Creamy Pasta Salad

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Light and slightly tangy Creamy Pasta Salad, with just enough creamy dressing to coat the noodles and vegetables, this is one heck of an awesome cold pasta salad.

Perfect on its own for a light meal or as a side dish for all the summer potlucks and barbecues. A homemade pasta salad is better than any deli salad you can buy at the store!

Creamy Pasta Salad is a favorite all year long

A few years ago, while visiting my aunt and uncle, we were fortunate enough to arrive around dinnertime. (My aunt is a fabulous cook, so I tend to time my arrivals that way. You know, accidentally on purpose?)

Speaking of Aunt Judy’s amazing foods, have you tried her Almond Bars yet? Put them on your holiday baking list right now.

Her pasta salad was so simple and so delicious, I had to recreate it for my family as soon as I got back home. Thanks once again for the inspiration, Aunt Judy.

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This cold pasta salad is filled with broccoli, cucumber, red pepper, black olives, and green onions. Everything gets tossed in a light creamy dressing and the result is a fresh, slightly tangy pasta salad with plenty of different flavors.

I love salads with more vegetables than pasta. Recipes like this Asian Pasta Salad and this Summer Couscous Salad are great salads that thrill my vegetable loving heart.

Creamy Pasta Salad with Vegetables

Cooking the broccoli just long enough to brighten the color and soften the crunch gives this salad a little something extra. (So, I highly recommend that you don’t skip that step.)

Last time I made this, I shot a video to share with you. Be sure to check it out.

Pasta Salad Dressing

The dressing for this pasta salad is creamy, slightly tangy, a little bit sweet, and provides the perfect light complement to this salad.

As simple as it is, it’s absolutely perfect. A scoop of mayonnaise, a splash of vinegar, a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and sugar add up to a terrific pasta salad dressing that everyone enjoys.

If you haven’t tried the salad yet, I hope that you’ll love it every bit as much as we do. Every time I make this salad, I stash containers of it in the fridge for my lunches all week.

Creamy Pasta Salad

Cold Pasta Salad

If you love pasta salad for easy meals all year round, you’ll want to try this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and the Italian Artichoke and Tomato Pasta Salad after you’ve finished the last bite of this Creamy Pasta Salad.

Many of you are still going crazy over the Spinach Pasta Salad as well. I make that simple salad on repeat all year long.

The Tangy Italian Pasta Salad is another popular one. I have this Greek Pasta Salad and this Tuna Pasta Salad on my list to try soon too. You just can’t have too many great pasta salads at your fingertips, right?

Summer Pasta Salad with Vegetables and a Creamy Dressing

How To Make Creamy Pasta Salad

  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks.

  2. Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large strainer. Rinse well with cold water.

  3.  Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

  4. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat.

  5. Add the cucumber, pepper, olives, and onions and stir again.

  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.

If you forget to toss the broccoli in the boiling water at the end of the pasta’s cooking time, you can also steam it in the microwave. Place the broccoli in a glass bowl along with a tablespoon of water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until the broccoli is bright green and barely softened.

Creamy Cold Summer Pasta Salad recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Creamy Pasta Salad

Creamy Summer Pasta Salad

4.77 from 60 votes
This is a fresh, slightly tangy pasta salad with plenty of different flavors.
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Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 min
Total Time: 11 mins
Servings: 6 servings


  • 8 ounces salad macaroni or ditalini pasta
  • 1 cup tiny broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup very thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons white wine or plain vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar


  • Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks. Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.
  •  Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat. Add the cucumber, pepper, olives, and onions and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving. Enjoy!


If you forget to toss the broccoli in the boiling water at the end of the pasta's cooking time, you can also steam it in the microwave. Place the broccoli in a glass bowl along with a tablespoon of water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until the broccoli is bright green and barely softened.


Calories: 297kcal · Carbohydrates: 31g · Protein: 5g · Fat: 16g · Saturated Fat: 2g · Cholesterol: 7mg · Sodium: 496mg · Potassium: 184mg · Fiber: 2g · Sugar: 2g · Vitamin A: 580IU · Vitamin C: 30.5mg · Calcium: 24mg · Iron: 0.8mg
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(originally published 6/6/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 09/4/20}

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Anonymous says

    In the Creamy Summer Pasta Salad I see Black Olives. But, you do not have them listed in the Salad Ingredients.

  2. Anonymous says

    I'd love to make this for our graduation party. Could anyone help with adjustments to ingredients for 50 servings?

