Home » The Best Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad

The Best Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad

Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad is a unique twist on the classic caprese salad. It is fresh, delicious, and super easy! The recipe calls for a few simple ingredients making it easy to make on repeat all summer long. It is our favorite summer pasta salad.

noodles, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella pasta salad in a white bowl on a wood cutting board

In the summer when the basil is overflowing your pots and the cherry tomatoes are at their sweetest this pesto caprese pasta salad will also become one of your favorite recipes. I’m sure of it!! Kens favorite summer dish is a caprese salad, this recipe takes all those fresh ingredients and wraps them into one perfect side dish that keeps well and is easy to transport to your next bbq!

ingredients for pesto caprese pasta salad layed out on a wood cutting board on a grey counter top
  • 1 pound pasta, cavatappi, fusilli, or orecchiette
  • pearl fresh mozzarella balls
  • cherry tomatoes
  • red onion
  • fresh basil leaves
  • basil pesto
  • mayonnaise
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Add salt to a large pot of water, bring to a boil, cook pasta al dente, drain, and rinse under cold water to stop the pasta from continuing to cook. It’s very important when making a pasta salad that you do not over cook the pasta, you want it to have a bit of a bite to it, this allows the pasta to take on the flavors of the dressing without becoming mushy.
  2. Prep ingredients while the pasta is cooking and cooling.
cherry tomatoes on a cutting board with a knife, cherry tomatoes cut in half, bowl of basil

3. Cut tomatoes in half, unless they are very small then you can leave them whole. Finely dice red onion, you will need 1/2 cup.

Chiffonaded basil on a wood cutting board with the knife in the background

4. Chiffonade basil, cut into thin strips. If you take the basil leaves and stack them together, then roll them up and cut across the leaves you will get tiny strips of chiffonaded basil.

pesto, balsamic vinegar, mayonnaise in glass bowls on a wood cutting board with some cherry tomatoes scattered on the board

4. Measure out 2/3 cup pesto, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and whisk them together to make the dressing.

glass bowl full of noodles, tomatoes, basil, onion, mozzarella pearls, on top of wood cutting board with dressing, basil and tomatoes above the bowl

5. Place diced onion, mozzarella pearls, sliced tomato, and chopped basil in a large salad bowl and toss together.

glass bowl full of pasta salad ingredients with dressing being poured over it

6. Pour dressing over the pasta salad ingredients and stir to combine. Add fresh black pepper and salt to your taste.

mixing bowl of pesto caprese pasta salad with a large white spatula

After you have the dressing incorporated completely with the ingredients. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of one hour before serving.

  • This recipe comes together very quickly in 20-30 minutes you can make this amazing fresh pasta salad.
  • This side dish is perfect for making ahead of time. It actually tastes better the next day. Place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Truth be told it rarely makes it to the refrigerator around here. If I want to keep it around I suggest making a double recipe!
  • Pesto: This recipe is not an exact science. You can use any and all pestos! If you have a favorite homemade basil pesto, perfect. Use it! I often will use store-bought pesto (my favorite is the Kirkland brand). I often make fresh pesto in the summer and then I will use my own recipe.
  • Pasta: I used cavatappi pasta, however there are several other pasta shapes that work well. Orecchietta, Fusilli, Shell pasta all work great. You want a pasta with some ridges that allow the dressing to grab on to the other ingredients. For example a macaroni noodle would not work well because all the ingredients will sink to the bottom and not hang on to each other. You want to create some love in your bowl!!
  • Great Additions: The Recipe Card is the basic recipe, however pesto caprese pasta salad is the perfect salad to make your own by adding all sorts of extra add-ins. Here are a few of my favorites: toasted pine nuts, variety of fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill, and mint), parmesan cheese (grated or shaved), diced celery, mini pepperonis, crumbled bacon (I add this just before serving because the bacon may become soggy), red pepper flakes to the dressing for added spice, add salt and fresh ground black pepper to your taste.

If you have any questions that have not been answered in the questions below or the variations topics above, please feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will answer them as best I can!

  • Is there a way I can make this vegan? Yes of course you can use a vegan pesto and leave out the mozzarella or if you can find a vegan plant based mozzarella you can substitute it for the pearl mozzarella.
  • I have a gluten allergy. As I’m sure you know there a great many great gluten-free pastas on the market, substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta, and use a pesto that is certified gluten free. This salad is very adaptable!
white bowl full of pesto caprese pasta salad on a round wood cutting board with tan background

I’m telling you this caprese pasta salad recipe needs to make an appearance at all the things; summer barbecues, summer potlucks, Sunday afternoon dinner! It is the perfect summer salad and is guaranteed to be a huge hit! This pasta salad is by far the most requested recipe that I am asked to bring to any backyard bbq. Throw some chicken or hamburgers on the grill add this salad and some sliced melon and you have the perfect light meal in a flash!

Enjoy!! XOX Sheila

P.S. Be sure to PIN this recipe from the recipe card or share above from the quick share links for Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. If you make it take a photo and share on Instagram be sure to tag me! I would appreciate it!

noodles, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella pasta salad in a white bowl on a wood cutting board

Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad

All the flavors of a classic caprese salad wrap up in a fresh and delicious pasta salad that pairs with just about any menu.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Course lunch, potluck, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine salad
Servings 8 servings
Calories 381 kcal


  • large pot for boiling noodles
  • large bowl for mixing and storage


  • 1 pound pasta cavatappi, fusilli, orecchietta, shell all work best
  • 8 ounces small pearl mozzarella
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves washed, dried, and chopped into thin slices (chiffonade)
  • 2/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup mayonnase
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot on stove top, salt water, cook pasta until it is al dente.
  • Drain pasta in a colander in the sink, rinse with cold water to cool pasta down. Drain well.
  • Prep vegetables. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and finely dice the red onion. Wash, dry, and chiffonade basil.
  • Combine the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pesto, mayonnaise, and balsamic. Whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl add cooked (and cooled) pasta, tomatoes, onion, basil, mozzarella balls, and dressing, mix to combine. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt to your taste.


Calories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 9gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 270mgPotassium: 221mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 678IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 1mg
Keyword mozzarella, pasta, pesto, salad, tomato
Tried this recipe?Mention @eat2gather or tag #eat2gather!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating