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This is Pasta Pesto Salad, but not as we know it. This is something a bit ✨extra✨! Filled with heaps of flavour and texture in every bite, it’s perfect for lunches, picnics or a buffet side dish and is so simple to throw together in 15 minutes.

A big bowl full of Pesto Pasta Salad, with a spoon about to serve.

It’s been my mission to come up with some really delicious pasta salad recipes that offer a bit of something different – so not just average run-of-the-mill mayonnaise drenched, slightly sad salad. 

Obviously I love a classic Tuna Pasta Salad, but seeing as this kind of dish is ultra versatile and always goes down well with both kids and adults alike, I thought it would be nice to create some new flavours and styles to our pasta salad repertoire. 

There’s nothing more life-saving when everyone is hungry RIGHT NOW but you don’t have the time, ingredients or motivation for a full elaborate hot meal. Pasta salads are here to save you!

This Pasta Pesto Salad is honestly so quick and easy, has only a handful of ingredients and works really well together.

Why you’ll love this pasta salad recipe

⭐️ Eat it hot or cold, great for leftovers or making ahead

⭐️ Super quick and simple

⭐️ Satisfying, healthy and delicious

Pasta mixed with bacon bits, pesto, onion, mozzarella and pesto.

About this Pesto Pasta Salad

There are a few key factors I wanted to balance out with this recipe, keeping pesto as the main flavour here but giving something EXTRA by also making it crunchy, creamy, zesty and fresh

In the first version of this pasta salad, we made our own pesto – which of course you can do if you’d rather – but, I have to say, I’m not quite sure it’s worth the effort here so we’ve opted for store bought.

Making sure we elevate it a little (with just a few ingredients and a couple of extra minutes in time) means this feels like a fully packed and satisfying meal, so that it’s not just OK for lunch but a proper midweek family dinner too. 

Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients

Ingredients for a pesto pasta salad recipe laid on a white counter top.
  • Pasta – Go for whichever type you choose. Perhaps go for something a little different to mix things up?
  • Sweetcorn – You can use tinned, drained. You can use fresh if you like – cook it then cut the corn off the cobs (that’s what I did in these photos, mainly as it just looks really pretty!)
  • Baby mozzarella – These are the little packets of balls. Drain the liquid off well before using.
  • Red onion
  • Crispy bacon – I buy ready-cooked crispy bacon, which is available at most supermarkets for convenience, but you could also cook your own if you’d prefer
  • Pesto – Fresh, homemade or jar is fine. I use a normal jar of green pesto for this
  • Lemon – We’re only using the juice
  • Yoghurt – Plain Greek yoghurt is fine, or natural is OK too
  • Pine nuts – Optional extra (they do add heaps of texture – toast them if you have time before adding)

How to make Pesto Pasta Salad

Step 1 in the process of making pesto pasta salad. Cook pasta and chop ingredients.
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water as per the packet instructions. Meanwhile, chop all of the other ingredients.
Sarah Rossi of Taming Twins mixing a recipe for pesto pasta salad.

2. When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and rinse in cold water (if serving cold). Make sure it’s as dry as possible. Add everything else in and mix well.


  • Pine nuts – I have added these as an optional extra if you have them. If you toast them a little before adding into the dish, it adds a lovely nutty crunch and extra layer of flavour. I recommend!
  • Veggies – Of course, add in a few extras if you think it will work or you need to use ingredients up. The extra crunch and sweetness of peppers would be nice, for example, or other salad bits.
  • Meat – The crispy bacon gives this a lovely crunchy, saltiness that works with the creaminess of the cheese and yoghurt, but other meats will work too. Simple cooked ham or cooked chicken would be great. You could also omit to make vegetarian of course.


In the fridge This is perfect for cold leftovers. It travels well so is also fantastic for picnics or packed lunches too.

If you are planning to store this, you can keep the dressing separate and then mix it just before serving. It will stay fresher/crispier this way. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

In the freezer I wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe as it’ll end up soggy when you defrost.

Top tips for making Pesto Pasta Salad

What to serve with Pasta Salad 

This is a full meal on its own, but if you want to you could double carb with dough balls or garlic bread to make your dish go further. Alternatively you could serve with an extra protein on the side.

Other great quick pasta recipes 

My Tortellini ‘Lasagne’ is also ready in about 10 minutes, as is my Prawn Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce, my Smoked Salmon Pasta and my Cream Cheese Pasta.

Other pasta salad options are my Orzo Pasta Salad and my Chicken Pasta Salad. So GOOD!


Is Pesto Pasta Salad healthy?

This is a really healthy, filling and nutritious meal that’s relatively low in calories.

Is it OK to have this dish warm?

Yes! Just omit the step where you run the pasta under cold water and mix the pasta straight in with the other ingredients after you’ve drained it. It’s delicious either way.

Can I make this a vegetarian pasta salad?

Yes – simply omit the bacon and it’ll be delicious.

Can this be a gluten free pasta salad?

Yes – just use gluten free pasta and check all other ingredients (for example precooked bacon) to be sure they are gluten free.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

5 from 12 votes

Pesto Pasta Salad {15 Minute Meal}

This super simple but oh-so-tasty Pesto Pasta Salad is ideal for a midweek family dinner, a hearty lunch or a picnic. It’s ready in 15 minutes and is packed with crunch, creaminess, crispy bacon saltiness and delicious pesto flavour.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 300 g Pasta
  • 340 g Sweetcorn, 1x tin, drained
  • 260 g Baby mozzarella, 150g drained
  • 1 Red onion, Finely chopped
  • 55 g Crispy bacon, Finely chopped or crumbled
  • 75 g Pesto
  • 1 Lemon, Juice only
  • 125 g Yoghurt


  • 30 g Pine nuts


  • Cook the pasta in salted water as per the pack instructions (approx 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • When the pasta has cooked, drain well. Rinse in cold water while it’s in the colander to cool it quickly. Be sure the pasta is as dry as possible.
  • Add all of the other ingredients and mix well.


Corn: Drain tinned sweetcorn well before adding. If you’re using fresh, cook it and slice off the corn from the cob.
Bacon: I use ready-cooked crispy bacon but you can also cook from fresh.
Yoghurt: Plain Greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt is fine.
Pine nuts: Toast them before adding for a nutty crunch and extra layer of flavour.
Pesto: I use jarred pesto but you can use fresh or homemade.
Nutrition: This is calculated for 4 servings which is a large main course portion. It does not include optional pine nuts.


Calories: 708kcalCarbohydrates: 86gProtein: 32gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 713mgPotassium: 536mgFiber: 7gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 2536IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 1576mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Family Food
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Sarah Rossi founder of and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.


Hi, I'm Sarah. I help busy people decide 'What's for Dinner?' Find hundreds of recipes here, and also in my bestselling recipe book. Hope my recipes make your life easier ❤️

5 from 12 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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