This easy spaghetti salad is everyone's favorite summer pasta salad. Toss ingredients in a large bowl with Italian salad dressing for a vibrant side dish at any potluck!
Bookmark this easy spaghetti salad recipe to make all summer long. Spaghetti salad was introduced to me a while back from a friend who said her husband eats it all the time. We now frequently make it as a side dish to serve alongside our hamburgers and hot dogs at our summer cookouts. You'll often see a big bowl shared at a church potluck, but it's also great as a lunch salad. There are so many uses for this pasta salad recipe!
What is Spaghetti Salad?
Spaghetti salad is exactly what the name implies. It is a cold pasta salad made with spaghetti noodles, your favorite fresh veggies (like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions), mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, and Italian dressing. In short, makes spaghetti more interesting.
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
We love having this recipe at home because it is easy with available ingredients. It's super simple with amazing fresh flavors. Below is a photo and ingredient list of what you need to make this recipe.
- Spaghetti -- The full recipe calls for 1 lb. dry spaghetti noodles. You can choose regular or thin, whole wheat or not, gluten-free, any of it! Use less pasta if you want it more veggie focused.
- Cucumber -- Regular cucumbers are great, but I prefer an English cucumber in this recipe.
- Grape tomatoes -- Slice these in half. Substitute with cherry tomatoes if you prefer. Grape tomatoes tend to be cheaper, so I just grab what's a sale. Or, if I want it extra pretty I will use the heirloom variety.
- Mozzarella -- You can vary it up here, too. I typically dice up a block of mozzarella, but if you have shredded on hand and don't want to make a trip to the grocery store, go ahead and use what you have! Fresh mozzarella works here, too, although can be more expensive.
- Red onion -- This can pack a punch, so if you don't like the bite of spice a red onion adds, feel free to sub with sweet onion or green onions.
- Italian dressing -- You might have a favorite homemade Italian salad dressing recipe if you're counting calories, but for convenience I typically use store-bought.
How to Make Spaghetti Pasta Salad
Follow these general steps and helpful step-by-step images for how to make this easy spaghetti salad recipe.
- Boil spaghetti to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add all ingredients, except the dressing, into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour dressing over the bowl of ingredients and toss to evenly coat.
- Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
Best Recipe Tips
- Break dry spaghetti noodles in half when adding to the boiling water. The shorter spaghetti strands are easier to serve.
- To make the most of your time, prep veggies as the spaghetti is cooking. Wait to dice cheese until ready to add to the bowl.
- For a prettier presentation, mix the ingredients in a separate bowl than you plan to serve.
- Instead of Italian salad dressing, substitute with your favorite Greek dressing. It will taste a lot like our Greek pasta salad recipe with feta cheese.
- Add mini pepperoni pieces or bite sized chicken to the salad for an extra punch of protein.
- Sliced black olives is another ingredient we sometimes add, but not everyone loves olives.
- Slice a green bell pepper or yellow or red bell pepper and toss in the mix for added vegetables.
- The Italian dressing will add most of the flavor, but you can step it up a notch with adding your own spices, to taste. Try sprinkling in garlic salt or garlic powder, salt and black pepper, paprika, oregano, or a splash of red wine vinegar.
Do I have to use spaghetti pasta?
No, you can use whatever pasta you love most. The traditional pasta is spaghetti but use what you enjoy.
How far in advance can I make this?
In my experience, cold pasta salads drizzled with a dressing is best after it has time to chill and absorb the flavors for at least 2 hours. Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Why doesn't this recipe include Salad Supreme seasoning?
Many spaghetti salad recipes call for McCormick's salad supreme spice, but I think all the flavor necessary is in the Italian dressing. If you like, you can toss in a tablespoon, but I never have it on hand so don't include it.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
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- 1 lb dry spaghetti noodles
- 1 large cucumber , sliced or diced
- 8 oz. cherry tomatoes , sliced in half
- 8 oz. block mozzarella , diced
- ½ red onion , peeled and sliced thin
- 1 cup Italian dressing
- Cook spaghetti to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse in strainer with cold water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl. Toss until evenly coated with the dressing.
- Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
- When cooking the spaghetti, I like to break the dry pasta in half when adding to the boiling water. The shorter spaghetti strands are easier to serve.
- Use less spaghetti for a more veggie focused salad.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- More mix-in ideas:
- Mini pepperoni's or bite-size pieces of salami
- Supreme salad seasoning
- Parmesan cheese
- Yellow and red bell peppers
- Sliced black olives
- Add more cucumbers or tomatoes, if desired.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only.