    • Mary says

      If you multiply the recipe times 8, that would give you approximately 50 servings. I wouldn't attempt making more than half of that at a time though. Enjoy the party!

  3. Anonymous says

    How far in advance would you make this and it still seem saucy? I have a baby shower on sunday but i have a wedding on saturday so i was planning on making enough for 40 on friday…would it be okay or should i prepare it but add the sauce the morning of the shower?

    • Mary says

      Normally, I'd suggest that it would be fine, just toss before serving. However, with quantities like that, it's harder to know that for certain. I like the way the flavors meld after it has been refrigerated for a while, so I wouldn't keep them separate, but it might dry out a little bit. I'd suggest making a small extra portion of the sauce and be ready to add it to the salad if it isn't as saucy as you'd like. Happy celebrating this weekend!

    • Mary says

      I usually use tiny raw florets, Paola. But I've also used leftover roasted broccoli and that was delicious too. Feel free to briefly cook it (still leaving it mostly crisp) if you aren't a fan of the raw broccoli.

  4. Anonymous says

    This is my favorite pasta salad to make. Everyone loves it. I LOVE the addition of broccoli to this salad, makes it pop. Really love this. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Anonymous says

    I love this salad and it can be versatile. I add chopped boiled eggs and sometimes green olives as well. I have also made a dinner out of this dish by adding chopped pork tenderloin along with a bit of the juice for flavor. Serve with a crispy French Bread loaf with garlic butter. Yum

  6. barbara hamilton says

    This salad rocks!! I have made almost every pasta salad imaginable but this is the best and favorite of any.
    The previous poster is correct; it is versatile. I like it as the recipe is written, but add a few flakes of parmesan cheese that brings it over the top! Thank you Mary.

  7. Michelle says

    Hi Mary. Trying your recipe for the first time. We are attempting to triple it. Wish me luck 🙂
    My question comes a little late as we are making it as I speak but….Do we use the entire green onion (green leaves and bulb) or just the white bulb part? It's hard to tell in the pictures. Thanks in advance for the answer!

    • Mary says

      Hi Michelle,

      I hope the salad turned out well for you! I typically slice the whole onions from the green tip down through most of the white bulb. I hope that helps for next time!

      All the best,

  8. Anonymous says

    I'm thinking of trying this with frozen green peas instead of the brocolli and maybe celery instead of cucumber. It looks really good.

  9. Mary Villegas says

    Can I use gluten free pasta? Will it be just as good? I have a daughter who cannot eat gluten and I don't want her not to be able to enjoy this delicious looking salad.

    • Mary says

      I have made this with gluten free pasta and it's great that way. However, most GF pastas aren't their best 24 hours later, they tend to be much firmer than we like after being refrigerated for a while. So, typically, I won't double this recipe or plan on leftovers when making it GF.

  10. André Paquet says

    I just append to Côme acrost your web site in Pinterest, and i found your recepies quitte easy and fun to,do
    Merci et continuez à nous aider dans la cuisine

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  12. Abbey Robbins says

    How many does this serve? It looks really good. I’m needing a recipe for 40-50 guests for my daughters graduation

  13. Mary says

    I made this for Memorial Day and I loved it. My husband didn’t like it that much but he did eat a little (veggies) lol very refreshing to me and many others.5 stars

  14. Lori says

    Delicious! This has become one of my go-to pasta salads for the summer. It’s not super creamy so it’s a little easier on the waistline too!!5 stars

  15. Pat Means says

    Am i missing something? The picture posted has black olives and what looks like red bell peppers. I cannot see either one posted in the ingredients. How much of each did you use. It looks so yummy I can hardly wait to make this salad.

    • Mary says

      Tomato would be tasty, however, it won’t keep as nicely as the firmer pepper. I typically plan on pasta salads lasting several days, so tomato isn’t my first choice. If you’ll be eating all of it or making it the day you plan to serve it, it should be fine.

    • Mary says

      The leftover salad keeps fine for a few days, but if it were me and I knew I wouldn’t be serving it for two days, I’d wait to mix it. Enjoy!

