Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

This easy pasta salad recipe is the perfect side dish for a summer picnic or gathering! Uses all fresh ingredients, and can be made a day ahead.

rotini pasta salad recipe in bowl

This pasta salad recipe has been a favorite of my family for years. I posted it here on my blog way back in 2013, but wanted to share it again with a printable recipe. There are updated images and all sorts of tips. It’s one of those dishes that, for some reason, I only make in the summer. Which is crazy, because it would be a perfect side dish for the holidays.

Why This Recipe Is Amazing

This recipe is one my mom made when I was growing up, so it’s definitely tried and true. I’ve been making it for over 40 years, and it’s perfect every time. It’s makes a huge bowl, and is actually better the second day, so making it ahead is no problem…and the leftovers are absolutely delicious. The best thing about this cold pasta salad recipe is, by far, the flavor.

pasta salad recipe ingredients

Ingredient Notes

The measurements for the vegetables are simply for guidance. You can use as much or as little of each vegetable as you like. Substitutions and/or additions can be made for the ones listed in the recipe. Here are some ideas:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • bell pepper
  • black olives
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • fresh herbs
  • garlic
pasta salad ingredients in bowl

Don’t skip these two ingredients: the sweet onion and hard boiled eggs. The onion adds a very special taste, and the creaminess of the hard boiled eggs help all the other ingredients meld together.

Any type of pasta can be used. Our favorites are rotini and penne, but we’ve also used farfalle and fusilli. Using elbow pasta would make this more of a traditional macaroni salad.

I would not recommend using anything other than Marzetti’s Slaw Dressing. It’s what makes the taste so wonderful and unique. We have tried Marzetti’s “light” version, and it’s very good, although not quite the same.

Adding Protein

Although it would definitely change the taste, this pasta salad can be turned into a main course by simply adding any combination of meat and/or cheese.

  • chicken
  • salami
  • ham
  • feta cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • colby cheese

Is it better to make pasta salad the night before?

Yes! Pasta absorbs any liquid or dressing, especially when it’s refrigerated for a long period of time. By making this easy pasta salad the night before, all the flavors have ample time to blend together. Plus it’s always a good thing to get part of a meal made ahead.

jar of marzetti's slaw dressing

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. I add salt and olive oil to the boiling water. Drain when finished cooking.
  • Put prepared tomatoes, onion, carrots, cucumber, and eggs into a large bowl.
  • Pour about 1/2 of the jar of Marzetti dressing on the chopped veggies/eggs.
  • Stir to coat.
  • Add pasta and enough Marzetti dressing to coat the pasta. Keep stirring until it’s all mixed together well.
  • Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours, longer is better.
  • Can be made a day ahead. If pasta soaks up too much of the dressing, just add more and stir well.
pasta salad in bowl cropped 2023
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Easy Pasta Salad Tips

  • Begin by putting the pasta water on the stove, and prepare to cook the eggs. While all that is boiling, begin chopping. By the time the pasta is finished and the eggs are done, you will have most of your chopping out of the way.
  • My mom never removed the seeds from the tomatoes, but sometimes I do. If it’s summer, and the tomatoes are nice and meaty, there is no need. Sometimes the seeds are very runny, so I simply slice them out before chopping. 
  • If you are generous with the salt in the pasta water, there should be no reason to add additional salt and pepper. This pasta salad gets plenty of taste from the dressing.
  • The Marzetti Slaw Dressing can be found in the salad dressing and mayo aisle at the grocery store.  
  • This easy pasta salad recipe stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Keep it in an airtight container, and if the pasta soaks up the dressing, just add more. 

How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

rotini pasta salad recipe in bowl

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

This easy pasta salad recipe is the perfect side dish for a summer picnic or gathering! Uses all fresh ingredients and can be made a day ahead.
Rate this Recipe Print Recipe Pin Recipe
4.75 from 27 votes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Pasta cooking time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rotini pasta
  • 1/2 large sweet onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup cucumber (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (seeded if desired and chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 eggs (hard boiled and chopped)
  • 16 oz. Marzetti Slaw Dressing (The jar is 24 oz. You won't use the whole thing)

Instructions

  • In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. I add salt and olive oil to the boiling water. Drain when finished cooking.
  • Put prepared tomatoes, onion, carrots, cucumber, and eggs into a large bowl.
  • Pour about 1/2 of the jar of Marzetti dressing on the chopped veggies/eggs.
  • Stir to coat.
  • Add pasta and enough Marzetti dressing to coat the pasta. Keep stirring until it's all mixed together well.
  • Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours, longer is better.
  • Can be made a day ahead. If pasta soaks up too much of the dressing, just add more and stir well.

