Italian Pasta Salad

4.97 from 88 votes

This cold, creamy Italian pasta salad is meat-free and combines fresh veggies, mozzarella, and with a zesty, tangy Greek yogurt dressing.

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Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious, easy-to-make staple side dish for any gathering! Tricolor rotini pasta, fresh veggies, and bite-sized mozzarella balls, all tossed in a zesty yet creamy Greek yogurt dressing. Simple yet so good, this vegetarian Italian Pasta Salad recipe is the kind of dish that both impresses guests and adds a vibrant touch to any BBQ, picnic, or potluck.

Italian pasta salad in a large serving bowl with a spoon dipped in a serving plates nearby.
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This Italian Pasta Salad doesn’t have to be a companion to your main course; it’s also a great base for a main! This recipe is vegetarian but that doesn’t mean you can’t toss in some grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon, and it makes a great lunch or light dinner! That’s the beauty of this salad. It’s flexible and adapts to your needs and preferences. The versatility of this cold Italian Pasta Salad makes it a surefire hit, regardless of the occasion.

This recipe was part of our June 2023 Cooking Challenge! Thank you for joining us in making this delicious recipe and the chance to win a prize!

Why you’ll love this cold Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Full of Flavor: The Greek yogurt-based dressing is tangy, creamy, and packed with flavor, making this pasta salad a delight to the senses. Each bite reveals the taste of fresh vegetables, the richness of the mozzarella, and the herb-infused dressing.
  • Easy to Make: With simple, readily available ingredients and uncomplicated steps, this pasta salad recipe is something you can whip up without stress. It’s a testament that gourmet taste doesn’t always require complicated techniques or rare ingredients.
  • Cost-Effective: Tasked with bringing a side to an event? Pasta salad is a great option! You can feed a crowd without breaking the bank, making it an excellent choice for large gatherings without sacrificing taste.

Ingredients to make vegetarian Italian Pasta Salad

  • Rotini pasta: You can use traditional rotini or tri-colored for extra color.
  • Greek yogurt: The base of the homemade dressing is used to create a satisfying creamy flavor and texture.
  • Oil & Vinegar: Olive oil and red wine vinegar help balance the dressing and give it that zesty flavor.
  • Spices: Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper are all used to give this pasta salad it’s classic Italian twist. Add other spices and seasonings you have on hand to create even more flavor.
  • Garlic & Shallots: These provide a pungent flavor to the dressing and help round out all of the other flavors.
  • Vegetables: Bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, and olives, bring a burst of color and fresh flavor to this delicious salad.
  • Mozzarella balls: Fresh mozzarella balls give this Italian pasta salad a delicious creaminess.
Ingredients before prepping: english cucumber, bowl of cherry tomatoes, bowl of tricolor rotini, small bowls of seasoning, vinagar, yogurt, mozzerella balls, and sliced black olives, green bell pepper, shallot, and olive oil.

How to make creamy Italian pasta salad

  1. In a glass bowl, add the Greek yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, shallot, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk the dressing until smooth and emulsified.
  3. Combine the dressing with the cooked pasta. Top with olives, bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese.
  4. Toss until everything is combined and evenly coated in the dressing.
4 image collage making recipe: 1- dressing ingredients added to a bowl before combing, 2- after combining to show a creamy dressing, 3- pasta and vegetables in a serving bowl, prepped and seperated, 4- pasta salad after tossing together with dressing.

