Pepperoni Pasta Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
This pepperoni pasta salad is delicious as soon as you toss it together. Or make it ahead so the bright and zesty flavors meld a little before you dig in.

Updated: Dec. 05, 2023

Pepperoni pasta salad might be the perfect potluck dish. It’s simple, inexpensive to make, and packed with crowd-pleasing flavors. And, like most Italian pasta salads, you can make it ahead of time!

We make this pasta salad with pepperoni for a super-savory kick, but it’s easy to customize with your favorite pasta shapes, meats and veggies. Use the recipe as a base to create your new go-to potluck dish.

Ingredients for Pepperoni Pasta Salad

  • Pepperoni: Pre-sliced pepperoni is great because it requires no prep work. You can use full-sized or mini pepperoni. (Psst: Swap in lean turkey pepperoni to make a lighter pasta salad. No one will be the wiser!)
  • Tricolor spiral pasta: Tricolor noodles look gorgeous, and the spirals give the pasta salad a fun texture. This recipe also works with whole-wheat pasta, gluten-free pasta or low-carb pasta made with protein-rich chickpeas or lentils.
  • Cheddar cheese: Cheddar tastes fantastic in pasta salad. It’s rich, sharp and very savory.
  • Chopped vegetables: Cucumber, tomato and green onions give the pasta salad a crunchy texture. It’s a nice contrast to the soft pasta.
  • Italian salad dressing: This dressing is zesty, tangy and bold. Make a homemade Italian dressing, or pick up an Italian dressing brand at the grocery store.

Directions

Step 1: Cook the pasta

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold water.

Editor’s Tip: Use a large pot with plenty of water to keep the pasta from sticking together. You can add a little cooking oil if desired (which also prevents the dreaded boil-over). Make sure to salt the pasta water, too. Otherwise, the pasta will taste a little bland.

Step 2: Combine the pasta salad

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cheese, cucumber, tomato, onions and pepperoni. Add Italian salad dressing, and toss to coat.

Step 3: Chill and serve

Pepperoni Pasta Salad in a big bowl TMB STUDIO

Cover the bowl, and refrigerate until serving.

Editor’s Tip: The pasta will absorb the dressing as it sits in the refrigerator. If it looks a little dry, refresh it with extra dressing just before serving.

Recipe Variations

  • Swap in other cheeses: You can use most types of cheese in pasta salad. Stick to firm cheeses to maintain a chewy texture. Provolone, block mozzarella or pepper jack cheese all work well. Softer cheeses like feta, fresh mozzarella pearls, blue cheese crumbles or goat cheese would also work. These cheeses won’t provide texture like hard cheese, but they blend into the salad in a nice way.
  • Substitute other meats: Most meats for charcuterie boards also work in Italian-style pasta salads. Salami or prosciutto would be great choices. You can also use other cooked meats like leftover or rotisserie chicken.
  • Add veggies: Add your favorite veggies to the mix. Veggies like carrots, celery or bell peppers add crunch. Baby spinach or thinly sliced kale boosts the dish’s color and nutrition. Even hearty vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower taste great in pasta salad.
  • Mix in other additions: Olives, marinated artichoke hearts, jarred roasted red peppers, pepperoncini or sun-dried tomatoes add depth and richness to pepperoni pasta salad.
  • Use a different dressing: Pasta salad with pepperoni gets a zesty kick from the tangy Italian dressing, but it’s not strictly required. Play around with the flavor profiles, and swap in Italian vinaigrette or Greek salad dressing instead. For a creamy spin, try Caesar or green goddess dressing.

Can you make pepperoni pasta salad ahead of time?

You can make pepperoni pasta salad ahead of time, and you should. The flavors meld together in the fridge, and the dish almost always tastes better with at least an hour’s rest. For best results, make pasta salad with pepperoni one day before serving. The salad may get a little dry as it sits, so keep some extra dressing on hand for last-minute tossing.

How to Store Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Like most cold pasta salad recipes, you should store pepperoni pasta salad in the refrigerator. It keeps for three to four days in an airtight container.

Can you freeze pepperoni pasta salad?

It is possible to freeze pasta, but we don’t recommend it for pasta salad. The once-crisp veggies become soggy, and the dressing loses its zesty edge.

Pepperoni Pasta Salad Tips

Pepperoni Pasta Salad in two separate bowlsTMB STUDIO

What can I serve with pepperoni pasta salad?

Pepperoni pasta salad pairs well with grilled recipes like grilled romaine salad, flank steak, grilled chicken or burgers. It’s also great with sandwiches or meaty dishes like Italian sausage and peppers.

Can you use different pasta shapes to make pepperoni pasta salad?

You can use any short-shaped pasta to make pepperoni pasta salad. We love tricolor spiral pasta. Twisted designs have plenty of nooks and crannies, allowing the dressing to really soak in to every crevice. Other pasta shapes that work well include penne, farfalle (bowtie), rotini or orecchiete. Avoid long noodles for pasta salad, as well as fresh pasta. Fresh pasta is too delicate and doesn’t hold up as well as dried pasta.

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked tricolor spiral pasta
  • 1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 28 pepperoni slices
  • 1/2 cup zesty Italian salad dressing

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, cheese, cucumber, tomato, onions and pepperoni. Add salad dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 287 calories, 15g fat (6g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 495mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 11g protein.