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Loaded Pasta Salad

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overhead shot of Loaded Pasta Salad in a bowl
This loaded pasta salad is packed with plenty of flavor and fresh ingredients that add the perfect pop of color that will be irresistible.
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Table of Contents
  1. Loaded Pasta Salad Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Loaded Pasta Salad Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This loaded pasta salad recipe is definitely not your average pasta salad. It’s loaded with all sorts of goodies like ham, cheese, and veggies, plus the homemade dressing is a delicious mix of creamy mayo, mustard, and vinegar that perfectly coats every piece of tender pasta.

overhead shot of Loaded Pasta Salad in a bowl

Loaded Pasta Salad Ingredients

Loaded Pasta Salad raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

For the Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup diced, fully cooked chunk ham
  • ½ cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
  • ½ cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • 1 seeded and diced red bell pepper

PRO TIP:

Make sure you don’t overcook the pasta, or it will fall apart in your salad if it is too soft.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

PASTA: You can substitute bowties or any other shaped pasta for the rotini.

HAM: You can substitute crumbled crispy bacon for the ham in this creamy pasta salad.

ONION: You can substitute finely diced red onion for the sweet yellow onion in this easy pasta salad recipe.

MIX-INS: This easy pasta salad has plenty of room for extras. Try cherry tomatoes, black olives, green onions, or green bell pepper for a few ideas.

How to Make This Loaded Pasta Salad Recipe

For the Dressing

STEP ONE: Using a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper whisked together in a bowl

For the Salad

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Rinsing the cooked pasta in cold water after draining is best when making a cold pasta salad recipe. It stops the pasta from cooking, and it keeps the pasta loose for the salad.

STEP ONE: Using a large bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, diced ham, diced onion, thawed peas, and red bell pepper. Stir to thoroughly combine.

pasta, ham, onion, peas, and red bell pepper stir together in a bowl

STEP TWO: Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and stir to incorporate the dressing and the salad. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

PRO TIP:

Don’t skip the chilling time. This will allow all of the flavors to mingle together for the best flavor.

dressing poured over the pasta and folded in a bowl

How To Serve

This cold pasta salad will be a huge hit for a summer potluck or family dinner all year round. Serve with our grilled chicken breast and grilled corn on the cob for a delicious meal fresh off the grill.

We have plenty of delicious recipes to make your taste buds come alive. Try our dill pickle pasta salad and egg pasta salad for two great choices.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Keep any leftovers of this pasta dish in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

IN THE FREEZER: We don’t recommend freezing this pasta salad recipe.

close up shot of tongs grabbing a piece of Loaded Pasta Salad in a bowl

Who doesn’t love a good pasta salad? This version is loaded with goodies, from ham to fresh veggies, plus a dressing packed with tangy flavor. It’s hearty and satisfying, perfect for a summer BBQ or picnic. Plus, it’s easy to make and can be tailored to your liking.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I store this salad?

This macaroni salad can be kept in the fridge for up to four days.

Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time?

This classic pasta salad is a great choice to make the day before. This gives plenty of time for the ingredients to mingle together to give it plenty of flavor. 

What type of pasta is best in pasta salad?

Any bite-size pasta works well in pasta salad. Penne, bowties, or rotini are all excellent choices.

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Loaded Pasta Salad

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This loaded pasta salad is packed with plenty of flavor and fresh ingredients that add the perfect pop of color that will be irresistible.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Salad

  • 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 cup small diced cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup fully cooked chunk ham, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
  • ½ cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • 1 seeded and diced red bell pepper

Instructions
 

Dressing

  • Using a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Salad

  • Using a large mixing bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, diced ham, diced onion, thawed peas, and diced red bell pepper. Stir to completely combine.
  • Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and stir to incorporate the dressing and the salad. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  • Make sure you don’t overcook the pasta, or it will fall apart in your salad if it is too soft.
  • Rinsing the cooked pasta in cold water after draining is best when making a cold pasta salad recipe. It stops the pasta from cooking, and it keeps the pasta loose for the salad.
  • Don’t skip the chilling time. This will allow all of the flavors to mingle together for the best flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 501kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 759mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 696IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 1mg
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