  16. Meredith says

    I have made this recipe several times and everyone always loves it! I have forwarded this pin, per request at least 6 times! So simple and easy to make ahead for a party and I have taken it camping! So yummy.5 stars

  17. Paul Cameron says

    If you really kick up this recipe , I added crumbled feta cheese , it reall anhanced the flavor and consistsncy5 stars

  18. carol l labree-mayo says

    This id delishous. I made it for a family bbq and was very pleased with the results . Easy to make and very pretty.5 stars

    • Mary says

      What kind of flavors are you looking for? It might just need a little more salt for your tastes. More tang? a splash of vinegar will help. Want a little spicy heat? I have made this with several shakes of cholula hot sauce or tabasco too.

  19. Mary says

    I’m going to make this! I’m thinking I’ll add some fresh mottzarella (Galbaoni) and some Rossiterie chicken to make it a meal. Yum!

  20. Doris says

    My husband does not like cucumber – I had lots of yellow crookneck squash from the garden so I used that instead.

  21. Jessie says

    the first time I made this dish my family went crazy over it. We are not a huge olive fan so instead I put in cherry tomatoes and that made the dish colorful and tasty. I am sure the olives are tasty. Thanks for This dish is quick and easy to make and once you make it you can pretty much memorize it for the next time. sharing the recipe!5 stars

  22. krystal says

    I really love the flavor of this but after refrigerating it’s like the salad sucks up all the tasty sauce :/ Then I have to make more and mix in. Thinking of not adding the mayo mixture until ready to serve to prevent that.4 stars

  23. Anna Finch says

    Thanks for the great recipe!
    My children never liked the paste, but in this interpretation with the salad, they really liked it. They say that when they come from school and do all the lessons, I would have prepared a dish for them again. I am just in joy!

    Sincerely, Anna5 stars

  24. Martha says

    My clients and I love this salad! It has a nostalgic look and taste, and pairs perfectly with anything from sandwiches and burgers to baked or grilled chicken. I can easily omit items some will not eat (such as olives). I always make a double batch of the dressing; sometimes the seems a little dry otherwise. Definitely a repeater on a lot of menus. (I am a personal chef who cooks for multiple families.)5 stars

  25. Ann says

    I was looking for a really good pasta salad not using a vinegerette type dressing!! I was also looking for something with more veggies. Love this recipe!!!! It is amazing and will make it again and again!!!5 stars

  26. Rachel says

    This is honestly is the best pasta salad I have had. My husband made it a couple weeks ago, but he didn’t save the recipe. I hounded him to look for it again. So happy to have found it! Thanks so much. This is a keeper!5 stars

  27. Beverly says

    I added salami and mozzarella balls as well as peas for color. Sort of Italian style! The dressing is good and makes a good dressing for cucumber salad or broccoli salad but add more vinegar for a more tangy flavor. This recipe a good base for creativity!4 stars

  28. Rosalind says

    Loved this I added a dijon mustard, and pickle juice with the dressing omg. Made the pasta with a fun pasta, Bow ties! 2 cups instead of 1 cup of elbow or ditalini

    Thank you
    For this recipe
    Cheers,Rosalind5 stars

  29. Sherri says

    This best pasta salad EVER! It’s not heavy like a traditional pasta salad and I appreciate the vegetable additions. Big hit at potlucks! Thank you so much for this refreshing delicious recipe!5 stars

    • Judith Gardner says

      OF COURSE!!! You are efficient that way. I am making this for our family tomorrow, along with fresh peach pies & home made vanilla ice cream. By the way, my granddaughter, almost 16 asks frequently for me to make this salad!!!

    • Anamika says

      Is it ok to make this a day ahead? Im going to make it for 100 people and want to make sure its not last minute. Plus, do u think I can use ranch in it(want to get back up groceries in case I run put of mayo 🙂 ). Thank you!

  30. Panda Girl says

    It’s so creamy and delish! It’s also a great noodle to eat in the summer cause it’s nice and cold. I just ador it! And am so happy to be part of this cooking thingy and that i can look this stinkin’ thing up cuase its soooooooooooo good!5 stars

  31. Kat says

    Love this pasta salad, have made it at least 5 times and turns out perfect each time. Love all your recipes, bought your cookbook and signed up for your newsletter. Keep up the delish recipes, much appreciated!5 stars

  32. Kat says

    This is the best pasta salad! I make it once per week in the summer and am making it for the third time this winter. I am not a fan of the Italian dressing pasta salad and this is so delicious, I have made several of your recipes and your tastes are so in line with mine! Delicious, easy and appreciated by others. I also purchased your cookbook and signed up for your newsletter. Keep the recipes coming!5 stars

  33. Anna says

    Delicious !! Made this for lunch today because it was really hot and it didn’t disappoint!! I also had some veggie bacon which I threw in and it tasted great 🙂5 stars

  34. Darlene says

    This is the best healthy pasta salad I make for summer side. I put extra veggies in it for the family. The dressing is perfec! We love it! Thank you sooooo much for posting!5 stars

  35. Kirsten says

    I have an unholy love for pasta salad and this is the absolute best recipe I’ve found. 100% perfect. Thanks so much for the recipe!5 stars

  36. Beth says

    That salad looks absolutely delicious. I must make this. I cant rate it cause I havent tried it yet but I just can tell it will be so yummy.

