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23 Spins on Summer’s Laziest Dinner

Updated April 28, 2020
It’s a delicious main dish, it’s a super-fast side, it’s a clean-out-the-fridge meal—easy pasta salad is one of the most intuitive dishes you can make.
You don’t necessarily need to know which odds and ends are lingering in the veggie drawer or whether there’s any leftover chicken to know that pasta salad will fit the bill on any given night. Just put the water on to boil and while you’re at it, save all 23 of these pasta salad recipes. A recipe pinned or printed now makes for a quicker dinner later, which means more time on the patio and less in the kitchen!

The basic formula for making pasta salad is simple, so memorize these tips and yours will always be top notch:

  • Short pastas work best in pasta salad. Try penne, rotini, shells, wagon wheels or whatever else you keep on hand.
  • 6 to 7 ounces of uncooked pasta will yield 4 cups of cooked pasta and serve 4 to 6 people.
  • Always follow package directions to cook pasta al dente, which means tender but firm to the bite.
  • Unless specified, do not rinse pasta after draining or sauces won’t cling. Sometimes pasta is rinsed for cold salads, so follow your recipe.
  • Chilling in the fridge makes your pasta salad even better as it allows the flavors to develop. Follow the chill time specified in your recipe.
  • To give your pasta salad an extra bright zing, add a sprinkle of chopped, fresh herbs or squeeze of citrus before serving.

Want to create your very own pasta salad recipe? We’ve got an easy framework you can follow so it’s just a matter of slotting in the ingredients you have and seasonings you desire.