Tips for making the best zesty Italian pasta salad

  1. Chill Before Serving: Allowing the salad to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving helps the flavors to meld together. The chilling time gives the pasta and veggies a chance to soak up the dressing and the flavors to fully develop. If you have the time, make it ahead – it’s one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.
  2. Pasta Cooking Tips: Make sure to cook the pasta al dente (firm to the bite). Overcooked pasta can become mushy and lose its shape when mixed with the dressing and other ingredients. Remember also to salt your pasta water—it adds flavor to the pasta.
  3. Add the dressing to the pasta while warm: It’s best to dress the pasta while it’s still warm because it absorbs more flavor this way. However, don’t add the fresh veggies and cheese until the pasta has cooled down to avoid wilting or melting.
  4. Use a blender for a smoother dressing. If you chop the shallots finely, the dressing won’t come out chunky, but for an ultra-smooth consistency, you can make the creamy Italian dressing in the blender.
  • Experiment with different vegetables. Feel free to add other vegetables like mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers for some extra flavor.
  • No Greek Yogurt? If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use mayonnaise or sour cream as a substitute. Or, for a dairy-free version, use a plant-based yogurt.
  • Try other pasta. You can use any type of pasta to make this Italian pasta salad. Penne, bowtie, macaroni, and shells all work well in this dish.
  • Swap out the mozzarella. If mozzarella balls aren’t available, cubes of fresh mozzarella, feta cheese, or even chunks of sharp cheddar can work well in this salad.
  • Add fresh Herbs: Fresh basil, parsley, or even a handful of arugula can add an additional layer of flavor.

What to Serve with Your Italian Pasta Salad

Final dish of Italian pasta salad with fresh cut veggies, cheese, and fresh herbs.

How to store Pasta Salad

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag and kept in the refrigerator. Cold Italian pasta salad is the best pasta salad, so it can be eaten right out of the fridge.

How long will pasta salad last in the fridge?

It will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to stir and mix it before serving.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know when my pasta is ready to drain?

It’s important to cook your pasta until it is al dente or just tender. To test for doneness, lift a piece of pasta from the boiling water and bite into it. If it is still a bit chewy, you know to leave it in the boiling water a minute longer.

Can I make this pasta salad vegan?

Yes, as written, this recipe is already vegetarian, but you can easily make this Italian pasta salad vegan by using vegan mozzarella and plant-based Greek yogurt in place of their dairy counterparts.

Can I just use bottled Italian dressing instead of making my own?

Sure! If you prefer to use a bottle of Italian salad dressing, you can. To keep it creamy, mix it with the Greek yogurt. You can even use the same ratio¼ cup of Italian dressing to ¾ cup of Greek yogurt.

A serving of Italian pasta salad on a small plate with the serving bowl nearby. A fork is lifting up a bite.

This creamy Italian pasta salad is the perfect side dish for your summer cookouts and potlucks. It’s simple to make and is always a hit with family and friends. With some pasta, fresh veggies, and a zesty homemade dressing, you can create a vegetarian Italian pasta salad that’s full of flavor and will leave everyone begging for more.

More pasta salad recipes:

If you try this feel good Italian Pasta Salad recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

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Italian Pasta Salad

This cold, creamy Italian pasta salad is meat-free and combines fresh veggies, mozzarella, and with a zesty, tangy Greek yogurt dressing.
5 from 88 votes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 270
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes



  • 1 pound tricolor rotini pasta
  • ¾ cup greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus more for pasta water
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 6-ounce can sliced black olives
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • ½ English cucumber diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 8 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls ciliegine size


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and add pasta. Cook according to the package directions, then drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile in a small bowl or jar, make the dressing by whisking Greek yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, shallot, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper until smooth and emulsified.
  • Add the dressing to the cooked pasta, then top with the olives, bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese. Toss until everything is combined and evenly coated in the dressing.
  • Chill before serving to allow the flavors to develop.


  1. Chill Before Serving: Allowing the salad to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving helps the flavors to meld together.
  2. Pasta Cooking Tips: Make sure to cook the pasta al dente (firm to the bite).  Remember also to salt your pasta water—it adds flavor to the pasta.
  3. Add the dressing to the pasta while warm: It’s best to dress the pasta while it’s still warm because it absorbs more flavor this way. However, don’t add the fresh veggies and cheese until the pasta has cooled down to avoid wilting or melting.


Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.001g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 341mg, Potassium: 251mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 441IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 111mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Italian
Course: Pastas, Side Dish

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating


  1. What did I do wrong? I followed directions exactly. I made yesterday in the evening to serve today & it seems dry & def not creamy. The Italian seasoning is a little much as well. I guess I will add a little more yogurt or some olive oil🤷🏻‍♀️

  2. what a lovely salad and so many other different meals I am enjoying doing ♥️☺️ Merci! I love every I have tried so far.

  3. Tasty pasta salad which feels fresh to eat in summer weather. Easy to assemble, will be making again.
    Not US based so hopefully the challenge prizes will be available in Europe soon.

  4. Recipe is easy, delicious, and most importantly, kids approved 😂👍. Perfect combination for summer. Loved it !

  5. Greetings from Slovakia! I have already tried many receipts from your blog and they were always very tasty. I like your page, photos, and tips, nutrition info- great job! Just the measurements l need to convert every time, l would really appreciate also grams, milliliters, etc. I can’t wait to try this receipt, l am preparing one for pasta salad and this one seems to be a nice change, l especially like using of greek yogurt as dressing. On hot days it is great to prepare it in the evening to have lunches for several days.

  6. This italian pasta recipe is delicious. I made twice 🤣 … First, I used mayonnaise. It was creamy and sweet. The second time I used sour cream… Mmmmmm… almost taste like greek yogurt… my husband and I couldn’t stop eating both salads. The next day the salads tasted even better and soooo goodddd….Thank you 👐

  7. I love this cooking challenges. They make me try something new every month, and this is one is spot on as it’s perfect with this heat. The salad is quick to make and very light on the stomach. However it’s unfortunate how only U.S residents can participate even though the prize is digital 🙁
    Hope it will be open internationally soon!

  8. I tried the recipe and i absolutely loved it ! I honestly didn’t expect the dressing to turn out this creamy and rich, I thought yogurt alone is going to be little tangy, but turned out so well. I also used your suggestion of adding sun dried tomatoes and i put in also some tuna and corn. I haven’t eaten something this fresh and tasty for a very long time. Yum!

  9. Talk about a yummy full of flavor Italian Pasta Salad! The dressing was so creamy and full of flavor.

  10. Love the salad! Gave it a extra bump of protein with a small can of chick peas.
    A fabulous filing summer salad.

  11. This is the most refreshing pasta salad. It’s so light and definitely feels like summer. I has only tried pasta salads with Mayo and wanted something with a lighter dressing and this was definitely it and will be my new fav pasta salad!

    1. Hi Elena, you sure can! I do think it tastes better when all the flavors get a chance to meld together!

  12. I love a good old pasta salad. However for this one I had to swap the mozzarella balls for vegan feta and the Greek yoghurt for the vegan yoghurt(for my lastose intolerance tummy) but it was still very yummy.

  13. I’m not usually fan of pasta salads, but this one was so light and refreshing! I loved the light dressing. I topped it with fresh spearmint and it gave it an extra burst of flavor!

  14. This is my first time using Greek yogurt as the dressing for pasta salad. It looks and smells great. It’s a huge salad too.

  15. This was a winner with my hubbie! I made it as written, but added dried salami and it was delicious with some crusty bread. I may increase the amount of dressing next time as mine ended up a little drier than the pictures you posted – maybe it was the brand of greek yogurt I used. Love that you can play with the veggies and the cheeses to make it your own. Thanks for sharing!

  16. This is my new favorite pasta salad! I always prefer salads with creamier dressings and this checks that box perfectly and in a healthy way. The greek yogurt is tangy and creamy and really goes well with all the other ingredients without overpowering them. So fresh and tasty! A keeper in my house for sure!

  17. This salad was so good! I added the whole cucumber for extra veggies and I added tuna. The store didn’t have mozzarella balls so I bought a 12 oz log of fresh mozzarella, chopped it up and added all of it.

  18. Wow, this was really delicious!! I put everything over a few cups of chopped romaine to make it a full lunch. This dressing is bomb!! New favorite.

