There’s no better way to celebrate spring than a good old-fashioned barbecue. Whether you’re throwing one yourself or you’ve just been lucky enough to make the invite list, you’re going to need to think about the sides to go with the meat. You can’t go wrong with a tasty pasta salad, and we’ve compiled a few different options here from a few of our favorite Southern food bloggers.

With a variety of takes on the dish, you’re sure to find an option to fit any occasion and please any type of crowd!

Picnic Macaroni with Italian Dressing

By: Laura Lea of Laura Lea Balanced

Laura Lea, of Laura Lea Balanced, shared this option for a pasta salad that’s about as authentic as it gets. This recipe, from a forthcoming cookbook releasing next year, has all the comfort of a classic pasta salad (salami, mozzarella, Italian dressing) and is made with fresh ingredients.

Oh so colorful! For more recipes by Laura Lea, you can check out her first cookbook! Image: Laura Lea

Picnic Macaroni with Italian Dressing

Laura Lea Balanced
This picnic macaroni has the comfort of a classic pasta salad (salami, mozzarella, Italian dressing) and is made with fresh ingredients.
5 from 2 votes
Course Side Dish


Italian Dressing:

  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan sub nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Macaroni Salad

  • 16 ounces pasta of choice cooked, rinsed and cooled. Can toss with a thin layer of avocado oil to prevent sticking (I recommend Banza rotini)
  • ½ yellow bell pepper diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • cup sliced black olives
  • cup finely minced red onion
  • 6 ounces uncured nitrate-free salami I like Applegate Farms brand
  • 8 ounces fresh mini-mozzarella balls sliced in half
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil


Italian Dressing:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate while you prepare pasta salad.

Macaroni Pasta:

  • In a large mixing bowl, toss cooked noodles with all ingredients except basil. Add dressing to taste. I personally use the entire batch, but you can start with half and go from there.
  • Refrigerate at least 4 hours, ideally 8 or overnight, before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and extra grated parmesan (if using), before serving.
  • Salad will keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator up to four days.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Zucchini “Pasta” Salad

By: Cara Greenstein of Caramelized

For you non-traditionalists, Cara from Caramelized has an alternative pasta salad recipe to sneak some veggies into your side. By substituting zucchini noodles for regular ones, Cara’s recipe tastes light and fresh, making it perfect to enjoy in the warm weather months.

While the salad works great as a side dish, you can also make it a meal of its own by adding grilled chicken. Image: Caramelized

Zucchini "Pasta" Salad

Cara Greenstein
This zucchini pasta salad is fresh and healthy.
5 from 1 vote
Course Side Dish, Salad


  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 15- ounce can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil torn
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • Trim the ends of the zucchini, spiralize into spaghetti-like noodles, and place in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and massage lightly to evenly disperse. Let sit for 20 or so minutes (or as long as it takes to prepare the rest of the salad).
  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add barley and, stirring occasionally, cook until pleasantly chewy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar and remaining salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, barley and half of the dressing. If the barley is still very hot, let the mixture sit until just warm, stirring occasionally.
  • Squeeze the zucchini to rid any excess moisture and add to the bowl, along with the remaining dressing and basil. Stir and transfer to a serving bowl. Crumble the feta over the top, add a few basil leaves, and serve at room temperature (or refrigerate for a few hours beforehand).
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Taco Pasta Salad

By: Stacey of Southern Bite

Stacey of the Southern Bite is known for helping you make weeknight meals easy, and apparently, he’s also quite the innovator. Who would’ve thought to mix tacos and pasta? Don’t knock it ’til you try it because these two classics happen to pair quite nicely together in this taco pasta salad.

You’ve probably tried a taco salad, but have you ever thought to add pasta to it? All the goodness of your burrito bowl plus some noodles. Image: Southern Bite

Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad is a delicious pasta salad made with fresh Mexican flavors.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 6


  • 1 1-pound box rotini pasta
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1-ounce packet taco seasoning
  • 2 ripe avocados diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 small red onion finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 15.25-ounce whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes washed and sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • Cook the pasta according to the pasta instructions to just al dente. Cool completely by running cool water over the pasta, then drain.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and taco seasoning. Set aside.
  • Once the avocados are diced, toss them in the lime juice to prevent them from browning.
  • Combine the pasta, avocados, onion, cheese, corn, beans, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix to combine.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

By: Jackie Garvin of Syrup and Biscuits

If you’re wanting to evoke nostalgia from your crowd, cookbook author and creator of Syrup and Biscuits, Jackie Garvin, has an old-timey recipe to add to the list. This no-nonsense old-fashioned macaroni salad is exactly like what you would see at church potlucks. The slight tang from the rice vinegar gives the salad just a bit of sweetness.

Mayonnaise and macaroni noodles — that’s the secret to a good pasta salad! Image: Syrup and Biscuits

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Jackie Garvin
Have this old fashioned macaroni salad recipe on hand to make for barbecues and potlucks!
4.67 from 3 votes
Course Side Dish



  • 4 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoons cooking oil


  • 1 cup Duke's mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces jarred pimento
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 celery stalks finely diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion finely diced
  • 1 cup grated carrot about 2 medium


  • Cook elbow macaroni in boiling salted water according to package direction. Add one tablespoon cooking oil to the water before it boils. Don't overcook the macaroni. Seven minutes is about all you need.
  • While the macaroni cooks, prepare the sauce. Or you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready for use. However you decide to do it is your preference have the sauce ready to go because you need to mix the drained macaroni in the sauce while the macaroni is still hot. That's the most important part of this whole recipe. The sauce will look like a runny mess. That's exactly the way you want it. When the macaroni's hot, it will absorb most of the liquid. If you thrown cold macaroni into your sauce, you will be disappointed and might be tempted to use disparaging words against me. Please don't do that. The sauce that began as a runny mess will stay a runny mess unless you mix it with hot drained macaroni.
  • Throw all the sauce ingredients into the biggest bowl you've got. Stir it well.
  • As soon as the macaroni is done, drain it and add it to the sauce while it's still hot. (refer to diatribe above)
  • Stir well. Then, stir again. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
  • Cover and place in refrigerator for 4 hours or until well chilled.
  • Stir before serving.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Super Simple Summer Pasta Salad

By: Wesley Ware of StyleBlueprint

StyleBlueprint’s own Wesley Ware happens to be quite gifted at recipe creation, and her summer pasta salad is no exception. This vegan pasta salad is an ideal option for our dairy-free friends, but it is a crowd pleaser for non-vegans also.

Don’t let this pasta salad’s creamy look deceive you. This recipe is completely dairy-free! Image: Haley Bottorff

Super Simple Summer Pasta Salad

Wesley Ware
5 from 2 votes
Course Side Dish, plant-based
Servings 10 servings


  • 2 cups pasta of choice
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo we use Hampton Creek JUST mayo
  • 3/4 cup your choice of dairy-free Italian Dressing
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Bring pasta to a boil and cook according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked, drain and place into a large bowl.
  • Add chopped broccoli and set in refrigerator to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, add onions, olives and cabbage. Stir.
  • In a separate bowl, combine mayo and Italian dressing and mix with a spoon.
  • Pour dressing over pasta bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Place in refrigerator and let marinate overnight for best results.
  • Add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!


Enjoy your pasta and your party!


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