13 Easy Pasta Salads You Can Make Last Minute

Easy pasta salads are a fantastic dinner idea. They are versatile, allowing you to make a pasta dish for virtually any cuisine, and nobody ever complains when they have a bowl of pasta in front of them. Thankfully, pasta is also quick and easy to make in most cases. Unless you are making the pasta from scratch, all you have to prep while the pasta cooks is what you’ll put into your pasta. This can span a full range of sauces, vegetables, and more. These thirteen easy pasta salads are a great way to get dinner on the table fast with less time spent in the kitchen. Plus, the leftovers give you a wonderful lunch the next day.

1. Orzo Salad With Pesto

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with orzo pasta with pesto sacue.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This delicious orzo salad is great for lunches or light dinners. With garden vegetables, healthy fats, feta, and arugula, it’s the perfect pasta salad for dinner tonight. Pesto gives the pasta and fresh vegetables fantastic flavor, and you can easily round out the meal with a green salad and a side of garlic bread.

2. Orecchiette Pasta Salad

A white bowl filled with Orecchiette Pasta Salad sitting on a red dishtowel, surrounded by fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This healthy Orecchiette Pasta Salad is a colorful combination of veggies and herbs for a great pasta dinner. It’s a light dish, making it a wonderful side dish to a main course, or you can eat it as a main course but add some other sides like garlic bread or a bowl of soup. Here again, leftovers make a great lunch the next day.

3. Mexican Pasta Salad

A closeup of a white bowl filled with Mexican Pasta Salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This flavorful Mexican Pasta Salad recipe is a simple recipe that is the perfect answer to the “what’s for dinner” question. It has wonderful Mexican flavors, with all the fresh veggies you would expect from a pasta salad like this. Serve with sides that go well with any Mexican food such as refried beans or add a side of grilled meat.

4. Avocado Pasta Salad

A closeup of avocado pasta salad in a bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This Avocado Pasta Salad recipe is perfect for serving a family. Creamy avocado, crunchy red onion, fresh-picked cucumbers, and parsley come together for a mouth-watering pasta salad your family will love. A side of soup would go really well with this, along with some garlic bread.

5. Vegetable Pasta Salad

A closeup of a white bowl filled with vegetable pasta salad.
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This Vegetable Pasta Salad is bursting with fresh flavors, and it’s the perfect side dish for whatever meats you may want to enjoy with it. It’s a tasty salad with Italian flavors. The fresh basil leaves put this over the top with fresh and delicious flavors. This can be a main course or a side dish to anything else you’d like to serve it with.

6. Black Bean Pasta Salad

An up close shot of a white bowl filled with black bean pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This Black Bean Pasta Salad is a great way to get some extra fiber. The pasta for this dish is made from black beans, and it is gluten-free as well. If you can’t find black bean pasta, you can use regular pasta and simply mix in a can of drained and rinsed black beans to get all that wonderful bean fiber. This makes a wonderful packed lunch as well.

7. Tuscan Pasta Salad

A side view of a white bowl filled with Tuscan pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, red onions, and more come together to make this healthy and flavorful dish. This Tuscan Pasta Salad can be served as a vegetarian main course, or as a perfect side dish to meats, seafood, or even tofu. Add a green side salad and some toast or garlic bread, and you’ll have a full and satisfying meal in no time at all.

8. BLT Pasta Salad

Closeup of a BLT pasta salad in a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

The classic flavors of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes aren’t just for sandwiches anymore…not when you have this delicious BLT Pasta Salad recipe. It tastes just like you would expect it to, but in a hearty pasta salad that makes a great main course. If you really miss the bread, you can enjoy this with a piece of toast, but chances are, you won’t be able to stop eating this one.

9. Orzo Pasta Salad

A closeup of a blue bowl filled with chickpea orzo pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Orzo pasta may not be one of the traditional pasta shapes that we are used to here in the States, but it’s the perfect size and texture for this Orzo Pasta Salad recipe. Feta cheese, tomatoes, red onion, spicy arugula leaves, and your favorite pesto come together for an amazing texture and flavor you might not expect from pasta salad.  The small-size pasta and well-chopped veggies make this salad easy to eat and easy to pack up for future lunches or dinners.

10. Rustic Italian Pasta Salad

A closeup of a white bowl filled with rustic Italian pasta salad.
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This Rustic Italian Pasta Salad comes together quickly and has all of the great flavors of a traditional Italian pasta salad that you would expect from a salad like this. Make it the night before, and come dinnertime, you will have a tasty cold pasta salad with beautiful flavors that have marinated overnight.  It’s a hearty dish that will fill you up on its own, but can also make a great side dish.

11. Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Overhead view of Bow Tie Pasta Salad in a white bowl and garnished with fresh parsley.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This Bow Tie Pasta Salad is chock full of flavor and lots of vegetables, including cucumbers, asparagus, carrots, chickpeas, and more. You can make this amazing salad ahead of time and pull it out for dinner when you’re ready. It’s pretty simple to make, and is great for lunch or dinner, but makes a particularly nice meal at the end of a long day.

12. Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

A closeup of a yellow bowl filled with buffalo chicken pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you are looking for a heartier pasta salad recipe, this Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad is it. Shredded chicken, homemade buffalo sauce, blue cheese crumbles, vegetables, and pasta make this a tasty and hearty salad that is sure to be a hit. It’s also a great dish to take to potlucks or on a spring picnic. Don’t pass this one by.

13. Turkey Pasta Salad

A white mixing bowl sits filled with turkey vegetable pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you want to surprise guests with a pasta salad dish with a twist, try this Turkey Pasta Salad. Crumbled ground turkey, chopped veggies, pasta, and a handful of spices make this a quick and filling salad that can be a side dish or your main course. If you are serving a crowd, consider a side salad or some soup to round out the meal.

14. Tuna Pasta Salad

A white bowl holds a serving of tuna pasta salad and is garnished with fresh greens.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you want a super fast and easy pasta salad you can toss together last minute and have zero complaints at the dinner table, this tuna pasta salad is what you want. You can cook the pasta and the frozen peas together in the same pot, drain them, and then toss with the remaining ingredients for a delicious and comforting pasta salad meal the whole family will adore.

15. Greek Pasta Salad

A closeup of a bowl filled with Greek pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Greek flavors are amazing in so many different types of dishes, and pasta is not immune. This Greek pasta salad is great enjoyed warm or chilled, pairs great with a green salad and some chicken, and gives you all those wonderful Greek ingredients you can’t help but love. It’s wonderful as a main course on its own and can easily be packed up for lunch and taken to work or school.

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This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Food and Travel Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel


Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. Her food specialty is healthy comfort food recipes.

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