This creamy pasta salad dressing has a rich, smooth consistency that envelops the ingredients of your pasta salad. With just 3 ingredients and a little salt and pepper, it’s the most delicious way to upgrade your favorite picnic side dish!

It’s similar to our classic vinaigrette pasta salad dressing, but made with a base of mayonnaise for a velvety texture.

With a blend of tangy, sweet, and savory notes, this creamy dressing clings well to the pasta, ensuring that each bite is flavorful. The creamy texture contrasts perfectly with crisp veggies and al dente pasta!

Clear glass pitcher filled with creamy pasta salad dressing on a white background.
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While we often prefer oil-based vinaigrette dressing recipes for a lighter, cleaner profile, this creamy salad dressing is making us think twice! Why not switch up your favorite pasta salad recipes and try something new?

This rich and creamy pasta salad dressing will take any pasta salad combination to a whole new level. It’s simple to make (with minimal ingredients) and easy to customize to your tastes.

Pasta salad is great to make ahead because the flavors become even more potent as the ingredients marinate in the dressing overnight. Creamy dressings help keep the pasta moist and prevent it from drying out, especially when the salad is stored in the refrigerator.

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Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Texture: Creamy dressing makes a pasta salad feel more satisfying and indulgent.
  • Balance: The creaminess can balance out the acidity or sharpness of other ingredients like vinegar, mustard, or pickles, creating a harmonious flavor profile.
  • Versatility: Creamy dressings can be flavored in many ways (with herbs, spices, cheese, etc.) and pair well with a variety of pasta salad ingredients from vegetables to meats and cheeses.
Clear glass pitcher filled with creamy pasta salad dressing on a white background.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Mayonnaise – Do not substitute. Learn how to make mayonnaise here if you want to try it homemade!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Or white wine vinegar
  • Dijon Mustard – You can sub with traditional mustard or brown mustard.
  • Salt and Pepper – We love fresh cracks of sea salt and black pepper.
Three small bowls containing vinegar, whole grain mustard, and mayonnaise for a creamy pasta salad dressing recipe, on a marble surface.
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Test Kitchen Tips

Choose the Right Pasta – Use pasta shapes that hold onto the dressing well, like rotini, fusilli, farfalle, or shells. These shapes have nooks and crannies that trap the creamy dressing, ensuring every bite is flavorful.

Balance Creaminess with Crunch – Include a variety of textures by adding crisp vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, or celery. This contrast makes the salad more interesting and enjoyable to eat.

Marinate – For the best pasta salad, make ahead and refrigerate overnight (with dressing). This helps the dressing better adhere to the noodles, melding all the textures together.

A close up of a macaroni pasta salad.

Serving Suggestions

A glass pitcher filled with creamy milk on a white background, with focus on the spout.
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Creamy Pasta Salad Dressing

With a blend of tangy, sweet, and savory notes, this creamy dressing clings well to the pasta, ensuring that each bite is flavorful. The creamy texture contrasts perfectly with crisp veggies and al dente pasta!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 10
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Ingredients  

  • 1 cup mayonnaise do not substitute
  • cup apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard (sub with traditional mustard or brown mustard)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. 
    1 cup mayonnaise, ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper
    A white bowl containing a creamy pasta salad dressing recipe.

Julie’s Tips

  • Choose the Right Pasta – Use pasta shapes that hold onto the dressing well, like rotini, fusilli, farfalle, or shells. These shapes have nooks and crannies that trap the creamy dressing, ensuring every bite is flavorful.
  • Balance Creaminess with Crunch – Include a variety of textures by adding crisp vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, or celery. This contrast makes the salad more interesting and enjoyable to eat.
  • Marinate – For the best pasta salad, make ahead and refrigerate overnight (with dressing). This makes it so flavorful, as the dressing better adheres to the noodles, melding all the textures together.

Storage Tips

Since this is a mayonnaise based dressing, it can only be at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.
Refrigerate covered for 3-5 days. Reserve a little extra dressing to toss with your pasta salad to refresh before serving leftovers.
Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 13mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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