23 Pasta Salads to Upgrade Your Cookout

Best of the Olive Bar Salad
Photo: Greg Dupree

For a picnic-perfect side dish, look no further than pasta salad. Whether you prefer orzo or soba noodles, these recipes use fresh veggies and herbs to create simple and flavorful sides. Our collection includes vibrant Esquites-Style Poblano Pasta Salad, tangy Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Yuzu Dressing, creamy Corn and Zucchini Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese, and many more delicious pasta salad recipes to elevate your next barbecue or meal.

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Fregola with Charred Onions and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

© Peden + Munk

Fregola is a bead-shaped pasta from Sardinia; it's nicely chewy and can be used as a phenomenal base for a summer salad. Chef Jeff Banker roasts cherry tomatoes in the oven before he adds them to the fregola, which makes them especially sweet.

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Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Yuzu Dressing

Yuzu Chilled Noodle Salad
Emily Kordovich

"Using the ready-made jams and marmalades found in Asian supermarkets, we can build dressings for chilled noodles that pair excellently with a variety of vegetables, creating a dish that is anything but generic," says 2021 F&W Best New Chef Lucas Sin. Here, he uses yuzu tea, ponzu, and yuzu kosho in his tangy dressing.

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Greens Pasta Salad

Greens Pasta Salad
© Con Poulos

F&W Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple dresses pasta with a tangy and creamy mix of buttermilk, vinegar, and mayo, then mixes in plenty of greens.

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Anu's Noodle Salad with Crunchy Fruit

Anu's Noodle Salad with Crunchy Fruit
Jennifer Chong

A joyful romp of textures, restaurateur Anu Mahendro's refreshing salad combines crisp bell pepper, juicy grapes, pineapple, chewy egg noodles, carrots, and fresh apples dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. To maintain the textures, serve it chilled.

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Pasta Salad with Feta and Herbs

Pasta Salad with Feta and Herbs Recipe
Eric Wolfinger

This Southern-inspired pasta salad gets a touch of tangy heat from hot sauce and loads of crunch from nutty sunflower seeds. Use Duke's mayonnaise for an extra-tangy bite to the dressing. This colorful, eclectic pasta will fit in well with any picnic or cookout spread.

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Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula, Pine Nuts, and Herb Dressing

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula, Pine Nuts and Herb Dressing
© Fredrika Stjärne

This basic pasta salad is jazzed up with peppery arugula and a lively mayo-based dressing made with garlic, lemon juice, and a trio of fresh herbs. We use sweet grape tomatoes, which are delicious year-round.

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Esquites-Style Poblano Pasta Salad

Esquites Pasta Salad
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Esquites is the creamy corn salad version of elote, the beloved Mexican street food where corn on the cob is slathered with mayo and sprinkled with chili powder and Cotija cheese. Here, we've taken esquites and turned it into a pasta salad, loaded with charred corn, zucchini, scallions, and poblano chile. A crema-mayo mixture flavored with lime and cilantro adds a bright finish, and Cotija and ancho chile powder seal the deal.

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Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables, Parsley, and Feta

Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables, Parsley and Feta
Fredrika Stjärne

This bright, Greek-inspired salad is even better the next day, after the flavors have time to fully mingle.

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Thai-style Beef Salad over Angel Hair Pasta

Thai-style Beef Salad over Angel-Hair Pasta
© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

Laab — ground beef seasoned with chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and mint — is a traditional Thai meat salad eaten warm or at room temperature. We've added thin noodles to turn it into a pasta salad, but you can always eat the meat mixture by itself; just cut down on the fish sauce, or the beef may be too salty.

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Fusilli with Spinach and Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto

Fusilli with Spinach and Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto
© David De Vleeschauwer

Our tomato pesto packs a wallop of flavor. Use it in this colorful pasta salad or toss it with hot pasta instead. You may also want to try the pesto on top of grilled chicken, lamb, or vegetables; as a sandwich spread; or mixed with cream cheese on a bagel.