  19. Absolutely amazing and so easy to make, took it to a dinner party and I think everyone asked for the recipe

  20. Such a fun summer recipe. I love that it adds up protein to my meal. Really enjoyed making this recipe and it came out really good.

  21. Such a great quick and easy lunch! I swapped the olives with sun dried tomatoes and it was delicious!

  22. Made this for a barbecue with my extended family and we all loved it! Will definitely be making this again soon! Thanks!!

  23. Absolutely hits the spot. I ate several servings of this over a few days and it had all the flavor profiles I constantly crave.

  24. I love this take on the Italian pasta salad. It’s the first time I had greek yogurt in the homemade dressing! It was a great idea!! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Wow this looks so good. Having friends over for a BBQ and I’m definitely making this tonight!
    Not sure where to post the picture when done?
    Can’t wait to try it!

  26. Made this as soon as I saw the recipe. Been looking for one where the tanginess of the ingredients don’t absorb and disappear. This one nailed it. Thx Yumna!

  27. This recipe just screams SUMMER! It’s filled with fresh summery ingredients. I chopped broccoli into teeny tiny florets and added it in. It’s super delish!

  28. I made this tonight and was so good. I’ve done a “Greek” pasta salad before but never thought of using yogurt as a dressing! This reminds me of the pasta and yogurt with pine nuts growing up.

  29. What an amazing salad. I love cold pasta salad, it makes easy to meal prep and grab go lunches on days where there is time crunch and you want to still eat home cooked
    healthy meal. Perfect for potluck for putting together with available ingredients at home and make and keep it ready ahead of time. It ticks all boxes for me for being healthy and tasty bulk meal. I can’t get enough of this salad. Yum!!

  30. I love the crunch, flavor from the veggies and vinegar! It is a favorite summer favorite but was nervous to try! Haha and it is SO GOOD.

  31. I love all your recipes! As an Arab who lives in the US I feel like your recipes speak to me!
    This is one of my favorite salads from your page! Instead of mozzarella balls, I use hearts of palms and it tastes exquisite!!

  32. Great recepy! I’m allways looking for cold options to take as a lunch and these one is amazing! Full of veggies and protein. I don’t really like olives, do you have any suggestions to add more veggies?

    1. Thank you so much, Andrea. You can try adding in mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers for some extra flavor!

  33. I made this recipe with a little addition, just add dill in the dressing and wow. It turned out really delicious.

    1. You’re so welcome, Andrew. You will have to let me know what you think of it after you make it!

  34. So yummy! I used sun dried tomatoes in lieu of the olives and it was spectacular! Will make again!

  35. This recipe is amazing & reminds me of the pasta salad my mom used to make for all BBQs & picnics!

    1. So glad that this recipe came to my inbox today. Going to a picnic / pool party today so I made this to take along with me !!

      Also making your yogurt bark and blueberry / chocolate clusters to tuck away in the freezer for quick little sweet treat.

      Thanks for all the yummy recipes!!

  36. Great recipe for the summer and not too time consuming plus it was a big winner with the kids!

  37. This is such a delicious salad and so easy to make! It was also really great and a successful alternative for some of my friends who don’t like mayo… Big hit! We already make Yumna’s tabbouleh all the time but this is definitely an excellent addition to the salad rotation! Thank you Yumna!

  38. This is such an easy and yummy pasta salad! I substituted corn and black beans for the olives and green pepper to suit the tastes in my house, but it was perfect! Thanks for the amazing recipe, everyone loved it!

  39. I am definitely going to try this . I have one question . I don’t have red wine vinegar what can I use instead? I will repost when I make it 🥰

    1. You can use apple cider, balsamic, or even regular white vinegar if you prefer. Each of these will change the flavor profile some of the dressing. Hope you enjoy!

  40. Awesome recipe! The salad dressing is to die for, probably the best tasting dressing I’ve ever made!