Pesto pasta salad is easy to make, full of flavor, and hard to resist!

In this fresh, easy side dish, pasta is tossed with fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and basil in a quick creamy pesto dressing.

It’s perfect for cookouts, picnics, and parties or an easy lunch or dinner!

pesto pasta salad in a bowl with parsley

An Easy Meal or Side

  • Make ahead, chill, and serve when ready. Easy peasy!
  • This salad is pretty to look at and delicious.
  • Enjoy as a meatless main dish or add in chicken, bay shrimp, smoked salmon or even sliced salami!
  • Potluck perfect, this easy meal is a favorite at BBQs and get-togethers, too.


PASTA – Choose pasta with ridges, twists, or tubes for the dressing to cling to. Cavatappi (corkscrew), farfalle (bow-tie), penne, fusilli, or rotini are all excellent choices for this salad.

PESTO – Pre-made pesto sauce is easy to find at almost any store! Homemade pesto with herbs, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil is quick to make in a food processor. Or try an herb basil pesto or homemade kale pesto.

CHEESE – Soft fresh mozzarella can be found in small balls, AKA “bocconcini”. Cut cocktail size in half or use fresh mozzarella pearls if you’d like (or even a sprinkle of feta cheese). A large ball of mozzarella can be cut into small cubes, if necessary.

VEGGIES: Grape or cherry tomatoes add a fresh tang to this pesto pasta salad recipe. Add your summertime favorites, from corn off the cob to fresh spinach, red onion, or even diced cucumbers.

Pesto Pasta Salad ingredients in a bowl

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. Cook Pasta: Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions.
  2. Prep Dressing: Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl per the recipe below.
  3. Mix & Chill: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl & refrigerate before serving.

Serve with homemade garlic bread or crostini on the side.

Pesto Pasta Salad in a bowl

Make Ahead & Leftovers

To make ahead, prepare all ingredients a day or two ahead of time and store them separately. Toss together a few hours before serving.

Store leftover pesto pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If using homemade pesto and store for up to 3 days.

More Mediterranean Inspired Pasta Salads

Did you make this Pesto Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

pesto pasta salad in a bowl with parsley
5 from 30 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Pesto Pasta Salad

This refreshing pesto pasta salad is the perfect combination of pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, and olives, all mixed in with a flavorful pesto dressing!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Holly Nilsson



  • 8 ounces cavatappi or rotini pasta
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes diced
  • ½ cup small mozzarella balls
  • ½ cup kalamata olives pitted
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh basil


  • ½ cup pesto* see notes
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  • In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain well. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • In a small bowl, whisk pesto, mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar.
  • In a large bowl, combine the drained pasta, grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top just before serving


  • Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop it from cooking.
  • As the salad sits, it will absorb dressing so be sure to dress generously.
  • Optional additions include parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, capers, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
*If using homemade pesto, the pasta salad and leftover pesto should be refrigerated and consumed within 2-3 days.
5 from 30 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 338 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Vitamin C: 5.4mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


    1. It can be prepared the day ahead however, the pasta will soak up a lot of the dressing so I suggest that you prepare all ingredients a day or two ahead of time and store the dressing separately. Toss together a few hours before serving.

  1. This was such a nice surprising departure from typical mayonnaise pasta salads. I made it for our Bloc party and everyone loved it. It was awesome even two days later. I will be making this instead of the typical boring macaroni salad5 stars

  2. VERY TASTY! I always use Cavatappi pasta. I like to make homemade Pesto, b/c the Pesto in a jar from the store has waaay too much sodium. Great recipe….Thanx :-)5 stars