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Cold Saimin Salad with Soy-Ginger Grilled Pork

Cold Saimin Salad with Soy Ginger Grilled Pork
Victor Protasio

This Hawaiian-style cold ramen noodle salad is topped with slices of savory, crispy pork shoulder, crunchy bean sprouts, tender ribbons of egg, shredded nori, and slices of Japanese pickled cucumber. A cooling dressing of dashi, rice wine vinegar, and sake brings it all together.

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Smoked Salmon Macaroni Salad with Spinach, Lemon, and Goat Cheese

Smoked Salmon Macaroni Salad with Spinach, Lemon and Goat Cheese
© Kristen Stevens

This bright and flavorful smoked salmon macaroni salad with spinach, lemon, and goat cheese is sure to become a summertime favorite.

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Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant

Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant
© John Kernick

"Buckwheat and basil actually work really well together," chef Bill Kim says about his unlikely match-up of Japanese and Mediterranean flavors. This chunky salad has a great mix of textures, too: velvety grilled eggplant, crunchy radishes, and juicy cucumbers.

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Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts

Grilled-Chicken Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts
© Melanie Acevedo

Using canned artichoke hearts cuts the preparation time for this salad way down. They're surprisingly good; just be sure to rinse them thoroughly to get rid of any extra acidity or "tinny" taste.

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Corn and Zucchini Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

Corn and Zucchini Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Con Poulos

We take pasta salad to a new level with sweet grilled corn, zucchini, and a creamy lime dressing spiked with chile powder. Fresh cilantro adds brightness, then the whole salad gets topped with tangy slivers of fresh goat cheese.

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Warm Puttanesca Pasta Salad

Warm Puttanesca Pasta Salad
Victor Protasio

Cherry tomatoes are the star of this vibrant dish, which also includes crispy prosciutto, fragrant herbs, anchovies, and punches of garlic. A couple tablespoons of petite capers pull their weight, lending an unmistakable briny goodness.

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Thai Seafood Noodle Salad

Thai Seafood Noodle Salad
© Dana Gallagher

The classic flavors of Thai cuisine — sweet, salty, spicy, sour — can all be found in the dressing on this salad, a delicious tangle of chewy rice noodles, shrimp, squid, and peanuts.

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Spicy Lobster Noodle Salad

Spicy Lobster-Noodle Salad
© Cedric Angeles

This cellophane-noodle salad, with creamy avocados, crunchy peanuts, and a chile-honey dressing, is an excellent showcase for Caribbean spiny lobsters. Also known as rock lobsters, they are sweet but can be slightly dense. This recipe uses Maine lobsters; they're more tender than spiny lobsters — and just as delicious.

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"Best of the Olive Bar" Pasta Salad

Best of the Olive Bar Salad
Greg Dupree

This easy pasta salad comes together in just 15 minutes with help from the grocery store olive bar.

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Soba and Zucchini Noodle Salad

Soba and Zucchini Salad with Gochujang Dressing
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

This soba salad offers bracing heat that's most welcome on a hot day when the coldest beers are at hand. Tender buckwheat noodles and crispy strands of zucchini "noodles" soak up a pleasantly piquant dressing laced with both gochugaru and gochujang for a double hit of spicy Korean peppers mellowed by a touch of brown sugar.

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Pasta Salad with Grilled Sausages and Peppers

Pasta Salad with Grilled Sausages and Peppers
© Con Poulos

You can use your favorite sausage — or really any meat — in this easy pasta salad.

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Chilled Rice Noodle and Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Chilled Rice Noodle and Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
© Sarah Bolla

This peanut dressing has quite a list of ingredients but it's definitely worth the effort, as its flavor has a delicious and fresh complexity to it that isn't found in store-bought peanut sauces. Toss in fresh herbs and chopped peanuts to the noodles at the end for added texture.

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Sesame-Ginger Chicken Pasta Salad

Sesame–Ginger Chicken Pasta Salad
© Kristen Stevens

This quick-prep, creamy, Asian-inspired pasta salad is a meal in itself or a great barbecue or picnic side dish.

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