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Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad with juicy tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil is a great salad for the summer. It’s light and cool, loaded with fresh flavors Italian cold pasta recipe, and goes great with grilled meats or all on its own for an easy meal.

Caprese pasta in a glass bowl.


I look forward to a lot of things during the summer and one of them is pasta salads. They’re easy to make and satisfy a pasta craving without a lot of work. This caprese pasta salad has everything I love about caprese salad but served as a delicious cool pasta salad instead.

What is caprese pasta salad?

It has the same ingredients as a traditional caprese salad – fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil but with pasta added in. It’s served cold or at room temperature and is perfect for a warm summer day.

I also love to make my hot caprese pasta but not when it’s very warm. During the summer, it’s all about cold pasta for me!

This is a great recipe to make for potlucks, a picnic, or cookouts. I love it as a side dish for grilled chicken and steak or just serve it on its own with some delicious homemade Italian bread on the side.

Pasta salad in a glass bowl and on a plate.


  • Pasta – Most short pasta shapes are good. I like to use spiral pasta, bowties, or gemelli for this recipe. Penne would also work well.
  • Basil pesto – This is optional, but adds a nice flavor. You can use Homemade Pesto or store bought.
  • Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes – halve them first before you add them to the salad.
  • Fresh mozzarella – cut it into bite-sized pieces. Or you can use mozzarella pearls which are small balls.
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt

Recipe Steps

Mix the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oregano, oil and salt in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the juices from the tomatoes to mix with the seasonings for the best flavor.

The tomatoes mixed with basil, oregano and oil in a bowl.

Boil the pasta in a large pot until al dente. Drain it and let it cool. Add the cooled pasta and pesto to the tomato mixture. Toss to combine.

The cooked pasta mixed with pesto.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the pasta salad for at least one hour before serving it.

Should you rinse pasta for pasta salad?

No, you should never rinse pasta. Instead, you should drain it and then let it cool. To keep the pasta from sticking, toss it with pesto or olive oil.

Can you make this salad ahead?

You can make it up to a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. If the salad is a little dry before you serve it, toss it with a little extra pesto or olive oil.

Pasta salad in a glass bowl and on a plate.

​Other Mix-Ins to Add

This caprese pasta salad is delicious as is, but you can add other mix-ins if you like. These aren’t things you’ll find in a traditional caprese, but they are good! Here are some ideas:

  • Add some chopped toasted pine nuts.
  • Sprinkle in some freshly ground black pepper.
  • You might like some chopped roasted garlic.
  • Mix in some grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Add a little balsamic vinegar or drizzle in some balsamic glaze.
  • If you want to make it a filling main dish, add a protein like grilled chicken.

It’s not summer until you make a pasta salad, so give this caprese pasta salad recipe a try soon. It’s so light and the flavor combination is so good. Buon Appetito!

Pasta salad in a white plate.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Caprese pasta in a glass bowl.

Italian Caprese Pasta Salad

Rosemary Molloy
Caprese Pasta Salad with juicy tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil is a great salad for the summer. It's light and cool, loaded with fresh flavors, and goes great with grilled meats or all on its own for an easy meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 488 kcal


  • 25 cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 9-10 ounces fresh mozzarella (large chopped or small balls halved) 300
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil chopped (or more if desired)
  • ¼-½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼-½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked al dente pasta (butterfly, spiral or gemelli pasta)
  • 2-3 tablespoons pesto (optional)*

*You can use Homemade Pesto or store bought.


    • In a medium bowl mix together the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oregano, salt and oil. Let sit 30 minutes.
    • In a large bowl combine the slightly cooled al dente pasta and pesto. Add the tomato mixture and gently combine well. Cover well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!



    Never rinse pasta, if you do not use pesto, then to keep the pasta from sticking while it cools, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and stir to mix thoroughly.
    Store the leftover pasta salad in the fridge in an air tight container. I t will last up to 3 -5 days in the fridge.  If the salad develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears, it should be discarded.


    Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 628mg | Potassium: 335mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1137IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 357mg | Iron: 3mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!


    1. 5 stars
      I added balsamic glaze to my individual servings like you said you could try doing. I loved the turnout! It was so delicious!

    2. 5 stars
      I tried this salad and used the all the ingredients.
      I felt like I needed vinegar..so I added artichoke hearts. It gave that extra special taste.

    3. 5 stars
      I made this for family, they loved it. The only change for me is to add more pesto. I served it with fusilli and it needed more pesto because of the crevices. Easy to prepare ahead too!

    4. 5 stars
      I love this pasta salad and I made it for a large group that went crazy for it!
      Thank you, Rosemary!

    5. 5 stars
      Summer in New Jersey is all about finding ways to use the best of the best Jersey tomatoes and pasta salad is king around here. I always hold my fresh mozzarella out til just before serving to keep the moss nice and creamy and soft. The milky texture adds extra “sauce” to the pasta. Love your site so much, enjoy the summer!

      1. Hi Licia, yes I agree nothing like pasta salad. Good idea with the mozzarella. Thanks so much, so glad you enjoy the site. Take care and have a wonderful Summer you too.

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