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12 Healthy Pasta Salad Recipes You’ll Make All Summer

May 10, 2024
Courtesy of Barley and Sage

Pasta salad is such a staple in the warmer months, and with good reason: It’s hearty enough to be a meal but also works as a side, it’s highly customizable, and it’s a crowd pleaser. With all the different low-carb and gluten-free noodle options, you can enjoy it even if traditional pasta is off the menu. Plus, pasta salad is convenient, since you can make it ahead. It’s perfect for barbecues and picnics, but also great as a cool, fuss-free lunch or dinner anytime.

Whether you’re craving a rich, creamy bowl, a lighter version, with or without meat, there’s a pasta salad here that you’re sure to love.

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You asked: How do you make pasta salad not soggy?

Cooking the pasta for the right amount of time is key to the best texture. We recommend cooking it about 30 seconds past when the package says it will be al dente. So if the label says to cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, cook it for 8 minutes 30 seconds. Pasta will be firmer when it’s cold, so this way, your noodles will be just firm enough without getting mushy.

Should I rinse pasta for cold pasta salad?

Yes, but don’t drown it. The pasta will absorb more of the dressing if it’s still slightly warm, but you do want to cool it off enough to stop it from cooking. Rinse the hot pasta lightly with cold water and drain well, then toss with the dressing or sauce. If you’re not having it right away, save some of the dressing and toss the salad again with it just before serving.

1. Lemon Chicken Artichoke Pasta Salad

Lemon artichoke pasta salad

Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Chicken, artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts all combine to make this zesty, lemony pasta salad feel special. Make extras of the vinaigrette, which will work on all kinds of salads.

Try this recipe from How Sweet Eats.

2. Healthy Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad

Courtesy of Fit Foodie Finds

Creamy, a little spicy, tangy — all the best flavors of a taco come together in this hearty salad. With seasoned ground turkey, fiber-rich black beans, tomatoes, corn, and olives, this salad has so much going on, you won’t miss the tortillas.

Try this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds.

Related: 8 Healthy Pasta Salads We’re Absolutely Loving

3. Marinated Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Marinated vegetable pasta salad

Courtesy of Recipe Tin Eats

Roasting the vegetables, then marinating them in a light, flavorful vinaigrette, is the secret to the deep flavor in this colorful salad. Combine the veggie mix with festive curly pasta, salty feta, and fresh parsley, and you have a party in a bowl.

Try this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.

4. Broccoli Cranberry Pasta Salad

Broccoli cranberry pasta salad

Courtesy of Yummy Addiction

A classic broccoli salad with cheddar, dried cranberries, and the crunch of bacon gets the pasta salad treatment in this recipe. Greek yogurt and just a touch of mayo make up the creamy dressing. Use more sunflower seeds and omit the bacon (or swap in turkey bacon) if you prefer.

Try this recipe from Yummy Addiction.

5. Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

Thai peanut noodle salad

Courtesy of Vanilla and Bean

If you love the noodle salads from your favorite Thai restaurant (who doesn’t?), this recipe is for you. With lots of crunchy vegetables, protein-rich edamame, and a flavorful peanut butter–based dressing, each bite feels like an event.

Try this recipe from Vanilla and Bean.

6. Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest pasta salad

Courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

Tomatoes, corn, avocado, cotija cheese, and a honey-lime dressing give this crowd-pleasing pasta salad tons of flavor and texture. Enjoy it as is, or toss in grilled chicken, black or pinto beans, or cooked shrimp for a protein boost.

Try this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Related: 10 Mayo-Free Pasta Salads to Make All Summer Long

7. Caprese Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Caprese pasta salad

Courtesy of Belle of the Kitchen

A classic Caprese salad is a must in the warmer months, and here you get all those flavors, plus fun bowtie pasta. This recipe has sun-dried tomatoes, but you could use fresh — or a combination of both — if you like.

Try this recipe from Belle of the Kitchen.

8. Shrimp Pasta Primavera Salad

Shrimp Pasta Primavera Salad

Courtesy of Cookin’ Canuck

Go green with this bright, healthy orzo salad, thanks to asparagus, snap peas, and lots of fresh herbs. A light, lemony vinaigrette is all you need to bring all the tasty ingredients together. Crab or even lobster would also work well in here.

Try this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck.

9. Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Chicken pesto pasta salad

Courtesy of Barley and Sage

Pesto is so perfect in pasta salad, and this one, with grilled chicken, mozzarella, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and bacon, is bound to become one of your go-tos. Bring it to a cookout and watch it disappear.

Try this recipe from Barley and Sage.

Related: 5 Gluten-Free Pasta Salad Recipes to Make This Summer

10. Sesame Noodle Salad

Sesame Noodle Salad

Courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats

Cold sesame noodles is one of our favorite takeout dishes, and it’s easier to make than you might think. The deeply flavored dressing is key, combining tamari, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Add a spoonful of chili crisp to the dressing, too, if you have it handy. Lots of crisp veggies in the salad make it super satisfying.

Try this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.

11. Healthy Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna pasta salad

Courtesy of Erin Lives Whole

This pasta salad packs in 18 grams of protein per serving, thanks to convenient canned tuna and some Greek yogurt in the creamy dressing. It also has peas in it, along with carrots and celery, giving it a tuna casserole vibe, but in salad form.

Try this recipe from Erin Lives Whole.

12. Strawberry Spinach Pasta Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

Strawberry spinach pasta salad

Courtesy of Le Creme de la Crumb

Sweet, salty, tangy — this pasta salad has it all going on. With strawberries, pineapple, and dried cranberries, plus spinach and salted cashews, it’s a riot of flavors, textures, and colors. It would be perfect alongside any kind of grilled meat.

Try this recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb.

Read next: 10 Takes on a Classic Egg Salad Recipe

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