Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni

5 from 1 vote

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Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni recipe full of fresh ingredients. An easy side dish for your summer BBQ or grilling dinner.
A close view of the Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni in a bowl.

This Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni is an easy recipe perfect for a BBQ side dish on a summer day! Packed with lots of mix ins like olives, pepperoncini, onion, and pepperoni and tossed with a light yet creamy sauce.

Looking down on a bowl full of the Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

This easy pasta salad was the result of being bored and hungry a looooong time ago when I was working at a restaurant. A coworker made up a variation of this which I have since modified until it landed on this version!

This Italian pasta salad recipe is packed with easy ingredients you would typically find on a sandwich or in a salad like you would see at Olive Garden. Use more or less of anything as desired and make it your own!

This classic Italian pasta salad is always a huge hit as a side dish for cookouts and tailgating, and people request that I make it often! It is the perfect crowd pleaser side dish.

Easily make it ahead for a great BBQ side dish for your summer party! It is a great side dish for a large crowd where you need to accommodate lots of preferences. Just be sure to make a big batch!

Ingredients

Full quantities and recipe details can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Let’s talk about the ingredients and classic Italian flavors you need to make this easy Italian pasta salad!

Pasta – I love bowtie pasta but use any shape that you want, like fusilli pasta or rotini pasta

Pepperoni – you can also use mini pepperoni to avoid needing to cut it, or alternative variations like turkey pepperoni as desired

Pepperoncini Peppers – or banana peppers

Fresh Tomatoes – use whatever you have! Cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, etc are all great options. Even larger tomatoes chopped up works well!

Black Olives

Red Onion

Pepperoncini Juice – I like to add some of the brining liquid from the pepperoncini jar to the pasta as well for some added flavor! It is completely optional.

Parmesan Cheese

Italian Salad Dressing

Ranch Dressing

Lemon Pepper – this is a very unique spice blend. Instead, you could also use a combination of black pepper and some lemon juice to get the same flavors.

Fresh Parsley or Fresh Basil is a great addition to bring a hint of freshness to the pasta salad!

A pile of the Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni recipe on a wood board.

Instruction Overview

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water as per package directions until al dente.

Toss the pasta with some olive oil to help prevent it from sticking as it cools. Refrigerate until cool, at least 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta salad by combining the cooked pasta with the rest of the ingredients. Cut the mix-ins as large or small as desired.

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

This classic italian pasta salad can be served at room temperature or chilled, although I prefer a cold pasta salad recipe.

A close view of the Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni in a bowl.

Kim’s Tips

Whenever you make a pasta salad ahead of time for the next day, if you add the dressing in advance, it tends to get absorbed into the pasta as it sits. I recommend either not adding the salad dressings until ready to serve OR know that you might need to add more when serving to get it saucier again.

Modifications and Substitutions

Feel free to make this pasta salad your own by swapping out or adding other ingredients and fresh vegetables as desired! Options include:

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Fresh Mozzarella Pearls
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Red Bell Pepper (or any bell peppers – green bell peppers are crisper)
  • Spicy Green Peppers for some heat
  • Broccoli Florets

FAQs

Do they eat cold pasta salad in Italy?

Yes, Italy has a version of cold pasta salad called “pasta fredda.”

How long does Italian pasta salad last in the fridge?

Pasta salad is best within 2-3 days. The longer it sits, the more moisture is absorbed from the dressing. You will want to add more dressing as needed to make it as wet as desired.

Do you rinse pasta for cold pasta salad?

Rinsing pasta for pasta salad is not necessary, but will not hurt it.

Is it better to make pasta salad the night before?

No, pasta salad is normally best the day of as the dressing absorbs into the pasta the longer it sits. It can absolutely be made the night before, but you might need to add more dressing for moisture.

A pile of Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni on a wood board.
Pin of Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni up close with title at top.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Pasta Salads

A collection of some of our pasta salad recipes perfect for your cookout and BBQ grilling dinner!

A close view of the Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni in a bowl.

Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni

Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni recipe full of fresh ingredients. An easy side dish for your summer BBQ or grilling dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Pork, Summer
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 212kcal

Equipment

  • Strainer
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife
  • Large Spoon
  • Large Container for storing and chilling

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add some salt and cook as per package directions until al dente.
  • When the pasta is done, drain and store in a large airtight container. Toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to chill.
  • While the pasta is chilling, prepare your mixins by cutting them into your desired sizes.
  • After the pasta is chilled, combine it with all remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

If you do not have lemon pepper (a spice blend), you can use 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and squeeze in half a lemon. Adjust both to taste as desired.
If making in advance, the pasta will absorb more liquid from the dressings. Either add the dressings right when serving, or plan to add more dressings when serving to make it less dry. 
This recipe can stretch much further than 6 servings if served alongside multiple things at smaller portions.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 1211mg | Potassium: 372mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 541IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 1mg
By on May 27th, 2024

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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