The Best Caprese Pasta Salad [Video]

5 from 17 votes
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This caprese pasta salad is made with only a few ingredients, yet is super tasty. This refreshing pasta salad is the perfect summer side dish.

A bowl of pasta salad on a white background with salt and basil.


 

Pasta salads make great side dishes for summer. Some of our favorites are creamy shrimp pasta salad and tortellini pasta salad. This caprese pasta salad is an easy recipe that you can make in no time, perfect for any party or gathering.

Why You’ll Live This Recipe

  • Simple: This pasta salad is very easy and quick to make.
  • Few ingredients: The recipe calls for just five ingredients that you probably already have. 
  • Make ahead: You can make it ahead of time and serve it later. 
  • Easily customizable: Caprese pasta salad is vegetarian-friendly and easily modified to other preferences. 
A close up shot with tomatoes and basil.

What Does Caprese Mean?

Caprese is a popular Italian salad made with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil with some olive oil, salt and pepper. This combination is so refreshing and can work with many different recipes such as caprese stuffed chicken breast, avocado caprese sandwich and caprese gnocchi – any of which can be dinner recipes perfect for a family weeknight dinner. 

Ingredients To Make Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese pasta salad ingredients: pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, pesto.
  • Pasta – I used bow tie pasta, but you can use any other type such as rotini, macaroni or orecchiette pasta. 
  • Tomatoes – Grape or cherry tomatoes work perfect for this recipe. It’s best not to use large tomatoes in this pasta salad.
  • Fresh basil: In summer, you can use your garden basil to make this salad!
  • Fresh mozzarella – You can either use mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini) or cut large mozzarella slices into small pieces. 
  • Olive oil: It’s best to use extra virgin olive oil if possible. It’s also possible to use basil oil instead.
  • Garlic: A little bit of finely minced garlic adds so much flavor!
  • Pesto – Homemade pesto or store bought would work. 

How To Make Caprese Pasta Salad

Cook the pasta and let it cool, add in mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and pesto. Mix and chill in the fridge.
  1. Make the pasta according to the packaging in salted water. Drain and let it cool completely. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the mozzarella into 1-inch pieces and add it the bowl. 
  3. Cut the tomatoes in half and add them to the pasta. 
  4. Chop fresh basil and add it to pasta, tomato and mozzarella. 
  5. Add the olive oil, garlic and pesto to the salad. Mix well so all the ingredients are combined. 
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve cold. 

Pro tip: It’s best to wait until the last minute to chop and add the basil since it browns easily. 

Variations

You can add the following ingredients to this basic Italian pasta salad for more flavor, or you can easily mix and match!

  • Chicken: Add some grilled chicken to make it a full, delicious meal.
  • Spinach: Caprese pasta salad with spinach is one of our favorite alternatives. 
  • Avocado: Make a creamy pasta salad by adding chunks of avocado.
  • Sun dried tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are always delicious, but you can give this salad a kick by adding sun dried tomatoes, especially when fresh ones are not in season.
  • Shrimp: Cooked or grilled shrimp goes so well with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Veggies: Bell peppers, olives and peas are great choices for adding a little extra flavor.
  • To make this pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette, swap basil pesto for a balsamic vinaigrette made with balsamic glaze, olive oil and a dash of salt.  

Serving suggestions

Cold pasta salad recipes like this one are one of the most popular barbecue side dishes for summer parties. You can serve this pasta salad with any kind of barbecued meat such as chicken shish kabob, beef kebab and shrimp kabobs.

It also makes a delicious side for dishes such as Italian skillet chicken, caprese chicken or pesto salmon. This pasta salad is also a delicious vegetarian pasta salad for your friends who don’t eat meat.

Two bowls of caprese pasta salad ready to be served.

Storage

Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve, add some olive oil and pesto to the salad and give it a good toss to give it fresher look and flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this ahead of time?

It’s possible to make this recipe ahead of time. I suggest you add the tomatoes and basil at the very last minute before serving to prevent them from getting watery. Besides that, you can make the rest of the salad easily beforehand. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper to refresh the salad before serving.

How can I make vegan caprese pasta salad?

These days you can find vegan mozzarella in many supermarkets which you can use to make this pasta salad vegan.

How to keep the cooked pasta from sticking?

Rinse the cooked pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process, and drizzle some olive oil on the pasta and stir it to prevent it from sticking together.

Can I make this pasta salad for a crowd?

Simply double or triple this recipe and taste as you go to make sure it has enough seasoning. 

More Salad Recipes

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5 from 17 votes

Caprese Pasta Salad

This caprese pasta salad only needs a few ingredients, yet is super tasty. Made with fresh mozzarella cheese and juicy tomatoes, this pasta salad is an ideal side dish.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
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Ingredients 

  • 1 lb bow tie pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella , cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought

Instructions 

  • Cook bow tie pasta according to the packaging. Rinse with cold water and drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir well to prevent sticking. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl.
  • Add the mozzarella and tomatoes to the pasta.
  • Chop the basil leaves and add them to the pasta salad.
  • Mix the ingredients gently using a spoon.
  • Add the olive oil, garlic and pesto to the salad. Mix well.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve cold.

Video

Notes

  1. You can use any kind of pasta you have at hand such as penne, rigatoni, or macaroni. 
  2. Either homemade pesto or store-bought would work for this recipe. 
  3. You can add more or less mozzarella. You can also use mozzarella pearls for this recipe.
  4. Add more pesto if you like your caprese pasta salad to have a stronger flavor. 
  5. Leave out pesto and add balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic glaze, olive oil, salt and pepper) if you’re not a pesto fan. 
  6. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to the salad if it looks dry. 

Nutrition

Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 379mg | Potassium: 316mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1060IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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5 from 17 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh, this is really delicious ! You’re right – it tastes great on everything! Was so tired of pesto and we have sooooo much basil!Thank you

  2. 5 stars
    The Caprese salad sounds delightful with both pesto and balsamic! Love that you used farfalle pasta – makes it look so festive!

  3. 5 stars
    I love a good Caprese and this looks phenomenal. I can totally swap out the pasta with a GF version. And I really love all your ideas to change things up…think I’m torn between the avocado and the shrimp! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    This is such a tasty looking pasta salad. I can’t decide which of the flavours I’d go for first – pesto or balsamic!

  5. 5 stars
    Caprese anything is a winner in my book. This sounds delicious. I love the pesto twist as I usually go with balsamic.