The Best Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

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.

Ingredients for caprese pasta salad labeled.
  • 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. 
Balsamic Dressing in small bowl for pasta salad.
  • 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. 
Balsamic Dressing Tossed with Pasta.
  • 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. 
Dressed pasta spread out on a sheet pan.
  • 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.
Basil ribbons cut on cutting board.
  • 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. 
Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and pasta tossed together.
  • 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.  
Bowl of Caprese Pasta Salad next to fresh basil.

Recipe Modifications

  • ​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.

Close up of bowl of pasta salad with tomatoes and basil.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad features fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, vibrant basil, and a delicious homemade balsamic dressing.

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, Italian

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 12

Calories: 256kcal

Ingredients

For the Caprese Pasta Salad

Prevents your screen from going dark while preparing the recipe.

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is best. Use mozzarella pearls (small balls) or dice up the mozzarella into bite-size pieces. If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, cubed or shredded mozzarella will work. 
Basil: To chiffonade the basil, stack up the leaves of basil and then roll them up and slice them into ribbons.
Tomatoes: If using Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, be sure to remove the seeds and chop them into bite-sized pieces before adding them to the pasta salad. 
Storage: Store any leftover Caprese Pasta Salad in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. 
Dried Out Pasta Salad: After refrigerating your pasta salad, if you feel it has become dried-out, add ½ tablespoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss again. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 229mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 471IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1mg

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This post was originally published in 2018 but was updated in 2022 with new tips and photos.