Best Pasta Salad

Best Pasta Salad


  • 12 oz bow tie pasta
  • 1 cup Kraft creamy Italian dressing
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup pepperoni slices, quartered
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kinder’s no salt BBQ blend seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground Italian seasoning


  1. Cook the Pasta:
    • Cook the bow tie pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
    • Drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta quickly. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the Ingredients:
    • Dice the cucumber and quarter the pepperoni slices.
    • Shred the Parmesan and Colby Jack cheeses if not pre-shredded.
  3. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, diced cucumber, quartered pepperoni slices, shredded Parmesan cheese, and shredded Colby Jack cheese.
    • Pour in the Kraft creamy Italian dressing and mix well to coat all the ingredients.
  4. Season the Salad:
    • Add the freshly ground black pepper, Kinder’s no salt BBQ blend seasoning, and freshly ground Italian seasoning.
    • Toss the salad to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed and coated with the seasoning.
  5. Chill and Serve:
    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
    • Serve chilled and enjoy!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes (including chilling time)
Servings: 6-8

Most Popular Questions and Their Answers

  1. Can I use a different type of pasta? Yes, you can use any pasta shape you prefer, such as rotini, penne, or fusilli.
  2. Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time? Absolutely! This pasta salad can be made up to a day in advance. Just keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.
  3. What other vegetables can I add? You can add cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, or olives for more variety and flavor.
  4. Is there a substitute for Kraft creamy Italian dressing? If you can’t find Kraft creamy Italian dressing, any creamy Italian or Caesar dressing will work as a substitute.
  5. Can I use a different type of cheese? Yes, feel free to use other cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, or provolone according to your preference.
  6. How long can the pasta salad be stored in the refrigerator? The pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  7. Can I make this pasta salad gluten-free? Yes, simply use gluten-free pasta and ensure that the dressing and seasonings are gluten-free.
  8. What can I use instead of pepperoni for a vegetarian version? You can replace pepperoni with grilled vegetables, chickpeas, or cubed tofu for a vegetarian option.
  9. Can I add a protein to this pasta salad? Adding cooked chicken, ham, or shrimp can make this pasta salad more filling.
  10. How do I prevent the pasta from sticking together? Rinse the cooked pasta with cold water and toss it with a small amount of olive oil before mixing with other ingredients.
  11. Can I use fresh herbs instead of dried Italian seasoning? Yes, fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley can be used for a more vibrant flavor.
  12. What if I don’t have Kinder’s no salt BBQ blend seasoning? You can skip it or use any other seasoning blend you like, such as a garlic herb or Cajun seasoning.
  13. How do I adjust the seasoning if it’s too bland? Add more salt, pepper, or additional Italian seasoning to taste.
  14. Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of freshly squeezed lemon juice? Freshly squeezed lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, but bottled lemon juice can be used in a pinch.
  15. Can I add nuts or seeds for extra crunch? Yes, adding toasted pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or almonds can give a nice crunch to the salad.
  16. Is it necessary to chill the pasta salad before serving? Chilling the pasta salad allows the flavors to meld together, enhancing the overall taste.
  17. Can I use low-fat or fat-free dressing? Yes, you can use low-fat or fat-free dressing if you prefer a lighter version of this salad.
  18. What’s the best way to transport this pasta salad to a picnic or potluck? Store the pasta salad in an airtight container and keep it chilled in a cooler with ice packs until serving time.
  19. Can I add fruit to this pasta salad? While unusual, you can add fruits like grapes or apple slices for a sweet and savory twist.
  20. How do I keep the cucumbers from making the salad watery? Remove the seeds from the cucumber before dicing, or use English cucumbers, which have fewer seeds and are less watery.

Secrets to Achieve the Perfect Pasta Salad

  1. Cook Pasta Al Dente:
    • Cook the pasta until it’s just tender but still firm to the bite (al dente). Overcooked pasta will become mushy when mixed with the dressing.
  2. Cool the Pasta:
    • After cooking, rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down. This prevents the pasta from getting mushy.
  3. Season the Pasta:
    • Season the pasta water generously with salt to ensure the pasta itself is flavorful.
  4. Use Fresh Ingredients:
    • Use fresh, high-quality vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients for the best flavor and texture.
  5. Balance of Flavors:
    • Ensure a good balance of salty, sweet, tangy, and savory flavors in your salad by using a variety of ingredients and a well-balanced dressing.
  6. Right Dressing:
    • Use a dressing that complements your ingredients. Creamy dressings work well with hearty salads, while vinaigrettes are great for lighter versions.
  7. Dress the Pasta While Warm:
    • Toss the pasta with a small amount of dressing while it’s still warm to allow the pasta to absorb more flavor.
  8. Add Crunch:
    • Incorporate crunchy elements like diced bell peppers, cucumbers, or nuts to add texture to your salad.
  9. Herbs for Freshness:
    • Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, dill, or cilantro can elevate the flavor and add a fresh element to your pasta salad.
  10. Marinate for Flavor:
  • Allow the salad to sit for at least an hour before serving. This gives the flavors time to meld together.
  1. Use a Variety of Colors:
  • Incorporate a mix of colorful vegetables and ingredients for visual appeal and nutritional benefits.
  1. Cheese Variety:
  • Add different types of cheese like feta, mozzarella, or Parmesan to enhance the flavor profile.
  1. Protein Boost:
  • Include proteins like grilled chicken, shrimp, ham, or chickpeas to make the salad more filling and nutritious.
  1. Correct Ratio of Ingredients:
  • Ensure a good pasta-to-ingredient ratio so that every bite has a mix of pasta and other ingredients.
  1. Homemade Dressing:
  • Make your own dressing for better control over flavors and to avoid preservatives and unnecessary additives.
  1. Avoid Overdressing:
  • Add dressing gradually and mix well to avoid overdressing, which can make the salad soggy.
  1. Freshly Ground Spices:
  • Use freshly ground black pepper and other spices for a more intense and fresh flavor.
  1. Citrus Zest:
  • Add a bit of citrus zest like lemon or lime for a bright, fresh flavor.
  1. Toss Before Serving:
  • Toss the salad again just before serving to redistribute the dressing and ingredients.
  1. Proper Storage:
  • Store the pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For the best flavor and texture, consume within a couple of days.