Wasting pesto is a sin.

This recipe for creamy pesto pasta salad makes the most of any leftover pesto. Make it once and you’ll quickly memorize how to use store bought pesto for a pasta salad. In addition to store bought pesto, this easy cold pasta salad features smoked mozzarella, mayo, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Check out this step-by-step creamy pesto pasta salad recipe video.

Can you put pesto on cold pasta?

I treat pesto like gold. So when I had a few tablespoons of thick, decadent store bought pesto left from another recipe, I wondered: can you put pesto on cold pasta? After some experimentation, I found that using store bought pesto on pasta salad is too thick on it’s own. So I added mayo to the pesto and this recipe for creamy pasta salad dressing with pesto was born.

How do you make creamy pesto salad dressing?

This is an easy pasta salad with mayo. To make a simple creamy pesto salad dressing, simply combine two ingredients: pesto and mayo, until smooth.

How do you make creamy pesto salad dressing?

This is an easy pasta salad with mayo. To make a simple creamy pesto salad dressing, simply combine two ingredients, pesto and mayo, until smooth.

How do you cook pasta for cold pasta salad?

Boil pasta as directed on the package to al dente. Immediately after straining, coat the pasta generously with olive oil so the pieces don’t stick together. Work quickly to add the creamy pesto pasta dressing.

What vegetables go with pesto pasta salad?

  • Broccoli
  • Squash
  • Red onion
  • Zucchini
  • Bell peppers

Cold pesto pasta salad with chicken

If you’re looking to add protein to this pesto pasta salad, chicken is a great option. Check out this recipe to learn how to slow cook a whole chicken in the crock pot. Add the fall-off-the-bone chicken to the pesto pasta salad for a hearty chilled salad.

This is a favorite easy pesto pasta salad for a crowd. I make it for football games, Super Bowl, and to take to parties. It keeps for a few days in the fridge, so I usually make a big batch of creamy pesto pasta salad to have for lunch over a few days.

Working from home, I love having a cold salad in the fridge for a quick lunch. Another favorite in my house is this make-ahead Mexican salad with ranch dressing.

Your always-in-the-mood-for-a-cold-pasta-salad foodie friend, Jenna.

creamy pesto pasta salad with mozzarella and with store bought pesto

Creamy pesto pasta salad with store bought pesto

This creamy pesto pasta salad recipe uses store bought pesto to make a delicious make ahead salad. In addition to the veggies listed, you can add broccoli, squash, red onion, zucchini, or bell peppers. Adding chicken makes this a hearty salad.
Course Appetizer, lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword cold salad, Make ahead, Mayo, Pasta, Pesto, Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 424 kcal


  • 1 LB Rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 cup smoked mozzarella diced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan shredded


  1. Boil pasta as directed to al dente. Strain and coat with olive oil so pasta doesn’t stick together.

  2. Combine mayo and pesto. Mix with pasta.

  3. Add sun-dried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella. Stir to combine.

  4. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

How’d your salad turn out? I’d love to see it! Find me on Instagram @sipbitego and tag #sipbitego when you post a snap shot.

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