Think about your favorite summer foods. You know, the ones that are always served at backyard cookouts. Pasta salad made the cut, right? Because we don’t know about you, but we’d eat pasta salad at just about every meal but there’s just something particularly satisfying about seeing it served in summer alongside food straight from the grill. Despite the fact that pasta is a comfort food and can feel heavy, it seems to take on a much lighter and more refreshing quality during the summer months.
Of course, with pasta salad being such a staple of summer parties, you might show up to a friend’s fete and find you’ve brought the same dish as another partygoer. Since traditional pasta salad doesn’t have too many variations, that means everyone at the party is getting a double dose of the same old, same old.
Which is precisely why we put together this list of exciting pasta salad recipes! They aren’t just standard side dishes — they’re destined to become the star of any summer party.
15-Minute BLT Pasta Salad
It’s like a BLT in a bowl… with pasta. Honestly, how could you possibly go wrong? Busy Budgeter’s genius recipe will make you a true believer in this combo — including, yes, putting lettuce in your pasta. It’s a risk worth taking, promise.
Asian Pasta Salad
You won’t be able to decide which is the most addictive part of this Asian pasta salad from Valerie’s Kitchen — the pleasantly surprising crunchy texture, or the sesame-soy dressing every one at the party will be begging you for.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Chicken, bacon, cheese and pasta tossed in ranch dressing… this recipe from Dinner then Dessert doesn’t need much selling, does it? But in case you need more convincing, consider that it’s also crazy-easy to toss together.
Cowboy Pasta Salad
If you’re craving something hearty with a little zing to it, look no further than Carlsbad Cravings’ “cowboy” pasta salad. It’ll fill you up with juicy ground beef, sweet corn, black beans, bacon, tomatoes and cheese. Oh, and did we mention it’s smothered in a tangy, creamy southwest barbecue sauce that is to-die-for?
Crab Pasta Salad
Be the superhero of any summer party when you surprise partygoers with a true treat — pasta salad featuring chunks of crab meat. This recipe from Wine and Glue uses imitation crab, but you could always swap it out for the real stuff if you’re feeling generous.
Deviled Egg Macaroni Pasta Salad
You guys. By combining two beloved summer side dishes — pasta salad and deviled eggs — Trial and Eater may have stumbled upon true culinary genius. And don’t worry; it’s light on the mayo, so it won’t feel too heavy (sounds like a good excuse for seconds to us!).
Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
Raise your hand if you’ll eat just about anything that has to do with dill pickles (*waves hand wildly in air*). There’s no way that dill pickle pasta salad from Spend with Pennies won’t be the big hit of whatever party you bring it to. It’s especially bound to impress little ones.
Easy and Delicious Tuna Pasta Salad
If you love tuna salad just as much as you love pasta salad, meet Taste Better from Scratch’s tuna pasta salad. This dish boasts all the things you love and expect from both of those beloved sides, with the added bonus of healthy Greek yogurt.
Lemon Herb Mediterranean Pasta Salad
When you want to whip up something simple yet sophisticated, turn to Cafe Delites’ lemon herb Mediterranean pasta salad. Light and summery, it’s chock-full of fresh ingredients like cucumbers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers and more.
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Mexican street corn might be one of the greatest gifts ever given to foodies, so it stands to reason Mexican street corn pasta salad is a veritable dream come true. Let’s Dish came up with this festive recipe, dubbing it the “best pasta salad” blogger Danelle had ever tried.
Orzo Pasta Salad
Hey, there’s no rule that says pasta salad has to be made with a certain type of pasta. We’re obsessed with the textural switch-up of Dinner at the Zoo’s orzo pasta salad. This recipe calls for cucumbers, chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion, feta and herbs, but you could probably toss in any fresh summer veggies you have on hand.
Poppy Seed Chicken and Grape Pasta Salad
Don’t let your doubts about putting fruit in a pasta salad keep you from discovering this dish. Cooking Classy’s poppy seed chicken and grape salad is proof that fruit and pasta salad can be a beautiful marriage. Between that unexpected combo and the addition of crisp celery and crunchy almonds, this recipe is sure to wow.
Protein Packed Thai Pasta Salad
How does a pasta salad that takes only 20 minutes to make but packs 18 grams of protein and tons of flavor sound? Pretty great, right? Catching Seeds’ protein-packed Thai pasta salad is an answered prayer for busy moms everywhere.
Southwest Pasta Salad
There may be other Southwest-style pasta salads out there, but we’re partial to Inspired by Charm’s version. First of all, using wagon wheel pasta is, well, an inspired choice. But it’s also the combo of corn, beans, roasted red peppers, and creamy ranch dressing that is destined to make this dish a show-stopper.
Taco Pasta Salad
You can’t go wrong if you take Like Mother, Like Daughter’s cue and imbue pasta salad with all the flavors of a taco. The addition of crushed Doritos in this recipe is borderline brilliant.
Italian Caprese Pasta Salad
If you don’t want to fuss with a ton of ingredients, go with The Chunky Chef’s Italian Caprese pasta salad. All you need are some juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, a little basil and Italian vinaigrette to create an easy (but super-elegant) summer side dish.
Hawaiian Pasta Salad
Trust us when we tell you that you’re missing out if you’ve never tried Hawaiian pasta salad before. Or better yet, don’t just take our word for it — follow Amanda Cooks & Styles’ recipe and try it for yourself. If you really want to blow everyone away, serve it with grilled huli huli chicken and Hawaiian sweet rolls.
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