Classic Italian flavors make this super easy pasta salad with pepperoni, veggies, and Italian dressing a potluck favorite everyone will love.
Easy Italian Pasta Salad
Picky eaters. Just like dust bunnies and crumbs dropped and forgotten (or ignored?) in the corners of the kitchen, there’s always a few in the room.
This Italian pasta salad is made for picky eaters. Because who doesn’t love spaghetti? And pepperoni? And olives doused with a tangy Italian dressing?
I made this pasta salad along with this healthy broccoli salad for a potluck dinner a few weeks ago. I knew there were picky eaters in the crowd, and I knew there was a very slim chance those eaters were going to be partaking of broccoli, especially in a salad.
This was my offering for them. A crowd pleaser was in the house.
This cold pasta salad has all the flavors of a classic Italian pizza, but with the crunch of cucumbers red bell pepper and slither of spaghetti topped with tangy Parmesan cheese. This spaghetti pasta salad with Italian dressing comes together quickly and easily and is a snap to make for even the most novice of home cooks.
Sure, there’s a bit of chopping to be done, but once you’ve wielded your way through the cucumbers, onion, red bell pepper and halved a few tomatoes, all that’s left is shaking your groove thing. For the dressing that is.
What’s in This Italian Pasta Salad?
This pasta salad has two main components: the cold pasta salad itself and the homemade Italian dressing it’s coated in. Here’s what you’ll need to make this cold pasta salad with Italian dressing:
- Thin spaghetti
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mini pepperoni
- Sliced black olives
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Italian seasoning
How to Make Pasta Salad
Italian pasta salad is as simple to make as chopping up some veggies, tossing them with cooked spaghetti, and dousing in homemade Italian dressing.
Generously salt the pasta water. The key to good pasta is to cook it in water that has been heavily seasoned with salt. That’s where the flavor starts.
Make the homemade dressing in a jar. Using a jar to make salad dressing might be the easiest shortcut you’ll make this week. You could easily double this dressing and keep it on hand for green salads throughout the week if you’re looking for the second easiest shortcut of the week.
Rinse the pasta for cold pasta salad. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it then rinse in cold water to rinse off the gluten that can make the pasta gummy. Keep the veggies crisp and cool by allowing time for the pasta to cool before tossing it with the vegetables.
Can I Omit the Mini Pepperoni?
If you’re having a hard time finding mini pepperoni, you can always use the larger pieces and simply chop in half. Or use salami or chunks of chicken instead.
Can I Add Extra Veggies?
If you’re feeling like switching things up even more, feel free to use green, yellow or orange bell peppers or add marinated artichoke hearts to the mix. This is one of those cold pasta salads that totally works with what you have on hand. Or for pleasing those picky little eaters.
Tips for Making Pasta Salad
This salad lasts for days. And the third shortcut? Forget making this salad for the masses and make it for yourself to eat for lunch for the week. With this ingredient list it will hold up well for several days on end.
Italian dressing from scratch is best—and easy! My favorite homemade Italian dressing recipe in the recipe card below, but you’re welcome to use your favorite store-bought brand instead if you’re short on time. But homemade is definitely best in this case!
More Pasta Salad Ideas to Make
- Greek Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Artichoke Hearts
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad
- Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
THE BEST Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni
- 1 pound thin spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 cucumbers quartered and sliced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces mini pepperoni
- 1 4- ounce can sliced black olives drained
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 garlic clove pressed or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in boiling water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Drain, rinse and cool.
- Add the spaghetti to a large bowl with the cucumbers, red bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, mini pepperoni, black olives and parmesan cheese.
- In a pint jar with a lid, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic clove, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shake well and pour over the spaghetti mixture and toss to coat.
- Add more parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes up to overnight.
More Easy Potluck Salads You’ll Love
- Classic Three Bean Salad
- Berry Delicious Fruit Salad
- How to Make the Best Creamy Coleslaw
- German Potato Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- No-Mayo Potato Salad with Herbs
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