Tri Color Rotini Pasta Salad

This summer-friendly tri-color rotini pasta salad makes a delicious side dish and is excellent for a backyard BBQ, pot luck, or quick family meal. Plus, it’s flavorful with a variety of flavors you are surely going to enjoy.

A close up of a white bowl filled with rotini pasta salad.

Pasta salad is one of the most iconic side dishes for any kind of gathering. From backyard barbecues to family reunions, potlucks, and church functions, you’ll almost always find pasta salad in one form or another somewhere on the table. I’m pretty sure that’s because it’s so good and so incredibly easy to make. This is the kind of recipe that can feed a crowd without leaving you stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. I’m in love with pasta salad. From creamy varieties to lighter fare, they’re always so good. I’ve made all kinds, but lately, I’ve been really loving this lighter version. It’s just as delicious, but it’s not nearly as heavy.

Tri-Color Rotini Pasta Salad

This delicious pasta salad is made with Italian dressing instead of a heavy, creamy sauce. It combines tri-color rotini, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and black olives with the dressing I just mentioned to create a light pasta salad that’s big on Italian flavor but not on work and that will leave you feeling like you’ve got just a little more room for that other delicious dish you saw on the potluck table. Don’t stop at potlucks, though. I’ve been known to make this pasta salad simply to go with family dinner.

A white serving bowl with rotini pasta salad in it.

Why You’ll Love This Rotini Pasta Salad Recipe

  • It’s the perfect summer salad, and it only takes a few simple ingredients.
  • It has a wide variety of flavors, and it’s so light and delicious.
  • It’s super easy to make and pairs well with so many of your favorite recipes.

Rotini Pasta Salad Tips and Variations

This recipe is so incredibly easy to make that I don’t have many tips at all for it. In fact, I only have one. It’s an important one, though. I have some variations that I think you’ll love, though.


  • Always cook your pasta to al dente and no longer. You want that firm but tender texture so you have a great bite with the pasta salad. It also prevents the pasta from turning to mush when you mix it with the other ingredients.


  • Try using Italian sausage in place of pepperoni.
  • Smoked sausage works very well in this dish.
  • Use your favorite short noodle for this recipe. Any variety or flavor will work well like farfalle or penne..
  • Add additional veggies like broccoli, red onion, shredded carrots, diced zucchini, diced bell peppers and pepperoncinis. 
A white bowl with pasta salad in it.

What to Serve with Rotini Pasta Salad

Pasta salad goes well with pretty much all of our favorite foods. It tastes delicious with:

  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Fried chicken
  • BBQ chicken
  • Pulled pork
  • BBQ ribs and beef
  • Sandwiches

Rotini Pasta Salad FAQ

If you have questions about this recipe, then read on. The following FAQ answers the most commonly asked questions about pasta salad.

Where did pasta salad originate?

No one knows exactly who invented pasta salad, but we do know that it’s an American dish. The first known recipe for pasta salad appeared in a Washington Post recipe published in 1930 and was called “mock potato salad”, using macaroni instead of potatoes.

How do you keep pasta salad from soaking up dressing?

If you’re using a creamy base for your pasta salad, toss the noodles with a little olive oil to coat them in a water-repellent barrier. Pasta salads like this one that use Italian dressing don’t require this because the dressing itself contains oil.

A bite of pasta salad on a fork .

Can you freeze leftover pasta?

You can freeze pasta leftovers for up to a month provided you freeze only the noodles. Never freeze your pasta in sauce, as it will affect the texture when thawed.

Should I let pasta cool before adding mayo?

There’s no reason to let the pasta cool first. In fact, adding the mayo to the warm pasta makes it easier to mix the salad, allowing the ingredients to combine more readily.

How long will pasta salad last in the refrigerator?

It will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

A super close up of pasta salad showing the rotini pasta, mini pepperonis, black olives, cucumbers, chunks of cheese.

How to Store Leftover Pasta Salad

Place the leftover pasta salad in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days.

Tri-Color Rotini Pasta Salad Ingredients

It only takes a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. You’ll find them all easily at your local grocery store.

  • Tri-color rotini
  • Mini pepperonis
  • Mozzarella cheese, cubes
  • Cucumber, diced
  • Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced black olives
  • Italian dressing, can use more

How to Make Tri-Color Rotini Pasta Salad

Making this recipe is just as easy as getting the ingredients together. It only takes 2 steps!

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water, and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

Step 2: Combine the Ingredients

Add all the remaining ingredients to the pasta in the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Try This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Today

This tri-color rotini pasta salad is absolutely overflowing with great Italian flavors. It’s not, however, overflowing with work! The most labor-intensive part of this super-easy recipe is simply boiling water. It doesn’t get easier than that! Whip up this pasta salad for a weeknight dinner, backyard BBQ, potluck, or any gathering. There’s never a wrong time for this easy recipe. Give it a try, and I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

A three photo collage of tri-colored rotini pasta salad in a white bowl.

More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes You Might Enjoy

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad – A delicious side dish made with corn on the cob, pasta, and all the flavors of street corn in a cold pasta recipe.

BLT Pasta Salad – Here is a delicious and hearty pasta salad with all the flavors we love in a classic BLT sandwich.

Chicken Curry Pasta Salad – This delicious chicken pasta recipe is absolutely amazing! So flavorful, full of all kinds of deliciousness and requested often, it’s that good.

And, here is a hearty Bow Tie Pasta Salad, from Deliciously Seasoned, that you might enjoy as well.

Tri Color Rotini Pasta Salad

Great Grub, Delicious Treats

This tri color rotini pasta salad is loaded with rotini pasta, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, mini pepperonis, mozzarella cheese, and Italian dressing.

Prep Time 20 mins

Cook Time 10 mins

Total Time 25 mins

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American

Servings 8 Servings

Calories 306 kcal


  • 12 ounce box tri-color rotini
  • 5 ounce mini pepperonis
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups cucumber, diced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives
  • 10 ounces Italian dressing, can use more


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat and cook pasta per package directions for al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and add to a large bowl.

  • Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

  • Cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.


Nutritional values are approximate.


Please note that these values can change with different brands and any modifications made to the recipe. For the most accurate information, use a nutritional calculator with the exact brands and measurements.


Calories: 306kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 10gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 847mgPotassium: 245mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 94mg

Keyword Pasta Salad Recipe, Rotini Pasta Salad, Tri Colored Rotini Pasta Salad

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A close up of a white bowl filled with pasta salad.
A bite of pasta salad on a fork.

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