Fourteen quick, tasty pasta salad ideas for backyard parties or weeknight sides.
Spicy Thai Shrimp Soba Salad
This sweet and spicy salad is packed with fresh flavor thanks to fresh mint leaves, Thai basil, and freshly-squeezed lime juice. Here’s a tip: leave the shells on the shrimp, which will keep the shrimp juicy after poaching. Serve with a dry white or sparkling wine.
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Tapas-Style Pasta Salad
This recipe is all about highlighting bold Spanish flavors. The sherry vinegar cuts through the richness of the Manchego cheese and dry-cured Spanish chorizo, while the salty fried almonds provide irresistible crunch. Cutting everything into similar sizes makes it easy to grab every ingredient in one bite.
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Southwestern Pasta Salad
The lime-avocado dressing in this addictive salad provides a creamy texture and rich flavor—no mayo needed. Look for the freshest and sweetest tomatoes you can find, which will brighten up the dish. And when corn isn’t in season, frozen and thawed is a perfectly good substitute. Serve with a light beer and grilled chicken.
Get the Recipe: Southwestern Pasta Salad
Niçoise Pasta Salad
This dish tastes just like a classic Nicoise salad, but in pasta form. The slightly-sweet dressing pairs well with the pickled beans and radishes. To ensure perfectly cooked eggs, transfer them immediately to an ice bath after cooking. To brighten up leftovers, toss with extra dressing.
Get the Recipe: Nicoise Pasta Salad
Moroccan Couscous Salad
Served with grilled chicken and crusty bread, this salad is the perfect complement to a flavorful weeknight dinner. No need to make perfect cuts of cauliflower—in fact, we used our hands to break down the cauliflower after removing the leaves, which gives the florets a more natural look. Note: Pearled couscous is often labeled “Israeli couscous.”
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Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
The grilled vegetables give this salad a delicious charred flavor, while the tomato vinaigrette provides acidity and richness. To make cleanup easier and prevent burning, roast the tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Serve with grilled crusty bread and a glass of cold beer.
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Pasta Salad With Salami and Celery
Perfect for a picnic, this 4-ingredient salad stars meaty salami paired with celery for freshness and crunch. We love tubular penne for pasta salads, but any short noodle will work well. This would also be great served at backyard parties, or for a weeknight dinner side.
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Pasta Salad With Shrimp, Corn, and Tarragon
Add a luxurious touch to plain pasta with cooked shrimp, sweet corn, and a touch of mayonnaise. Everything comes together in one bowl: simply toss the pasta with the shrimp, corn, mayo, tarragon, and salt and pepper.
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Pasta Salad With Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Chilies
This creation is a great go-to vegetarian dish for summer parties. A thinly sliced red pepper adds heat to the mild goat cheese and juicy tomatoes. Instead of buying herb goat cheese, feel free to add in herbs from your garden, such as thyme or basil.
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This easy summery side offers a delicious symphony of flavors, thanks to lemon juice and zest, chopped anchovy fillets, and chopped parsley. Any tomato variety will work in this recipe. Just remember to keep tomatoes unwashed and at room temperature. Storing them in the refrigerator can make them mealy.
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Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
Want to get a leg up on dinner? Keep a bulk pack of flavorful, budget-friendly chicken thighs in the freezer, which make it easy to whip up a recipe like this one. Chopped kalamata olives give this hearty meal-in-a-bowl a briny bite, and store-bought pesto keeps prep to a minimum.
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Roasted Cherry Tomato and Ricotta Pasta Salad
When filled with fresh, colorful vegetables of summer, this whole-meal salad becomes stick-to-your ribs substantial thanks to piles of tender pasta. Roasting the tomatoes makes them soft and extra sweet—and cooking the pasta and tomatoes in advance means you can assemble the dish in no time.
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Parmesan Pasta Salad
You need minimal ingredients to create this crowdpleasing side—pasta shells, toamtoes, cheese, and chives. It’s the perfect dish for a backyard campout. Serve alongside sausage heros, campfire popcorn satchels, and s’mores.
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Pasta Salad With Salami and Mozzarella
Dress up short pasta with salami, chopped spinach, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. This is one of our favorite brown-bag lunches, because it feels like you’re picnicking, even when you’re stuck at your desk. Transport the pasta mixture and vinaigrette separately; drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette before serving.
Get the Recipe: Pasta Salad With Salami and Mozzarella