Lemon basil pasta salad is a light and refreshing alternative to classic pasta salads. It’s full of fresh flavor and is made in minutes with a few simple ingredients.

This time of year, I start to make a lot of lemon recipes. They’re light, yet full of color and flavor. It’s a nice change of pace from heavier fall and winter dishes.

Through the years I have made a number of lemon basil recipes. This Lemon Basil Pasta Salad recipe blends a few favorites including lemon vinaigrette I use in an arugula salad and this basil lemon pasta.

pasta topped with parmesan and basil in white bowl
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Lemon basil recipes are perfect for spring and summer get togethers or for a light and refreshing lunch or dinner. This lemon pasta salad is no exception! It’s perfect for picnics and parties.

In fact, I’ve got an entire post dedicated to rounding up all the reader-fave easy pasta salad recipes around here. Don’t miss it– you’ll want to pin and save it for later! Unlike my incredibly creamy Macaroni Salad, this recipe is really light and refreshing.

One of my philosophies is that food should look as good as it takes. This Lemon Basil Pasta Salad is pretty enough to take to any party. It’s my new go to spring and summer pasta salad recipe.

You can make enough to serve a crowd in less than 20 minutes (including prep/cut and boil time)! It’s a great make and take dish because it tastes even better after it spends a little time marinating in the refrigerator for a couple hours. It is a one dish wonder that’s easy to cover and take.

This pasta salad recipe also feeds a crowd! It serves 10-12 side portions. If you happen to have leftovers (which rarely happens), enjoy for lunch! Just toss it with a tablespoon of lemon juice or olive oil.

Even kids will enjoy this irresistible recipe. My girls can’t keep their hands off of it! It’s light, fresh and flavorful!

Originally published April 2018 and updated with video March 2021.

lemon basil pasta salad in white bowl

With just 8 ingredients you can mix this up start to finish in less than 20 minutes. Because this recipe is so simple, I like to use fresh ingredients!

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Pasta – Use the noodle of your choice. I love campanelle, but bow tie pasta, cavatappi, fusilli (spiral), and penne all work well.
  • White Wine Vinegar – Gives this pasta salad a light tang.
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil is preferred, but you can substitute with canola oil.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed or 100% Lemon Juice purchased in the produce section of your grocer.
  • Pepper – Thick flakes of black pepper from a grinder on the largest setting adds flavor and texture.
  • Pine Nuts – Adds a little protein a crunch to this pasta salad. Walnuts or almonds are great alternatives.
  • Parmesan – Fresh parmesan in thick flakes provide flavor in every bite.
  • Basil – Fresh basil is the highlight of this dish.Basil is one of the few herbs I always have on hand because the plants are as inexpensive and purchasing fresh basil and easy to grow. Just one leaf adds so much flavor to dishes, making it my favorite garnish. However you can always find it fresh at your grocer in the produce section. It enhances just about every pasta dish!
ingredients to make summer pasta salad in white bowls

Add Protein

This lemon pasta salad certainly doesn’t need anything else, but if you’d like to add a little protein, there are a few delicious options!

How to Make Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

  1. Prepare Pasta – Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Prepare pasta al dente. Rinse in cold water to shock noodles. pasta in strainer in sink
  2. Make the Pasta Salad Dressing – Combine vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice in a jar. Shake until thoroughly combined. pouring dressing over pasta
  3. Toss – Add basil, pine nuts, parmesan and black pepper. Toss. pouring vinaigrette on pasta salad salad tongs in pasta salad

Tips

  • Prepare Noodles Al Dente – Don’t overcook your noodles. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy. It also makes your noodles easier to toss. Overcooking your noodles can result in a mushy pasta salad. 
  • Shock Pasta – Rinse boiled noodles with cold water to shock them.
  • Allow Pasta to Cool – Allow your pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients.
  • Marinate – Let your pasta salad marinate in the refrigerator for 2+ hours to allow the flavors to soak in. 

To Store

Refrigerate – Refrigerate covered up to 2 days.

If you love basil everything! Try Basil Pesto Hummus, Pesto Pasta, Basil Pesto and Pesto Aioli!

pasta salad topped with basil and parmesan

More Pasta Salad Recipes

basil lemon pasta salad in white bowl
5 from 123 votes
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Basil Lemon Pasta Salad

A refreshingly easy Basil Lemon Pasta Salad. This spring and summer pasta salad recipe is a lighter alternative to traditional pasta salads and easy to take to get togethers.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Refrigerate: 2 hours
Total: 17 minutes
Servings: 12
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Ingredients  

  • 1 pound pasta {shown with campanelle}
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 cracks pepper or to taste
  • cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shavings
  • ¼ cup fresh basil sliced thin

Instructions 

  • In a large pot of salty water, bring noodles to a boil and prepare al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to shock pasta.
  • Meanwhile, combine white wine vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice in a jar and shake well.
  • In a large bowl toss pasta with dressing and pine nuts. Add fresh cracked pepper, basil and parmesan flakes.
  • Refrigerate 2+ hours before serving.

Julie’s Tips

Substitutions

  • Pasta – Use the noodle of your choice. I love campanelle, but bow tie pasta, cavatappi, fusilli (spiral), and penne all work well.
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil is preferred, but you can substitute with canola oil.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed or 100% Lemon Juice purchased in the produce section of your grocer.
  • Pepper – Thick flakes of black pepper from a grinder on the largest setting adds flavor and texture.
  • Pine Nuts – Adds a little protein a crunch to this pasta salad. Walnuts or almonds are great alternatives.

Tips

  • Prepare Noodles Al Dente – Don’t overcook your noodles. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy. It also makes your noodles easier to toss. Overcooking your noodles can result in a mushy pasta salad. 
  • Shock Pasta – Rinse boiled noodles with cold water to shock them.
  • Allow Pasta to Cool – Allow your pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients.
  • Marinate – Let your pasta salad marinate refrigerated 2+ hours if possible.

To Store

Refrigerate – Refrigerate covered up to 2 days.

Video

Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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5 from 123 votes (98 ratings without comment)

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69 Comments

    1. What a joy to make. I love the aroma of fresh basil and lemons 👌
      I zested some lemon rind into the dressing mix and added salt and a bit of sugar to the finished salad. Delicious.

    1. 5 stars
      Amazing! I added more basil and pine nuts just because that’s what I like. Also, we marinated chicken breast in a lemon pepper marinade and then grilled it. We cut that into small pieces and mixed it in. We will make this again. My only recommendation would be to not add the cheese until you eat it. It kind of broke down into a weird texture.

  1. This post came in a timely fashion as I was just filling out my planner and nearly forgot I needed to bring a pasta salad  to a memorial tomorrow. This looks delicious and easy and I have most ingredients on hand including fresh basil in the garden! I love these kinds of recipes; and I love your simple approach to food. Thank you for the recipe! I can tell it will be great just by looking at it:)