  37. Carol Paulsen says

    The recipe needs to have the olives added I assume with the cucumber, pepper, and onions. I found the dressing needed “something”. I ended up adding some garlic powder and garlic salt. I’d say it was an okay recipe but not one of my favs this time. I’m thinking I might try it again and add some Uncle Dan’s ranch dressing mix to the dressing for the flavor I was looking for.3 stars

  38. Judy Nachtigal says

    I have made this salad a few times, and I absolutely love it. The first time I made it, (as I always do with new recipes,) I made it as listed…with just one change. I hate olives! (I love olive oil though. I know, weird! ) So I subbed them for diced spicy dill pickles. I liked it a lot, but then adapted it to my preferences. I really appreciate how a great chef can offer her unique recipes, and then her readers can make their adaptations.
    I felt the salad soaked up so much of the delicious sauce after it sat a bit, so I added extra sauce. And because I love tangy, I made this with about 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 Tbsp. dill pickle juice, a little more black pepper, a pinch of sugar. Yum! Hard to resist a little snack of this salad when I open the refrigerator door.
    Thank you Mary for another inspiring recipe.5 stars

  39. Carol says

    This is a truly delicious pasta salad. I have a hard time resisting it when I have some in the fridge. I followed the recipe except for omitting the olives, which I don’t care for, and adding an ear of fresh corn at my husband’s suggestion. Fantastic!5 stars

  40. Liz says

    Thanks for the recipe! This was delicious! I didn’t have enough white vinegar or mayo so I supplemented with apple cider vinegar and sour cream.5 stars

  41. Shannon says

    I lost my mother’s version of this recipe (again) and was loathe to call her…..I am glad that I didn’t. This was better! My only changes were red wine vinegar vs white vinegar, chopped olives vs sliced olives and garlic salt vs kosher salt. I kept the amounts as they were, except I doubled the broccoli (we LOVE broccoli in this house!). Although it sounds like a lot of changes, it really was just slight tweaking. This recipe would have been great if followed exactly.5 stars

  42. Elizabeth says

    I made this following the recipe exactly (minus the olives). Yum! My whole family enjoyed it. It is much better than the macaroni salad that you get from the grocery store deli. I had no idea it was so easy to make! I will make this again for sure.5 stars

  43. Sandra S. Thompson says

    Wowsa! Perfect pasta salad. I diced some leftover ham and tossed it in and a handful of cheese crumbles and that was supper. We ate it with some warm french bread. Perfect! I love all these cold salads for these southern hot days.5 stars

  44. Martha says

    We love this pasta salad! I leave out the olives though. My son likes to drizzle a bit of honey mustard dressing on his.5 stars

  45. Cyle says

    I’m sorry but I followed this recipe to the T it was very very salty. I would recommend adding the salt to taste only and not putting it in before hand.1 star

    • Mary Younkin says

      I typically taste and adjust the salt as I cook. 1/2 teaspoon of salt is actually kind of low for this recipe. I always taste and adjust as needed. Sorry it wasn’t to your tastes!

  46. Nikki says

    I don’t usually like olives but my husband does and something told me to keep them in the recipe. So glad because I actually enjoyed them in there. This was a very tasty pasta salad and I’m glad I found your recipe. It hit the spot and I snuck so bites late at night too.5 stars

  47. Amy says

    I was searching for a creamy pasta salad recipe and this hot the spot! I added carrots to mine and omitted the olives and doubled everything! I couldn’t resist a little bowl as soon as I was done mixing it all together. Perfection! Can’t wait to have it with dinner tonight!5 stars

  48. Malati Hartley says

    I made this just now. I’ll be making it for my daughter’s baby shoer( my first grand baby) on Saturday. I wouldn’t change a thing. So delicious and refreshing. Thank you for the recipe.
    Malati5 stars