Easy Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing
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.
Why You Must Make
Picnic season has arrived! Of course, in 2020 there were not many gatherings 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.
- It’s 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!).
- The creamy salad dressing is terrific! The combination of yogurt and mayo is so much tastier than mayonnaise alone.
- It’s perfect for all your summer entertaining!
- Use your favorite pasta shapes like shells, rotini, tubetti.
- Add or eliminate any veggies as you see fit.
- Add cubes of your favorite cheeses like Cheddar, Colby jack, Monterey jack, Gouda, etc.
- Don’t use plain mayonnaise as the base of your salad dressing.
- I like to cut the mayo with plain yogurt or sour cream to make it taste a little more homemade.
- Adding some sweet pickle relish, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper gives a boost of flavor.
- Give the pasta salad flavors time to meld by mixing early in the day.
Frequently Asked Questions:
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.
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 drained 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!
The truth is that making the dressing is super easy! If you can measure and whisk, you can do it. Both a creamy mayonnaise-based pasta salad dressing and a vinaigrette are so much better if you make them from scratch.
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 that does not separate.
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.
You May Also Like
- Cucina Bean Salad from Cooking on the Ranch
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Summer Farro Salad
- Cherry Orange Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
- Summer Vegetable Salad
- Marinated Vegetable Salad
- More of the Best Salad Recipes
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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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 384mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g
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15 Comments on “Easy Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing”
This was the perfect side dish with our pulled pork sandwiches.
I love the dressing on this pasta salad! The yogurt adds great flavor and lightness. Fabulous!
I love the combination of flavors in this salad! It is so good!
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 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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. 🙂 ~Valentina
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!
We love pasta salad and I like the addition of the cheese cubes. Sounds absolutely delicious .
What a beautifully colourful salad, perfect for a summer picnic lunch or dinner. I love your pro tips, always so helpful.
I’ve been on a bit of a relish kick lately, sounds good in the mac salad! Have a nice week Liz:@)
Love this pasta salad Lizzy ! Looks absolutely
Such a colourful, delicious and comforting pasta salad! Perfect for lunch in those hot summer days.