Tahini Pasta Salad

5 from 3 votes

Packed with fresh veggies, chickpeas, and healthy fats, this tahini pasta salad is delicious, filling, and easy to make!

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Tahini Pasta Salad is perfect for when you’re looking for an easy side dish or cold pasta salad to bring to a party that no one else will have thought of! It’s fresh and full of flavor, with rotini pasta, colorful vegetables, and hearty chickpeas. The tahini dressing is the real MVP here. Just a few ingredients whisked together give this salad a creamy but light feel. If you’ve been on the hunt for a pasta salad without mayonnaise that still tastes amazing, this is it!

Overhead of a small bowl of tahini pasta salad with dressing and a serving bowl of the salad nearby.
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Fresh veggies, tender pasta, and a tasty dressing–what’s not to love about cold pasta salad? Nothing in my book! In this tahini pasta salad recipe, I’ve combined Greek and Middle Eastern flavors for a unique spin on a summer favorite that is so good! I like to make the tahini dressing while the pasta’s boiling – it’s just tahini, lemon, garlic, and yogurt mixed up until it’s smooth. Sumac adds a nice little pop, but don’t sweat it if you don’t have any. Once the pasta’s done, I toss it all together and stick it in the fridge. It’s one of those dishes that gets even better after it chills for a bit, and it’s solid for meal prep or to bring to a friend’s place. It’s just easy, which is what I love about it.

Recipe at a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: American with Middle Eastern influence
Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Tangy with notes of toasted sesame
Skill Level: Beginner

Ingredients to Make Tahini Pasta Salad

Ingredients to make recipe: Rotini pasta, chickpeas, cucumbers, bell pepper, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh parsley, tahini, lemon, garlic, water, Greek yogurt, sumac, salt, and black pepper.
  • Pasta: I love to use rotini in this pasta salad, but feel free to use another favorite medium pasta, such as farfalle (bow-tie pasta), elbows, or penne. 
  • Chickpeas: Use one can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. This equates to about 1 ¾ cups of cooked chickpeas. 
  • Persian cucumbers: Petite Persian cucumbers are wonderfully crisp with tender skin and less seeds than some other cucumbers. If you can’t find them, you can swap in half an English cucumber or one standard medium-size cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced.
  • Green bell pepper: Crisp and refreshing diced green bell peppers add crunchy texture to the salad. 
  • Grape tomatoes: Grape tomatoes add vibrant color and a juicy bite. Halved cherry tomatoes will also work. 
  • Kalamata olives: Briny kalamata olives bring a welcome salty note.
  • Dressing: You’ll need tahini, lemon juice, garlic, greek yogurt, sumac, salt and pepper. The tahini makes it creamy and nutty which is really well balanced with the tangy greek yogurt, garlic and fresh lemon juice. Sumac adds a fruity tangy flavor but you can swap with lemon zest or lemon pepper.
  • Use whole wheat pasta: The nutty flavors of whole wheat pasta pair well with the earthy tahini pasta salad dressing. 
  • Make it gluten-free: Use your favorite medium pasta for a gluten-free tahini pasta salad. Brown rice pasta works particularly well in pasta salads. 
  • Swap the veggies: This easy tahini pasta salad is simple to customize with your favorite vegetables. Add lightly steamed asparagus and diced artichoke hearts for a springy spin; roasted butternut squash and kale would be great in a winter version. 
  • Add more herbs: Try tahini pasta salad with fresh dill or fresh basil in addition to, or in place of, the parsley. Or, if you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand, a generous pinch of dried thyme and/or dried oregano would be delicious.

How to Make Tahini Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the pasta, drain it, and pour it into a large bowl.
  2. Mix up the dressing and pour it over the cooked pasta.
  3. Add the chickpeas, cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, and parsley.
  4. Toss until the pasta and veggies are coated with the dressing.
4-image collage of making the recipe: 1 - Cooked pasta in a bowl; 2 - Dressing added before mixing; 3 - Chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and parsley added; 4 - After tossing together.

Tips for Making the Best Cold Pasta Salad

  1. Salt the pasta water: To enhance the flavor of the pasta, add a generous pinch of salt to the water before adding the pasta.
  2. Cook pasta until just past al dente: If you overcook it, you risk pasta that will fall apart in the salad. 
  3. Don’t rinse the pasta: For the best pasta salad, don’t rinse the pasta after cooking and draining. Rinsing removes the starches that help the dressing cling to the pasta. 
  4. Chill before serving: Leaving pasta salad in the fridge for a bit before serving will allow the flavors to develop, resulting in the most delicious tahini pasta salad.
  5. Make-ahead tip: For the best texture, if you’re making your pasta salad more than a day or two ahead of time, keep the dressing separate and mix it into the pasta salad a few hours before serving.
Tahini dressing being poured onto a big bowl of tahini pasta salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, chickpeas, and olives.

What to Serve With Simple Tahini Pasta Salad

You can, of course, serve this pasta salad as an entrée if you’re craving a light and fresh vegetarian meal! If you want to serve this salad alongside chicken, beef, lamb, or a plant-based protein, try one of these recipes:

How to Store Pasta Salad

Leftover pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How Long Will Tahini Pasta Salad Last in the Fridge?

It will last up to three days in the refrigerator, but this pasta salad tastes best when it’s eaten the day you made it or the day after.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my pasta salad dry?

Sometimes, the pasta will continue to soak up the dressing after it sits. To resolve this problem, make up another batch of the dressing and add some to your salad until it’s as creamy as you’d like it.

Why is my tahini bitter?

Depending on the brand of tahini used, some are more bitter than others. Also, you may want to check the date on your tahini, and make sure it is still fresh. To counteract some of the bitterness, you can try adding a teaspoon of pure maple syrup or honey to the dressing.

Why is my pasta salad bland?

A couple of tricks can help prevent bland pasta salad. First, salt your pasta water before adding the pasta to cook. Next, add flavorful ingredients in your dressing like with this tahini pasta salad recipe. Finally, after the salad is assembled, taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

A fork scooping up a bite of tahini pasta salad from a small bowl.

With a variety of fresh flavors, colors, and textures, tahini pasta salad is a crowd-pleasing side dish that’s so delicious! It’s easy to make, done in 20 minutes, and so much more interesting than your standard pasta salad. I love that it brings that classic pasta salad creaminess to the table without mayonnaise, for a lighter-tasting option everyone will love!

More Salad & Power Bowl Recipes:

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Tahini Pasta Salad

Packed with fresh veggies, chickpeas, and healthy fats, this tahini pasta salad is delicious, filling, and easy to make!
5 from 3 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Salads
Calories 178
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
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For the Salad

  • 8 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 Persian cucumbers chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the Dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • 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 the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic until well combined. Gradually add water to the mixture until well blended. Stir in the greek yogurt, sumac, salt, and pepper, and continue to whisk until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Add the dressing to the cooked pasta, then top with the chickpeas, cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. Toss until everything is combined and evenly coated in the dressing.
  • Chill for 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop.


Storage: Leftover tahini pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to three days in the refrigerator, but it tastes best when it’s eaten the day you made it or the day after.


Serving: 2cups, Calories: 178kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 0.3mg, Sodium: 222mg, Potassium: 309mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 669IU, Vitamin C: 24mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 1mg

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

Course: Salads

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Recipe Rating


  1. Laura says:

    Don’t care for chickpeas,is there a substitute you can recommend.

    1. Yumna says:

      You could swap for any bean you prefer.

  2. Carol Roberts says:

    Any thought on How can you make this dairy free?

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi Carol! Sure, you can just omit the yogurt. Hope you enjoy it!