Make amazing Pasta Salad Dressing with pantry ingredients in just a couple minutes! It’s versatile, easily adaptable and perfect for all of your favorite pasta salad recipes! This light and flavorful Pasta Salad Dressing recipe is made with oil, citrus, herbs and spices.

Skip the bottle of store bought dressing and create your own – it’s unbelievably easy and so delicious! One taste and you’ll know why readers rate it 5 stars!

A glass bottle with a gold spout, full of pasta salad dressing.
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My pasta salad dressing is easy and refreshing. It’s less expensive, too! Skip the preservatives and shake up this delicious dressing. It keeps well up to 2 weeks!

A little known secret from pros I learned when catering, is that the best recipes are just a simple formula. Customize this versatile dressing with a blend of oil/fat, acidity (vinegar or citrus) herbs and spices to suit all of your pasta salads!

Add to a sealable jar, shake and toss. It’s that easy!

Substitutions and Variations

  • Oil – Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my go-to, but you can substitute Canola oil, avocado oil, or your favorite oil.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh squeezed or store-bought 100% lemon juice or substitute with favorite vinegar. Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic or rice wine vinegar all work well. Substitute with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to make a creamy salad dressing.
  • Mustard Seed – Just like any other spice, this comes in a shelf stable jar. Adding grain mustard seed creates more texture and acidity.
  • Minced Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves (learn how to mince garlic here) or store-bought minced garlic.
  • Dried Herbs – Basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, mint, and or your favorite. Substitute with your favorite seasoning. Ranch Seasoning or Lemon Pepper are amazing on a variety of pasta salads. Spice it up with Chipotle Seasoning, red pepper flakes, Cajun Seasoning, or Fiesta Ranch.
  • Salt and Pepper – Thick flakes of salt and black pepper (just adjust your pepper grinder) to add color, texture and flavor. 
bow tie pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette basil and cherry tomatoes


Make it a Creamy Pasta Salad Dressing with our easy formula!

A hand holding a glass jar with a spout lid, full of pasta salad dressing

Tools to Use

A glass bottle with a gold lid, full of pasta salad dressing.

Pro Tip

Pasta salad soaks up dressing as it marinates in the refrigerator. Reserve a little dressing to refresh pasta salad. Add and toss just before serving.

A hand holding a glass jar with a spout lid, full of pasta salad dressing

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep pasta salad from absorbing dressing?

One of the best ways to serve pasta salad is to dress it two times! Add half your dressing to marinate the salad in the fridge for several hours (or overnight), and then add the remainder just before serving.

Should you rinse pasta when making pasta salad?

While the general rule is to never rinse your pasta after cooking, pasta salad is the only time it’s a suggested rule of thumb! Rinsing can help keep the pasta from continuing to soften and cook. It “shocks” the pasta and helps it easily accept the dressing!

bow tie pasta salad in a bowl with cherry tomatoes basil and feta

Serving Suggestions

This pasta salad dressing is perfect with a variety of pasta salads!

pasta salad recipe collection

It’s also amazing on salads, wraps or as a marinade (especially delicious on chicken!)

pasta salad dressing in a jar
A hand holding a glass jar with a spout lid, full of pasta salad dressing
5 from 22 votes

Pasta Salad Dressing

Combine and shake to mix up the best Pasta Salad Dressing in minutes! Skip the bottle and add fresh, vibrant flavor with this delightfully easy, delicious and versatile pasta salad dressing recipe.
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 3 minutes
Servings: 6
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  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs
  • teaspoon salt thick flakes preferred
  • teaspoon pepper thick flakes preferred


  • Add olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to a sealable jar, seal and shake or mixing bowl and whisk vigorously.
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon dried herbs
    woman in stripe dress combing ingredients in jar
  • Reserving a small amount, toss with pasta salad. Cover and refrigerate pasta salad 2+ hours to marinate. When ready to serve, add remaining pasta salad dressing and toss to refresh.
    pouring pasta salad dressing onto pasta salad

Julie’s Tips

Reserve a little dressing to refresh pasta salad after it marinates, when ready to serve.
If you’re in a pinch, toss and serve, but pasta salad is best when the dressing marinates with the pasta and toppings. When possible, cover and refrigerate 2+ hours to allow the dressing to meld and seep into the pasta.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Lemon Juice – Substitute with your favorite vinegar. Balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar are all favorites. White wine, lime juice and pesto are also great alternatives.
  • Oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or even melted butter are great fats for this dressing that coat well.
  • Make it Creamy – Substitute oil with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to the recipe. Tip: drain and pat prepared pasta so the dressing properly coats and incorporates into the pasta salad.
  • Herbs – Substitute dried herbs with your favorite seasoning or substitute with 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs.

To Store

Store prepared dressing in an airtight container refrigerated up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and shake to refresh.


Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 57mg | Potassium: 23mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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