Notes

If using an English cucumber, there is no need to remove the peel.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1646IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe?Follow me at @onsuttonplace

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Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. Oh you did it again. The pasta salad is not exactly what I am used to but yours will be at our wedding reception. Potato Salad, baked beans, corn on the cob and caprese salad in pita bread. Main is chicken and steak Shish cabobs. Naked 5 layer purple ombré cake. His favorite color is purple. I am so excited to get in the new house so I can start making decorations and recipes. Thank you so much. PS: I have the 2013 recipe.

  2. Rebecca Turner, says:

    Thanks, Ann, for sharing this delicious recipe! I made it today. I added a little celery and a chicken breast for a complete meal. I’m feeding my husband and my elderly parents. We all enjoyed it and I will definitely make it again! 😊

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Great idea about adding the chicken!

  3. Sandra purzycki says:

    Thank you for sharing so many good things with all of us.
    Your recipe for your Mom’s pasta salad sounds delicious, can’t wait to make it this weekend!!

  4. This recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Thank You!

  5. Liz @ Infuse With Liz says:

    I made this today and it was great! I never thought about using Marzetti’s Slaw dressing for a pasta salad. I usually just add mayonnaise or (miracle whip) salad dressing. My hubby was much impressed and I will definitely be using this recipe again and again.

  6. Kelley Woerther says:

    I cannot wait to try the pasta salad!

  7. Sounds yummy. Can’t wait to try! Thank you!

  8. Debbie refresh restyle says:

    I love pasta salad and this looks so good!
    Debbie

  9. Pingback: Strawberry Crisp - On Sutton Place
  10. Pingback: Summer Pasta Salad Recipe - Moms Need To Know ™
  11. Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog says:

    Looks great, Ann!

  12. I’ll have to try this with some Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta! Yum!

  13. Thanks for making the recipe printable. I can’t wait to make it.

  14. Ricki Jill Treleaven says:

    I love pasta salad in the summer. We like taking it on the boat. Bookmarked it! Thanks, Ann! I need to find the dressing. Never tried it before!

    xo,
    RJ

    1. Marzettis is a wonderful tasting sauce. Like mayo but tastier.

  15. That looks good, Anne, my hubby loves pasta salads in the summer time. Hugs, cindy

  16. debbiedoos says:

    Sounds delish Ann! I love a good pasta salad and this looks like a good one!

  17. Mary Alice Patterson says:

    We love pasta salads for summer too, and this one looks so good and super easy! My kind of recipe.
    Mary Alice

  18. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    Ann, I remember when you first posted this recipe! That was before Pinterest, and I copied down the recipe! So today I pinned it for future reference. Looks delicious!

  19. Anne Boykin says:

    Hi Ann, Well I don’t usually try recipes but I think I’ll give this one a try. Sure sounds good. Thanks for your lovely blog!

  20. Lisa at Texas Decor says:

    This sounds so good! I’ll have to try that Marzetti dressing. I know lots of people that love it. This is the perfect “anytime” salad recipe. My hubby will probably want me to add salami to it. LOL! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  21. This salad looks delicious. I will have to try making it. I love Marzetti’s dressing.

  22. This is perfect! My tastebuds have been craving something like this so Im heading straight to the grocrey after work to make me some fabulous pasta!

  23. Kim @ Curtain Queen says:

    This looks so refreshing! I’ve printed it, pinned it, and this one’s not getting away from me! Thanks, Ann. :-)
    His Blessings,
    Kim

  24. Lorraine@Miss Flibbertigibbet says:

    Looks yummy! I’ve had this one many times and Marzetti’s dressing makes it so easy to put together! This is the time of year when I’ll make some cold salads early in the day and just throw burgers or chicken on the grill for a quick dinner! Leaves me free to work to the last minute!

  25. Love this recipe, so glad it is printable:) Pinning!

  26. There is something about pasta salad that says summer to me. This sounds like a great recipe to try. Summer will be here before we know it! Enjoy your week!

    Michelle. thebashfulnest.blogspot.com

  27. this sounds amazing, I’m not familiar with that dressing, we probably don’t have it here in Canada,

  28. Yum, I love to make these types of salads and keep for several days. Just seems that the more time it sits the taste is better. Thanks for sharing. I love Marzetti dressings.