Easy Pasta Salad with No Mayo

Stay cool this summer with this Pasta Salad without Mayo. This simple and refreshing recipe, features a light Italian dressing, making it a perfect side dish for a backyard barbecue or a quick lunch option.

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Overhead image of a pasta salad without mayo in a bowl.

Grain-based salads like this Pasta Salad without mayonnaise are great for a potluck or picnic. Other faves include this Street Corn Pasta Salad or this is this Trail Mix Salad. We have lots of Salad Recipes so check them out for inspiration.

Why we love this recipe

  • This is a wonderful pasta salad recipe to make in the spring and summer using fresh, seasonal vegetables from the garden or farmer’s market.
  • It is a lighter and more nutritious alternative to traditional mayo-based salads.
  • This salad is a convenient dish that can be prepared ahead of time and served cold or at room temperature. This makes it a popular prepping choice for potlucks, picnics, barbecues, and other gatherings.
Overhead view of a bowl of pasta salad without mayo.

Ingredients 

  • penne pasta – a variety of pasta can be used in this recipe like rotini, fusilli, or use elbow noodles to make macaroni salad – always popular. Substitute gluten-free pasta if needed. We recommend brown rice pasta.
  • fresh vegetables – you can use an array of different vegetables for this recipe. We love cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and romaine lettuce but you could substitute bell peppers, spring peas, shredded carrots, chopped broccoli or cauliflower, and sliced celery. We also love fresh herbs such as basil, dill, or parsley. Load up the bowl!
  • parmesan cheese – crumbled feta cheese is a lovely substitute for grated parmesan cheese.
  • shallot – if you don’t have a shallot, a teaspoon of finely minced red onion works well also.
  • oil – we use MCT oil for our dressing these days but extra virgin olive oil is also good.
  • white vinegar – substitute red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of white vinegar for a different flavor.
  • Italian seasoning – this is a mix of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
  • sea salt + black pepper
Ingredients on a counter.

Equipment

Instructions

Step 1

Start by cooking the pasta.

Boil a large pot of salted water and follow the package instructions. We like a bit of bite to our pasta so we cook it al dente. You don’t want to have mushy pasta salad.

Next, drain and rinse the cooked pasta and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

Cooked noodles cooling on a baking sheet.

Step 2

Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, chop the vegetables and grate the parmesan cheese.

Step 3

Then, add the pasta salad dressing ingredients to a small mason jar with a lid and shake it really well.

Dressing ingredients in a small mason jar.

Step 4

Next, add the cooled pasta, the chopped vegetables, and the parmesan cheese to a large bowl and stir.

Cooked noodles and chopped vegetables in a bowl.

Step 5

Finally, shake the dressing once more, and pour it over the ingredients in the bowl.

Toss the salad well to coat all of the ingredients with the dressing.

Dressing being poured on ingredients in a bowl.

Expert tip

After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly.

This helps to prevent the pasta from sticking together while still maintaining a firm texture.

Overhead image of a pasta salad without mayonnaise in a bowl.

Recipe variations

  • Create a Mediterranean-style tuna salad by adding kalamata olives, feta cheese, and flaked tuna.
  • Make this a chicken salad by adding cold shredded chicken and adding a bit of Dijon mustard to the dressing. We love to use leftover rotisserie!
  • Boost the protein and make this a complete meal by serving grilled shrimp or prawns alongside it.
  • Put a Tex-Mex spin on it by adding black beans, white beans, corn kernels, diced bell peppers, salsa, and chopped cilantro.
  • Make it dairy-free and leave off the cheese for a vegan pasta salad.
  • Looking for a creamier version? This Deviled Egg Pasta Salad is a classic side dish and we love it for cookouts.

Serving suggestions

FAQS

Is pasta salad suitable for a potluck or picnic?

Yes, pasta salad is an excellent option. It travels well, and you can make a large batch to feed a crowd. Not having mayo in this salad makes it even more ideal as it won’t spoil in the heat.

Can pasta salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, we actually recommended it! Making it a few hours or even a day in advance allows the flavors to meld together, boosting the taste. Just store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Storage tips

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • We do not recommend freezing pasta salad. Pasta can become mushy, and the vegetables may not hold up well after thawing.
Overhead image of a pasta salad without mayo in a bowl.

More salad recipes 

a bowl of fattoush salad.

Fattoush Salad with Dressing

a bowl of spring onion potato salad.

Spring Onion Potato Salad

a plate of chicken taco salad.

Easy Chicken Taco Salad

A bowl of Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

**This recipe was originally posted on April 26, 2022, and updated on July 21, 2023.**

If you’ve tried our Pasta Salad no Mayo, please rate the recipe and let us know how it turned out by leaving me a comment below. I’m always interested in feedback!

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A pasta salad without mayo in a bowl.

Easy Pasta Salad – No Mayo!

Sharon Rhodes
 Stay cool this summer with this Pasta Salad without Mayo. This simple and refreshing recipe, features a light Italian dressing, making it a perfect side dish for a backyard barbecue or a quick lunch option.
4.96 from 75 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 358 kcal

Ingredients
  

FOR THE SALAD

  • 2 cups dry penne pasta
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced cucumber
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

FOR THE DRESSING

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta noodles according to the package directions. Once it is cooked, drain and rinse the pasta with cold water and spread it on a baking sheet to cool.
  • Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and grate the cheese.
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a small mason jar with a lid and shake really well.
  • Place all of the salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Shake the dressing again and pour over the salad ingredients. Stir really well to coat everything with the dressing.
  • Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge until serving.

Video

Notes

Storage tips

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • We do not recommend freezing pasta salad. Pasta can become mushy, and the vegetables may not hold up well after thawing.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 358kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 12gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 177mgPotassium: 183mgFiber: 7gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1654IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 1mg
Keyword pasta salad without mayo
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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Serving this for my daughter’s birthday this weekend! Looks too good to pass up; will make an excellent side dish, indeed!

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