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Easy Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

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This Easy Pasta Salad is the classic summer picnic side dish, filled with fresh vegetables, cheese chunks and tossed in a creamy yogurt dressing!

Any Macaroni Salad Recipe can be tweaked with your favorite ingredients, personalizing it for your family or guests. This vegetarian pasta salad can be transformed for meat lovers with chunks of salami, pepperoni slices or chicken.

Easy Pasta Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing in a white ceramic serving bowl

Easy Pasta Salad

Picnic season has arrived! Of course, in 2020 there’s not much gathering of friends. But we did sit out on our back porch, sharing take out pizza with a couple of our dear friends. An old-fashioned macaroni salad recipe sounded both comforting and seasonal, so I decided to add it to our simple dinner menu.

Easily adaptable, I added some extras like frozen and defrosted green peas, bell peppers and cucumbers. Diced cheese added a pop of orange to the mix along with some protein. And tubetti pasta instead of macaroni was a fun twist (and what I had in the pantry!).

Small bowl of macaroni salad

Pasta Salad Dressing

When making chicken salad or tuna salad, I have always cut the mayonnaise in the dressing with yogurt to make it taste more homemade and less like it was right from the jar! A little sweet pickle relish, Dijon mustard, a touch of sugar plus salt and pepper round out the flavors.

All the ingredients are whisked together, then tossed with the pasta and add ins. How easy is that?? Very!

Overhead view of Vegetarian Pasta Salad


Not Sure How to Make Pasta Salad? Here is some help:

What are the best pasta salad ingredients?

The options are endless, but since it’s a “pasta salad,” you must use pasta and a salad dressing. And both of those have many options, too. Any bite-sized pasta noodles and either a creamy salad dressing or a vinaigrette will work well.

The add-ins are up to you. Just think of the favorite macaroni salads you’ve eaten over the years. Mix in diced vegetables, cheese, olives, cold cuts like salami and pepperoni, chopped chicken or beef, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried or fresh tomatoes, and on and on.

How to make a pasta salad

PRO-Tip: First cook the pasta, drain and cool it in a bowl of ice water. This prevents it from sticking together. Then make the salad dressing.

Chop all the vegetables and other ingredients, keeping the sizes consistent with the size of your pasta.

Mix together the pasta, the other ingredients, and the salad dressing, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. PRO-Tip: Chilling for at least an hour will allow the flavors to meld and improve the taste!

How long can you keep the leftovers?

If you haven’t kept the salad out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it will keep well in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Pasta salad does not freeze well.

How do you make a macaroni salad dressing?

The truth is that making the dressing is super easy! If you can measure and whisk, you can do it. Both a creamy mayonnaise base pasta salad dressing and a vinaigrette are so much better if you make them at home.

To make a creamy pasta salad dressing, put all ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together until smooth. To make a vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking continuously until the mixture emulsifies, or comes together into a smooth consistency which does not separate.

Easy pasta salad recipe in a small white bow with a red handled fork

More Summer Salads You’ll Love

Small bowl of macaroni salad

Easy Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

An easily adaptable Pasta Salad with a creamy yogurt mayonnaise dressing


  • 2 cups uncooked pasta, like tubetti, elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's recommended)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar, optional (optional, I think it's fine without, but add if you like a sweeter dressing)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced celery
  • 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup diced mini cucumbers (or English cucumber)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup minced onion, soak in ice water for 15 minutes, then drain
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes


Cook the pasta in well-salted water according to the package instructions. Drain and place in a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain.

Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, yogurt, relish, mustard, and seasonings.

Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add most of the salad dressing and toss to coat the pasta. Add the cheese and vegetables and toss again.

Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed.


Adapted from Taste of Home.

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12 comments on “Easy Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing”

  1. Such a colourful, delicious and comforting pasta salad! Perfect for lunch in those hot summer days.

  2. I’ve been on a bit of a relish kick lately, sounds good in the mac salad! Have a nice week Liz:@)

  3. What a beautifully colourful salad, perfect for a summer picnic lunch or dinner. I love your pro tips, always so helpful.

  4. We love pasta salad and I like the addition of the cheese cubes. Sounds absolutely delicious .

  5. We love pasta salad at this time of the year (in fact we’re doing one this week, too — great minds!). Love that dressing — tangy yogurt works incredibly well in dishes like this. Thanks!

  6. So colorful and yummy. This salad makes me want to organize a picnic as soon as soon as it’s safe to get together with groups again. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Valentina

  7. Dear Liz, love your Summer Pasta salad – it is colorful, chock full of veggies and I love that you added sweet pickle relish, that must add a nice flavor to your dressing. Also the fact that you did half yogurt, half mayonnasie must make the dressing nice and fresh tasting.
    A delightful summer lunch salad!
    Hope you are all doing well, my friend!

  8. I’m a huge fan of pasta salads; however, I’m not into those that loaded with heavy mayo dressing. So this lighter yogurt-based one totally works for me! Also, not many people add cheese into pasta salads (What a shame!), so I appreciate the addition of cheddar. Delicious!

  9. I absolutely LOVE picnic foods, and this is exactly what this reminds me of… Love the salad. I never think to use yogurt instead of a sour cream and mayo combo.

  10. I know that people often say “I’m making this” gratuitously, but I actually am making this … today. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’m going to add some tuna.

    • Jeff, when a food blogger makes one of my recipes, that’s a HUGE compliment! I hope you enjoy—adding tuna sounds wonderful! I’d be making that my lunch all week long ๐Ÿ™‚

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