Easy Pasta Salad

This fresh, easy pasta salad recipe comes together in under 30 minutes! Tossed in a tangy vinaigrette & filled with veggies, it's a sure cookout hit.

Best Pasta Salad in a serving dish

Today’s recipe is a picnic-perfect pasta salad! Every cookout needs a great pasta salad, and this is the one that I’ll be making all summer long. It comes together in no time, it’s full of fresh ingredients, and it packs a flavorful punch.

I took extra care to make sure that all of this week’s recipes are not just easy, but also easy to make in advance… because I totally get that you don’t want to be futzing with your salad when you could be spending time outside with your friends.

Note: if you do decide to make this in advance, toss on some whole basil leaves before serving to make your salad instantly prettier.

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

Pasta Salad Ingredients

I’ve made many pasta salads before (see here and here), but I realized that I didn’t have a really good classic pasta salad with a vinaigrette dressing on the site. This recipe is easy and fresh – along with the pasta, I toss in juicy cherry tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, a generous handful of arugula, chickpeas for protein, pine nuts & little cucumbers for crunch, and lots of fresh parsley and basil.

The dressing is easy to make: it’s a zesty mix of olive oil, lemon, garlic, Dijon, herbs & seasonings  – I like to use herbes de Provence but Italian seasoning would be equally good in its place.

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

How to Make Pasta Salad

Making this recipe is a breeze! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain it, toss it with some olive oil, and set it aside to cool.
  2. Chop your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mince the parsley, and crumble the feta.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. And toss everything together in a big bowl! Season to taste and dig in.

How to make pasta salad

My Best Pasta Salad Tips

  • Cook your pasta a little longer than normal. It should be just a tad past al dente (but not mushy) so that the pasta stays soft when it cools. I find that the higher time range listed on box instructions is usually just about right for pasta salad.
  • Let your pasta cool completely before tossing it with the other ingredients. If it’s still warm, the hot pasta will start to cook and wilt the veggies. No one’s a fan of warm cucumber, so make sure you’re tossing cold pasta into this dish.
  • Save some herbs for garnish! This pasta salad recipe is a great one to make ahead, but if you do, save some of the herbs and pine nuts for garnish. The pine nuts will keep their crunchy texture and the herbs will be extra fresh, pretty, and flavorful.
  • Taste and adjust. Like most salad recipes, this one is super flexible, so be sure to taste and adjust it to your liking before serving. Add more lemon if you prefer a tangier salad, toss in more greens if you’re all about the veggies, and always, always salt to taste.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

This pasta salad is fantastic as-is, but feel free to change it up to match your tastes or the ingredients in your pantry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it vegan! Use olives or sun dried tomatoes in place of the feta.
  • Make it gluten-free! Use gluten-free pasta or quinoa in place of traditional noodles.
  • Go Greek. To make this recipe more of a Greek pasta salad, add kalamata or black olives and a half cup of thinly sliced red onion.
  • Try a caprese combo. Use halved mini mozzarella balls in place of the feta.
  • Try another herb. Fresh oregano would be lovely in place of the mint in this salad, and thyme would also be a great addition.
  • Swap out the arugula for spinach, or leave it out altogether if you prefer a higher pasta: veggie ratio.
  • Or roast your chickpeas for extra crunch.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

If you love this pasta salad recipe…

Try this broccoli salad, this watermelon salad, this couscous salad, or this summer slaw next!

Easy Pasta Salad

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 423 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Serves 6
You'll love this easy pasta salad recipe! It's a great one to make ahead - if you're bringing it to a picnic, prep it up to a day in advance.




  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente.
  • Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, and salt. (Note: the dressing will have a strong flavor, it’ll mellow once it coats all of the pasta salad ingredients).
  • Drain the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil (so that it doesn’t stick together) and let it cool to room temp. Transfer to a large bowl with the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, parsley, mint, and pine nuts. Pour the dressing and toss to coat. Season to taste with more lemon, salt, pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and serve.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Christine


    Would you still add the chickpeas if you add kalamato olives and red onion? Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Christine, I would still add the chickpeas – it would also be great without them if you preferred.

  2. Gail Kelleher

    5 stars
    I made this for a girl scout ceremony and it was a huge hit! I did use sun-dried tomatoes since regular tomatoes are not that flavorful right now. Delicious dressing too!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  3. Summer

    5 stars
    So tasty! I’ve used both white beans and chickpeas, and the feta can be swapped for olives if you fancy! It holds up super well for meal prep and is a forgiving and perfect spring / summer recipe

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  4. amy

    5 stars
    Delish! We made as directed but omitted the mint because we didn’t have any on hand. A hit with the whole family. Served 10 as a side dish. Thank you for posting this recipe

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Amy, I’m so glad it was such a hit!

  5. Mike

    5 stars
    I’m not a cook at all. I needed something for a side for burgers for Father’s Day. It used lots of pots so a pain for me cleaning up. Remember, I dislike long meal prep.
    Very tasty, my family liked it. I made as is and will again when forced or duty requires me to make some pasta salad.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mike, I’m so glad your family enjoyed it!

  6. AT

    5 stars
    Loved this! Super easy for a cookout side dish. Used Herbs de Provence instead of Italian and highly recommend. Got multiple compliments and many friends asking for the recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you all enjoyed it!

  7. Marie

    5 stars
    Added olives instead of chickpeas and didn’t have any fresh herbs and pine nuts. Is it still the same salad? I don’t care. It is sooooo good! In-laws loved it and even hubs raved about it despite not being fond of feta and olives.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha, I love this, I’m so glad you both enjoyed it 🙂

  8. Carol G

    4 stars
    The salad was good. However the prep is definitely way more than 12 minutes. I prepped even while the pasta was cooking and it took 40 more minutes after that! Perhaps 12 minutes to throw it all together if all your basil is plucked and other ingredients are cut.

    • Claire

      5 stars
      I made this a day ahead of time but now I’m concerned the arugula will be wilted tomorrow when I serve…thoughts?

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Hi Claire, it will be a bit wilted, but it’ll be fine to eat. You could freshen it by adding a little more as you’re ready to serve.

  9. Gail Latteri

    5 stars
    Everyone loved the pasta salad. It tasted better on the 2nd & 3rd day. Maybe make ahead & add basil, mint, arugula & cukes 4 or 5 hours before serving.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Gail, so glad you loved the recipe!

  10. Jo Ann Weatherly

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Will definitely be making this again. The only substitution I made was using seedless cucumber because I couldn’t find the Persian cucumber.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Jo Ann, I’m so glad you loved the pasta salad!

  11. Julia

    5 stars
    Fabulous combination of flavors! I don’t like herbs de provance, so I used a favorite dressing we like for pasta salad but added the mint and fresh basil… so so good. The pine nuts are awesome in there. I used red lintel pasta and we did a no meat dinner. Walked away satisfied.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Julia, so glad you loved the salad!

  12. Mary r

    Can u add me to your mailing list?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.