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This pasta salad with Italian dressing is easy to make and has the most incredible flavors. Crispy prosciutto, tender bocconcini balls, tangy banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and parmesan cheese get tossed with your favorite pasta and delicious Italian dressing. It's irresistible!
Pasta salad with Italian dressing
Forget about a side dish, this pasta salad is so good that you'll likely want to pile it high in a bowl and call it dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. We're certainly not going to judge you for eating it every meal of the day (cause that's exactly what we've been doing.)
There are so many incredible flavors in here that every bite is like a party in your mouth. You never know what you're going to taste next, but it's always delicious. The stars of this pasta salad show are:
- Crispy prosciutto – Yes! Crisp it like you would bacon then crumble it into salty deliciousness. (See the picture below!)
- Banana peppers – There is no way to describe just how much we love the tangy flavor with a hint of spice in this recipe. They are listed as optional, but really they're not.
- Mini bocconcini – Cute little balls of tender fresh mozzarella.
- Sweet cherry tomatoes – so fresh and summery.
- Olives – salty and flavorful.
- Crunchy green peppers and red onions. Yay for a little crunch.
- Basil and parmesan. Because more flavor = better.
How to make this pasta salad recipe with Italian dressing
There are only two parts that you need to cook to make this Italian pasta salad: the pasta and the prosciutto.
- Cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water just like you've done ten thousand times before.
- Lay the prosciutto in a large frying pan and cook it over medium-low heat until it is nice and crispy. Now use your fingers to crumble it into crispy prosciutto bits.
- Add all the ingredients to a large salad bowl, pour the dressing over the top, then mix mix mix. See how easy that was?
Full recipe instructions in the recipe card below.
What is the best Italian dressing for pasta salad?
When we make this pasta salad, we use our homemade Italian dressing. It takes only 5-minutes to make and the flavor is incredible. It's perfectly balanced and goes really well in this salad. And you can make a double batch and use the rest to make green salads or Italian dressing chicken this week.
But store-bought Italian dressing works, too! Just choose your favorite brand and use that in this recipe.
Variations to try
- Make it a pasta salad with Italian dressing and cucumbers by adding 1 cup sliced or chopped cucumbers.
- Skip cooling the pasta and serve it as a warm pasta dish instead.
- Try feta cheese instead of bocconcini.
- Make it a complete meal by topping it with some sliced, grilled chicken breast.
- Add some chickpeas or cannellini beans.
How long will this pasta salad last in the fridge?
Italian pasta salad keeps well for 4-5 days in your fridge, making it ideal for meal prep. If eating it cold straight from the fridge, you may want to toss the pasta in a little extra Italian salad dressing.
Or do what we do and add an extra scoop of banana peppers to really freshen up the flavor of the leftovers.
What to serve with pasta salad with Italian dressing
Italian pasta salad goes well with all your summertime favorite BBQ or picnic recipes. Here are a few of our favorites:
But this is really a year-round recipe. During cooler seasons, we love to serve this pasta salad with one of these mains:
- Juiciest Baked Pork Tenderloin
- Chicken Provençal
- Bacon Wrapped Mediterranean Chicken
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- 8 Minute Baked Salmon
Popular pasta salad recipes
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- Greek Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces dry pasta (we like bow-tie)
- 1 cup Italian salad dressing (we like our homemade Italian salad dressing best but store-bought works, too)
- 4 ounces prosciutto
- 8 ounces mini bocconcini (or regular bocconcini cut in half)
- 1 green bell pepper (diced)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
- ¾ cup olives
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
- ½ cup Italian parsley (chopped)
- Optional: 1 cup banana peppers
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the water then add the pasta to a large bowl and toss with ¼ cup of the Italian salad dressing.16 ounces dry pasta, 1 cup Italian salad dressing
- While the pasta is boiling, crispy the prosciutto. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat then add the prosciutto in a single(ish) layer. Let it cook until it shrinks and becomes crisp then turn it over and cook it for another minute on the other side. Remove it from the pan and crumble it a little into a bowl.4 ounces prosciutto
- Add the bocconcini, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, basil, parsley, banana peppers, crispy prosciutto, and parmesan cheese to the bowl with the pasta. Pour the remaining dressing over the top then toss to coat.8 ounces mini bocconcini, 1 green bell pepper, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, ¾ cup olives, ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, ½ cup thinly sliced basil leaves, ½ cup Italian parsley, Optional: 1 cup banana peppers, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.