Filled with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, Caprese Pasta Salad is bursting with flavor and freshness! It is a simple recipe you will want to make all summer long!
If you enjoy Caprese Salad made with juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella, you will love this recipe for Caprese Pasta Salad.
Made with the same flavor profile as a classic Caprese Salad, this pasta salad is bursting with flavor from the combination of fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and a Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette. It is hearty, tangy, creamy, and vibrant. Simply delicious.
And good news, this Caprese Pasta Salad is actually incredibly easy to make. Meaning you can enjoy it all summer long. And trust me, you will want to be making this recipe on repeat.
Notes on Ingredients
It only takes a handful of ingredients to make Caprese Pasta Salad. The secret to imparting huge flavor is using ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, vibrant basil, and a homemade balsamic dressing.
- Pasta: When making a pasta salad, you want to think about choosing a type of noodle that is easy to grab with a fork and has a large enough surface area to grab and hold onto the dressing. I recommend using bow tie, rotini, cavatelli, or corkscrew pasta.
- Tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes are best for this pasta salad as they are delicious year-round, bite-sized, and don't contain a lot of seeds that can water down the pasta salad. Feel free to use Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes if that is what you have on hand, but I would highly recommend removing the seeds before dicing them up and adding the pasta salad.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella has the best flavor for the Caprese Pasta Salad. I prefer mozzarella balls or pearls for presentation, but you can dice up a large ball of fresh mozzarella as well. If you only have shredded mozzarella or a block of mozzarella cheese, don't let it stop you from making this pasta salad--it will still be delicious.
- Balsamic Dressing: While you can certainly use a bottle of prepared salad dressing, it is incredibly easy to make a balsamic dressing yourself and you likely have all the ingredients on hand to whip it up.
How To Make Caprese Pasta Salad
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Once the water has come to a boil, season the water with kosher salt and cook the noodles according to package directions, or until just al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the balsamic dressing by whisking the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, onion powder, molasses, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl until incorporated.
- Once the pasta is fully cooked, drain the pasta in a colander, but do NOT rinse the cooked pasta. This removes all the starch that helps the dressing stick to the pasta, not to mention the flavor of the pasta.
- Place the cooked noodles into a large mixing bowl, add half the dressing, and toss to coat.
- At this point, you want to let your noodles cool before adding the remaining ingredients. To speed up the process, I recommend spreading the pasta out onto a sheet pan. This will allow the heat to dissipate faster and the pasta to cool quickly.
- While the pasta is cooling, wash and cut the tomatoes, chop the mozzarella if needed, and chiffonade the basil. To chiffonade the basil, roll the basil leaves together in the shape of a log and thinly slice them into strips.
- Once the pasta is at room temperature or just slightly warm to the touch, return the noodles to the large mixing bowl. Add in the remaining dressing, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
- Toss to coat everything together.
- I find that it is best to refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 30 minutes prior to serving, as this will allow the flavors of the pasta salad to marry together.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use your favorite gluten-free pasta to enjoy this Caprese Pasta Salad without added gluten.
- Make it Egg-Free: A lot of noodles are made with eggs. Check to be sure you use egg-free noodles if you are preparing this for anyone with an egg allergy.
- Make it Heartier: I love adding grilled chicken or flavored grilled chicken sausage to this pasta salad. It turns a delicious side dish into a hearty meal.
More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
Whether looking for a stunning pot-luck dish to share or a side dish for your next barbecue, I hope you give this Caprese Pasta Salad a try! And if you do give it a try, be sure to leave a review and comment below.
Caprese Pasta Salad
For the Caprese Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces pasta bow-tie, rotini, corkscrew, etc
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls
- 8 basil leaves sliced into ribbons
For the Balsamic Dressing
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Salt well and cook the pasta according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing by whisking together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, molasses, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic together until well combined.
- Once the noodles are cooked, drain but do not rinse the pasta, Toss the drained noodles with half of the prepared dressing in a large mixing bowl. Allow the noodles to cool at room temperature for 10-20 minutes, until they are just slightly warm or at room temperature. Speed up the process, by spreading the pasta out onto a sheet pan.
- Once the pasta is at room temperature or just slightly warm to the touch, return the noodles to the large mixing bowl. Add in the remaining dressing, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, and toss to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. Once chilled, toss the pasta salad again and serve.
This post was originally published in 2018 but was updated in 2022 with new tips and photos.