My wife when I told her I was working on a new pasta lunch for kids. “You know very well our kids would never eat that!” Well, she was partially right. If all these flavors are mixed up, it is a tough sell for kids, but the nice thing about this pizza pasta salad is you can keep the add-ins separate or stir them in! 

I actually served this to our family after a busy night out at the indoor soccer fields and both of our kids happily ate it – albeit in separate pieces. Plus, I thought it was better than expected once you drizzle on some homemade vinaigrette and top with some red pepper flakes for a little kick! 

Kids WILL absolutely eat this and it turns out it is a wonderful packed lunch pasta salad! 

What pastas work well for this salad?

I’m far from a pasta gate-keeper. You want to make this with spaghetti? Be my guest. I won’t tell you no. But, I think the best pastas for this salad will be in the tubular form. 

I used a fusilli on this occasion which I think works well. I’ve used a cavatappi pasta before for similar pasta salads. 

If you happen to have a box of penne pasta or even elbow macaroni in your pantry, you can use those without too much issue I think. 

How to cook the pasta for this salad

As with any pasta salad, the key is to not overcook the pasta. If you do the whole thing will turn into a goopy mess. 

Cook the pasta in salted water for a few minutes less than the amount indicated on the pasta instructions. Then taste the pasta and if it has a little al dente bite to it then drain it and it’s done. 

When the pasta is done cooking, rinse it with cold water and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent sticking.

Rinsing pasta for salad.

TIP: If you are serving this to non-picky adults, you can get a little flavor boost in the pasta salad by pouring the vinaigrette over the warm pasta. It’ll absorb some of the dressing and lead to a really flavorful pasta. 

Ingredients for this pizza pasta salad

Pretty much anything that would work on a pizza can work great in this pasta salad.

Ingredients for pizza pasta salad.

Ingredients that are necessary for me though include:

  • Pepperoni. Easy to prepare and adds a nice salty bite.
  • Mozzarella. You could cube up some low moisture mozzarella cheese or, my preference is to buy some mini fresh mozzarella balls. 
  • Green peppers. Crunchy and fresh!
  • Cherry tomatoes. More fresh veggies!
  • Black olives. You could use any olive but I think they give a nice salty bite to the salad.
  • Fresh herbs like basil.
  • Toppings like red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

Making the quick Italian vinaigrette

My kids preferred this pizza pasta salad not only with the add-ins separated, but without a dressing on it. Just a drizzle of olive oil was all they really wanted. 

But, most adults I think would want something a little more complex and so I whisked up a quick Italian vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried Italian seasoning, and fresh lemon juice. 

Italian vinaigrette.

It’s packed with flavor and can hold up to the other pasta salad ingredients. 

What to serve with this pizza pasta salad

This is quite honestly intended to be a meal on its own. I would serve it as-is for a quick dinner after weekday activities or for a fast packed lunch option. It has protein, vegetables, carbs, and is pretty much a full meal!

That said, if I were looking to serve this alongside something, I think it would be great as a hearty side dish with any grilled items like maybe these Steakhouse Burgers or even a whole grilled fish

PIzza pasta salad separated in a bowl.

Storing leftovers for later

As with any pasta salad, the flavors will intensify with a few days in the fridge. This can be a good thing, but for stuff like the fresh basil and peppers, it can cause the vegetables to wilt. 

If you store the pasta salad without the dressing on it, it will keep longer, probably up to a week. 

With dressing, I think it would start to get a bit funky after 4-5 days. 

There’s no need to heat this pizza pasta salad up. It’s great cold! 

Pizza Pasta Salad

Substitutions and Ideas

This is an incredibly flexible pasta salad. Let’s dive into some substitutions.

  • Add other pizza toppings like chopped ham, artichoke hearts, sauteed mushrooms, or even pineapple! 
  • Stir in a cup of pizza sauce to make the pasta salad a red sauce base. 
  • Add diced onions, especially red onions would be nice. 
  • Change up the pasta and use bowtie, orzo, or even gnocchi. 
  • Top the pasta salad with traditional pizza slice toppings: red pepper flakes, garlic powder, fine-grated parmesan cheese.

Pizza Pasta Salad

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Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This delicious and easy pizza pasta salad is packed with classic Italian flavors, including pepperoni, peppers, and mozzarella. Perfect for lunch or dinner!


  • 1 pound tubular pasta, like cavatappi, or fussili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for pasta
  • 4-6 ounces pepperoni, chopped
  • 8 ounces mini mozzarella balls
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces fresh basil, Chopped

Easy Italian Vinaigrette:

  • cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning


  • Cook pasta according to package in salted water. Cook until pasta is just al dente. Don't overcook pasta. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients by chopping pepperoni, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil. 
  • Toss ingredients together in a large bowl and serve with Italian vinaigrette on the side. 
    Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 516kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 310mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 716IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 192mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American, Italian

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