Easy Tricolor Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Last Updated: March 23, 2024

5 from 1 vote
This easy pepperoni pasta salad recipe combines tri-color rotini pasta, mini pepperonis, fresh vegetables, and a tangy Italian dressing to create a vibrant and tasty side dish.
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Pepperoni pasta salad
Why I love this recipe

This pepperoni pasta salad is fast and easy to make, tastes even better when it’s made the day before, and all the colors make it look as good as it tastes.

It’s also really easy to serve without making a mess.

And goes well with a lot of different meals.

Which is why it’s one of my favorite dishes to take to potlucks, picnics and barbecues.

Ingredients

italian pasta salad ingredients in bowls

This recipe will make 8 side dish servings.

Here is your shopping list:

  • pasta: 16-ounce package tri-color rotini pasta. I like rotini since the ridges help to hold the dressing, enhancing the flavor of the pasta.
  • dressing: 1 cup Italian dressing, divided. I like to use the Olive Garden brand.
  • meat: 1 5-ounce package sliced mini Pepperonis or chopped regular pepperoni.
  • fresh vegetables: 2 bell peppers – 1 yellow and 1 orange, 1 16-ounce package grape or cherry tomatoes
  • canned vegetables: 1 6-ounce can black olives
  • cheese: 1 8-ounce package of Mozzarella pearls, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • herbs and spices: 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning, Fresh oregano or parsley sprigs for garnish (optional)

Substitutions

  • Any small pasta can be used in place of rotini.
  • Salami can be used in place of or in addition to the pepperoni.
  • Any color of bell pepper will work. But I like the yellow and orange ones because of their bright colors.
  • Replace the mozzarella pearls with regular mozzarella by chopping it into ¼ inch cubes.
  • For a zesty twist, consider adding some banana peppers to the mix.

You can replace, remove or add any of the vegetables or cheeses depending on what you like. Pasta salad is very forgiving!

How to make pepperoni pasta salad

close up of italian pasta salad

1 | Boil the pasta

tricolor pasta in a pot of boiling water

Start by boiling the pasta per the instructions on the package.

If the package provides a range of cooking times, use the lower one to avoid overcooking. Otherwise the pasta will get soggy after it soaks up the dressing.

Once done, drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it under cold water immediately to halt the cooking process.

2 | Coat the pasta with dressing

italian dressing benig poured over tricolor pasta

Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and mix it with ¼ cup of the Italian dressing.

This will help to infuse the pasta with flavor as it cools.

Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill.

3 | Chop the vegetables

red peppers being chopped

While the pasta is cooling, chop the bell peppers into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the tomatoes and olives in half. This will make them easier to pick up with a fork and ensure a more even distribution in every bite.

4 | Make the salad

yellow peppers, orange peppers, cherry tomatoes, mini salami, black olives, mozzarella and parmesan on top of tricolor pasta in a bowl

Once the pasta has completely cooled, add the mini pepperonis, chopped bell peppers, grape tomatoes, olives, mozzarella pearls, grated parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning to the bowl.

Italian salad dressing being poured over Italian pasta salad

Pour ½ cup of Italian dressing over the top.

Italian pasta salad being tossed in a bowl

Toss the salad to ensure that everything is thoroughly coated with dressing and the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5 | Chill

Overhead of italian pasta salad in a bowl

Cover the salad and put it in the refrigerator.

Allow to chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

The longer your salad chills, the more dressing the pasta will absorb, and the more flavor your salad will have.

Just before serving, toss the salad with the remaining ¼ cup of Italian dressing.

Serving suggestions

A bowl of Italian pasta salad beside a plate of it

This pepperoni pasta salad is a versatile dish that can be served as a main course or as a side dish at barbecues, picnics, or potlucks.

Garnish with additional grated parmesan cheese and sprigs of parsley or oregano, if desired, for a fresh and vibrant presentation.

It pairs well with grilled balsamic chicken, pesto turkey burgers or Greek-inspired tilapia.

Angled view of Italian pasta salad in a bowl

Storage

Store pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

If the salad seems a bit dry when serving leftovers, simply pour a little extra Italian dressing over it to moisten it.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I use any type of pasta for pasta salad?

Yes, you can use any type of pasta for this recipe. However, shorter pasta shapes like rotini, fusilli, or penne work best as they hold the dressing and other ingredients well.

Can I customize this recipe by adding other vegetables or toppings?

Absolutely! Italian Pasta Salad with Pepperoni is a versatile recipe, and you can add or modify ingredients according to your preference. Some popular additions include chopped cucumbers, artichoke hearts, or banana peppers. Feel free to experiment and make it your own!

Close up of Italian pasta salad in a bowl with serving spoons

Tricolor pepperoni pasta salad

5 from 1 vote
Servings: 8 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Chill time 1 hour
Total 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 16- ounce package tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 cup Italian dressing divided
  • 1 5-ounce package sliced mini Pepperonis
  • 2 bell peppers – 1 yellow and 1 orange , chopped
  • 1 16-ounce package package grape or cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 1 6-ounce can black olives , halved
  • 1 8-ounce package Mozzarella pearls
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • Fresh oregano or parsley sprigs for garnish optional

Equipment

  • pot for boiling pasta
  • collander
  • large bowl
  • Chopping knife
  • salad spoons
  • measuring cups and spoons

Instructions
 

  • Boil the pasta as directed on the package, using the lower cook time if there is a range.
  • Drain it and pour cold water over it immediately to prevent it from cooking any longer.
  • Add the pasta to a large bowl and mix with ¼ cup Italian dressing.
  • Put it in the refrigerator to chill.
  • Once the pasta has completely cooled, add the mini pepperonis, chopped bell peppers, grape tomatoes, black olives, mozzarella pearls, grated parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning to the bowl.
  • Pour ½ cup Italian dressing over the top.
  • Toss the salad so that everything is thoroughly coated with dressing and the ingredients are distributed throughout.
  • Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  • Toss with the remaining ¼ cup Italian dressing just before serving.
  • Garnish with more grated parmesan cheese and some sprigs of parsley or oregano if desired.

Notes

  • Any kind of small pasta can be used instead of rotini. However, I like Rotini best because the ridges hold the dressing which gives the pasta more flavor.
  • Feel free to change out any of the vegetables and cheeses. Pasta salad is very forgiving so exact measurements are not required.
  • Be sure not to overcook the pasta. It will soak up some of the liquid from the dressing, and will fall apart if it is too soft to start with.
  • The longer the pasta salad is allowed to chill, the more dressing the pasta will absorb and the better it will taste.
  • Pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You may want to pour a little extra Italian dressing over it before serving to brighten up the taste.
Nutrition Facts
Tricolor pepperoni pasta salad
Amount per Serving
Calories
567
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
30
g
46
%
Saturated Fat
 
11
g
69
%
Trans Fat
 
0.4
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
11
g
Cholesterol
 
51
mg
17
%
Sodium
 
1335
mg
58
%
Potassium
 
458
mg
13
%
Carbohydrates
 
53
g
18
%
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
8
g
9
%
Protein
 
22
g
44
%
Vitamin A
 
1608
IU
32
%
Vitamin C
 
51
mg
62
%
Calcium
 
277
mg
28
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

authorWanda Simone
courseSalad
cuisineAmerican
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This post was originally published on July 23, 2023 but was updated with new content on March 23, 2024.


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