California Spaghetti Salad


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Filled with fresh vegetables, tangy Italian dressing, and delightful twirls of pasta, you’ll want to savor each bite of this California Spaghetti Salad.

a horizontally aligned photo of a blue bowl full of California spaghetti salad with a blue and white checkered tea towel in the background

Italian Spaghetti Salad

Like so many pasta salads that I love, this one is loaded to the max with fresh vegetables. I like to add about ¾ of a cup of vegetables to the salad for every ounce of pasta (i.e. 6 cups of vegetables for 8 ounces of pasta).

That might sound like a lot, but I promise this ratio won’t result in too many vegetables. This is the best balance I’ve found for maximizing the textures and flavors in this Italian spaghetti salad.

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You can make this recipe with any vegetable you enjoy snacking on or eating raw. Just cut the vegetables into somewhat uniform, bite-size pieces. This ensures the maximum variety of textures and flavors in every bite.

If at all possible, try making this salad with homemade Italian dressing. It takes less than five minutes to shake this dressing together, and it makes a world of difference.

A close up of a forkful of this spaghetti salad, raised above a full blue bowl of the salad on a wooden table

California Spaghetti Salad

Something magical happens in each forkful of this pasta salad. Crunchy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes balance the slight bite of red onions and bell peppers.

The dressing is a tangy highlight, with bright notes of lemon and the smooth richness of olive oil. It adds vibrant and irresistible flavor to this California spaghetti salad recipe.

A top down shot of all the vegetable ingredients and the spaghetti noodles for this spaghetti salad in a metal mixing bowl on a wooden tabletop

The celery seeds and black olives add their distinct flavors, adding so much depth to this dish. I adore these ingredients. But, this recipe is so versatile, you can tailor it to suit your preference.

As written, this is a vegetarian recipe. But, if you’re like the meat lovers at my table, you’ll be pleased to know that this is a dish that pairs well with pretty much any protein option.

A small jar of homemade Italian dressing on a wooden tabletop beside the mixing bowl that contains the salad ingredients

California Spaghetti Salad Recipe

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this recipe:

  • thin spaghetti
  • Italian salad dressing
  • red onion
  • black olives
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • cucumber
  • sesame seeds, celery seeds, and paprika
  • parmesan cheese
A close-up photo of the spices in a tiny glass bowl with the other ingredients visible in the background in a metal bowl

California Pasta Salad

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil on high heat. Break the pasta into thirds or quarters (pieces about 2-3 inches long). Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Then, drain and rinse until cold.

While the pasta is cooking, halve the tomatoes and dice the rest of the vegetables. Put the veggies and olives in a large bowl. Then, add the cooled pasta to the bowl.

The spices have been added to the fresh ingredients in a metal mixing bowl

Pour the Italian salad dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Stir to coat everything in the dressing. Then, sprinkle with seasonings and shredded cheese. Stir again to mix throughout.

Now, if you’ve never tried a homemade dressing with pasta salad, then you absolutely must give it a try. It is so worth the effort. The lemon brightens up the flavors beautifully.

Pouring the italian dressing over the rest of the ingredients before mixing to combine in this California spaghetti salad

You can serve this dish immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. This is a great side to prepare ahead of time. It’s one less thing to worry about when getting dinner onto the table.

I like to garnish this salad with some more freshly shredded parmesan cheese, a pinch of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. But, you could just as easily add bacon bits or toasted sunflower seeds.

Fresh parmesan has been shredded over the other ingredients in this salad in a metal bowl, with a blue silicone spatula

Spaghetti Salad

If you like this recipe for California spaghetti salad, you’ve got to try it with Last Minute Chicken. It’s one of my favorite (and fastest) ways to get chicken on my family’s table.

You can also whip up a quick batch of Orange Garlic Shrimp to go with this recipe. Or, you can pair the shrimp with this Asian Pasta Salad, loaded with ten different fresh vegetables. It’s made with another vinaigrette so flavorful, you may be tempted to drink it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

All of the ingredients have been mixed together, and this spaghetti salad is ready to serve!

These Crispy Pork Bites caught my eye the other day, so I’ve got them on my list to try soon.

And, if you’re looking for other meat options to pair with pasta salad, then I strongly recommend these Asian Steak Bites. And, these Cajun Steak Bites are great for the spice lover at your table.

A close up photo of a bowl of spaghetti salad with vegetables and shredded parmesan

Looking for some tangy side dishes? This Sweet and Tangy Broccoli Slaw is filled with crunchy ribbons of broccoli and carrots, paper-thin onions, chewy cranberries, and pecans before being tossed in a light, tangy dressing.

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A close up of a forkful of this spaghetti salad, raised above a full blue bowl of the salad on a wooden table

Spaghetti Salad

Filled with fresh vegetables, tangy Italian dressing, and delightful twirls of pasta, you'll want to savor each bite of this California Spaghetti Salad.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti roughly broken into thirds or quarters, about 2-3 inches long
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 English cucumber diced into ½-inch pieces, about 1½ cups
  • 3 red, yellow, orange, or green bell peppers diced into ½-inch pieces, about 3 cups
  • ½ medium red onion sliced very thin and roughly chopped, about ¾ cup
  • 2.5 ounces sliced black olives drained
  • 10-12 ounces Italian salad dressing store-bought or homemade, about 1½ cups
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Break the pasta as directed, and cook according to the package directions. Drain and rinse the pasta until cold.
  • While the pasta is cooking, halve the tomatoes and dice the other vegetables. Then, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and olives in a large bowl. Add the cooled pasta to the bowl with the vegetables.
  • Pour the Italian salad dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Stir to coat everything well.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds, paprika, celery seeds, and Parmesan cheese. Stir again to mix throughout. Serve or refrigerate until ready to eat.


If at all possible, try this with a homemade Italian salad dressing. It makes a world of difference with the flavors here. The lemon brightens it beautifully.


Calories: 247kcal · Carbohydrates: 45g · Protein: 6g · Fat: 3g · Saturated Fat: 1g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g · Monounsaturated Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 2mg · Sodium: 390mg · Potassium: 323mg · Fiber: 3g · Sugar: 5g · Vitamin A: 1806IU · Vitamin C: 64mg · Calcium: 73mg · Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!
White lettering has been overlaid this image of a spaghetti salad with vegetables in a blue ceramic bowl. It reads: "Spaghetti Salad"

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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. Victoria Covey says

    Have anyone tried this without the pasta? How do you think it would be without the pasta?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Well, that would leave you vegetables and a really tasty dressing, so sounds like a terrific salad to me. Not the same as the original, but delicious nonetheless.

  2. Ann South says

    Is the amount of sodium in the nutrition information correct per portion? That’s about 50% more than an adult should have in an entire day!

    Until I looked at the nutrition information I thought the recipe looked good.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hey Ann, thanks for catching that! I have no idea how the calculations were that far off. (Those numbers aren’t something I do myself, but a part of the recipe card.) I re-ran it and it shows at a 10th of where it was. I looked up the dressing and cheese stats (as they’re the only significant sodium contributors) and it looks correct now. I hope that helps.