmesan cheese or even mozzarella, as in our easy caprese salad.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.

Substitutions and Variations

All of the add-ins, substitutions, and different variations to the recipe you want to make.

  • Add protein: Make this salad extra hearty by adding pan-seared chicken to the top! 
  • Dressing: This salad would taste incredible with a homemade avocado ranch dressing and even our easy italian dressing.

How to Make Pasta Salad

It doesn’t get simpler than this salad recipe.

  1. Cook the pasta: Boil the pasta in a large pot of salt water, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Dressing: To a small jar, add all the dressing ingredients and mix to combine. 
  3. Prep ingredients: While the pasta is boiling, chop up the vegetables. Our air-fried bacon is the perfect, mess-free bacon recipe.
  4. Assemble: Add everything to a large salad bowl and top with salad dressing. Toss to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to serve! 

Pro tip: This salad tastes best when sitting in the fridge for about an hour. This gives the pasta a chance to soak in all that dressing. 

Make Ahead:

To make the salad in advance, prep everything and add to your serving bowl, but don’t mix the salad. Keep the salad dressing in a separate jar. Then, before serving, add the dressing and toss to combine.

A glass bowl with the unmixed pasta salad.

Expert Tips:

  • Don’t be shy with the dressing: At first glance, it might seem like a lot of dressing, but the pasta will continue to absorb the dressing as it sits. Adding a bit of extra dressing helps keep the salad moist! 
  • Uniform ingredients: To get the best bite, it is important to cut the ingredients uniformly in size. Keeping everything the same size ensures you get everything in one bite!
  • Don’t overcook the pasta: Once the pasta is cooked, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Serving Suggestions

Recipe FAQs

Can I use store-bought dressing?

You can absolutely use a store-bought caesar dressing as a substitute if you want to shortcut your time prepping.

Can this salad be made in advance?

This is the perfect salad to make in advance. Simply assemble the salad without the dressing.

Do I have to rinse the pasta?

Rinsing the pasta helps to prevent the pasta from overcooking and then sticking to each other, so it is a necessary step. 

Can this pasta salad be made gluten-free?

Yes, use your favorite gluten-free pasta to make this the perfect salad for you!

Store & Reheat

  • Storage. Store leftovers of this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Freeze. We do not recommend freezing this salad.

More Salad Recipes

If you enjoyed this easy pasta salad recipe, be sure to try our other popular salad recipes; here are some of our favorites:

If you tried this easy pasta salad recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below – we appreciate it!

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Author: Valentina
Print
5 from 10 votes
This easy pasta salad recipe makes the most perfect simple, and delicious side salad. This salad is loaded with tasty pasta and crisp vegetables. The homemade dressing ties everything together, making the perfect creamy pasta salad.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

pasta salad-

  • 6 oz uncooked mini pasta shells
  • 2 mini cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz colby jack cheese, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 8 oz bacon, cooked

pasta salad dressing-

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • In a jar or a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and set aside.
  • Air fry the bacon and cut into small pieces.
  • Cut the vegetables into small bite-sized pieces.
  • Cube the cheese into uniform bite-sized pieces.
  • To a large salad bowl, add all the ingredients. Top with the dressing and toss thoroughly to incorporate.
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Notes

  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 
  • To make in advance, assemble the salad without the dressing and store in the fridge. Add the dressing when ready to serve the salad. 

Nutrition

576kcal Calories28g Carbs16g Protein45g Fat13g Saturated Fat59mg Cholesterol699mg Sodium377mg Potassium2g Fiber4g Sugar485IU Vitamin A12mg Vitamin C224mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 576 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Fat 45g69%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Cholesterol 59mg20%
Sodium 699mg30%
Potassium 377mg11%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 485IU10%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 224mg22%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
(The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)