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Caprese Pasta Salad

With its bright colors and fresh flavors, this Caprese Pasta Salad will be a hit at any party. It’s super easy to throw together and can be made in advance.

caprese pasta salad with mozzarella and pesto.
Caprese Pasta Salad is the perfect healthy side to pass around at potlucks and family gatherings.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

Nothing screams summer more than a fresh, flavorful pasta salad, and this Caprese Pasta Salad is the best:

  • Less Than 30 Minutes: This salad comes together in less than 30 minutes – great for both busy weeknight dinners and summer potlucks.
  • No Mayo or Cream: While most pasta salads use a mayo base, this one relies on fresh herbs for flavor. It’s full of only the good stuff!
  • Pesto Sauce: We make a delicious basil pesto that shines! If you love basil, you’ll love our Classic Caprese Salad,
  • Keeps Well: This healthy pasta salad keeps extremely well. The parsley in the pesto sauce keeps the salad bright and vibrant for longer than average.

Key Recipe Ingredients

sliced fresh mozzarella on a wooden cutting board with tomatoes and basil on the side
  • Fresh Herbs – We use both fresh basil and flat leaf parsley for a vibrant, bursting-with-flavor pesto sauce.
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil acts as the base for our pesto and adds tons of healthy fats to this dish.
  • White Balsamic – White balsamic vinegar is slightly sweeter and lighter than regular balsamic.
  • Aromatics – Shallots and garlic bring sweet and spicy notes to this salad.
  • Pasta – We like using fusilli or rotini pasta for Caprese Pasta Salad.
  • Mini Mozzarella Balls – We prefer mini mozzarella balls over regular sized, as they’re easier to prep; but feel free to use whatever mozzarella you prefer.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes add the perfect little bursts of sweetness to this dish.

Substitutions And Variations

One of our favorite things about salads is that the options for variations are endless. Here are some of our favorite for Caprese Pasta Salad:

  • Add Protein: To make this a complete meal, simply add a protein of your choice. Try incorporating this Grilled Lemon Chicken or this 10-Minute Garlic Shrimp. We also think chopped pepperoni would go amazingly here.
  • Add Balsamic Glaze: Craving even more balsamic flavor? Drizzle on some of this sweet and tangy Balsamic Glaze.
  • Add More Veggies: Feel free to sprinkle in as many veggies to this pasta salad as you like. We especially love sliced avocado, chopped spinach, or diced cucumber.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse all pesto ingredients until combined. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain without rinsing and place in a bowl. Coat pasta with a sprinkle of olive oil.
  3. Chop remaining ingredients and toss into pasta along with pesto sauce. Enjoy!

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

Caprese Pasta Salad is the perfect make-ahead dish. Check out our favorite prep ahead strategies for this recipe:

  • Make the Pesto: The basil pesto can be made up to 24 hours in advance. The colors may darken a bit, but the flavor will still be tremendous! Just store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Cook the Pasta: Cooked pasta will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Chop the Veggies: The tomatoes and mozzarella balls can be halved and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.
  • Make the Whole Salad: Leftovers of Caprese Pasta Salad will keep fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days – perfect for a meal prep lunch or side!
caprese pasta salad with  mozzarella and pesto.

What To Serve With Caprese Pasta Salad




  • Want some extra greens to serve alongside this pasta salad? Try this recipe for Perfect Air Fryer Broccoli.
  • Take advantage of grilling and gardening season with this Grilled Zucchini. It pairs wonderfully with Caprese salad.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Caprese Salad Healthy?

Yes, caprese salad is on the healthier side, as there is no creamy or fatty dressing involved. Our recipe uses only extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

What do you serve caprese salad with?

We love this caprese pasta salad with grilled meats. See above section for ideas of easy, tasty grilled chicken, pork chops, or shrimp.

Can I make caprese salad in advance?

Yes! We recommend keeping the basil pesto in a separate container from the cooked pasta, until ready to toss and serve.

Do leftovers keep well?

One of the best things about this caprese pasta salad is that it keeps extremely well. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Why add parsley to the basil pesto?

Because basil tends to lose its brilliant color in the sauce after 24 hours, parsley helps to retain the color, as well as provide extra flavor.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

caprese pasta salad with mozzarella and pesto.

Caprese Pasta Salad

5 from 5 ratings
This Caprese Pasta Salad is simple, full of good nutritious ingredients, and tastes even better than it looks! The flavors meld together into a refreshing and pure pasta salad. It keeps very well chilled in the fridge.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Amy Dong


For the Basil Pesto: 

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 lb dry fusilli pasta, or rotini
  • 8 oz mini mozzarella balls , or "pearl" mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, or grape, seeded and halved
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped green olives with pimientos


  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add more kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Set aside or wrap tightly and chill until ready to use.
  • In a large heavy pot, bring well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta just until al dente, according to instructions, taking care not to cook past that.
  • Drain fully but do not rinse. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil, tossing so pasta is thinly coated. Let pasta cool to room temperature.
  • When ready to serve, toss in the mozzarella halves, tomato halves, and optional olives, if using them.
  • Add basil pesto and continue to lightly toss until well combined. Leftovers may be covered and chilled up to 3 days.


  • If making this dish in advance, we suggest keeping pasta and sauce in separate containers until ready to toss and serve.
  • Note that the basil pesto may dull somewhat in color after 24 hours, but flavor remains the same.
  • For gluten-free version, use your favorite gluten-free rotini style pasta.
  • Serve with an extra sprinkle of Balsamic Glaze and Juicy Grilled Chicken Breast.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 474kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 381mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1.871IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Salad, Side
Cuisine: Italian American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: Stovetop

More To Cook And Eat

  • Grilled Chicken Caprese Salad – This Chicken Caprese Salad is covered with a heavenly honey balsamic dressing that we can’t get enough of.
  • Peach Caprese Salad – Peach Caprese Salad is a refreshing recipe all summer long – sweet, fresh, and flavorful!
  • Tortellini Pasta Salad – Tortellini Pasta Salad with pesto sauce, tomatoes, and mozzarella showcases the brilliant flavors of fresh homemade pesto.
  • Strawberry Caprese Salad – This fresh summer salad is simple yet stunning – juicy strawberries come together with the best balsamic glaze imaginable.
5 from 5 votes (1 rating without comment)

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Monica Simpson

    I love caprese salad. I have never added pesto to it. It sounds so delicious! I will be trying this for sure.

    • Tara Pittman

    This is a salad that my husband would like. He would love the basil flavor.

    • Danielle

    Yum. This looks so good. I’d love to take it to a cookout.

      • chewoutloud


    • Sonia Seivwright

    I love pesto pasta, so I’ll definitely try this basil pesto.

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Sonia!

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