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Creamy Pasta Salad

This tasty Creamy Pasta Salad is both simple and flavorful. Combining creamy pasta with crunchy diced vegetables creates a delightful blend of textures and tastes for this traditional side dish.

For some exciting variations on pasta salad, be sure to try out our Italian pasta salad (VIDEO) and pesto pasta salad (VIDEO).

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Recipe Details

This Creamy Pasta Salad is a personal favorite due to its wonderful taste and ease of preparation. It’s a perfect addition to any backyard barbecue or potluck gathering.

  • TASTE: This pasta dish features a medley of flavorful veggies combined with a tangy dressing made from sour cream and Dijon mustard.
  • TEXTURE: This Classic Creamy Pasta Salad offers simple yet delicious textures. The pasta is tender, the dressing is creamy, and the diced vegetables provide a satisfying crunch.
  • TIME: You can whip up this dish in under 20 minutes.
  • EASE: This pasta salad is a quick and easy side dish that can be prepared and served promptly or stored overnight for meal prep purposes.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for Creamy Pasta Salad: mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, celery, red onion, red pepper, elbow macaroni, salt, and black pepper.

Ingredient Notes

  • Elbow macaroni- Elbow macaroni is my preferred choice for this Creamy Pasta Salad, but other small pasta varieties can be used as well. Simply follow the cooking instructions on the package.
  • Mayonnaise- Adds a creamy richness to the dressing.
  • Sour Cream- Provides a rich and tangy element to the dish.
  • Dijon mustard- Offers a tangy and flavorful kick to the recipe.
  • Vegetables- Red bell pepper, red onion, and celery are used to introduce flavor and a crunchy texture.
  • Seasonings- A touch of salt and black pepper.

Add-ins and Substitutions

  • Add meat- Enhance this Creamy Pasta Salad with diced chicken, turkey, ham, pepperoni, or salami.
  • Use more veggies- Experiment with additional vegetables like olives, tomatoes, dill pickles, or cucumbers for added flavor.
  • Add cheese- Introduce feta cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, or Parmesan cheese for a cheesy twist.
  • Add spices- Try incorporating different seasonings like cumin, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, or Italian seasonings for a flavor boost.

How to Make Creamy Pasta Salad

  • Prepare the dressing. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Step-by-step process to make Creamy Pasta Salad: combine mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper using a whisk.
  • Dice the vegetables. Finely chop the pepper, onion, and celery either manually or using a vegetable chopper.
  • Cook the pasta. Cook the elbow macaroni following the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to prevent overcooking.
  • Combine. In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, vegetables, and dressing thoroughly. Adjust seasoning with more salt if needed. Serve chilled.

Pro Tip: Using a vegetable chopper speeds up the vegetable dicing process, producing uniformly sized pieces.

Step-by-step process to make Creamy Pasta Salad: combine the dressing with diced red pepper, onion, celery, and elbow macaroni.

Recipe Tips

  • Dice the vegetables small- For a delightful texture in this Creamy Pasta Salad, ensure the vegetables are finely diced for small, crunchy bites. A vegetable chopper can assist with this task.
  • Cook the pasta al dente- Cook the pasta until al dente to maintain its structure when mixed with the dressing and veggies.
  • Rinse the pasta in cold water- Rinsing the pasta in cold water halts the cooking process and prevents the dressing from melting upon mixing.
  • Serve chilled- This pasta salad is best enjoyed cold, so refrigerate it until ready to serve.
Two bowls of Creamy Pasta Salad with elbow macaroni and diced vegetables with forks and chopped parsley sprinkled nearby.


Should you run cold water over pasta for pasta salad?

Yes, it’s recommended to rinse your cooked pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process and maintain the desired texture.

How do you keep creamy pasta moist?

To prevent creamy pasta salad from drying out, you can coat the pasta with a bit of oil before adding the dressing or adjust the dressing amount to compensate for any absorption.

Close up of Classic Creamy Pasta Salad with diced vegetables and elbow macaroni.

Serving Suggestions

This Creamy Pasta Salad is tasty and versatile, offering numerous pairing options with various dishes.

  • Meats: Ideal with Smoked Chicken Thighs, Flank Steak Tacos, Barbecue Pork Ribs, or Air Fryer Pork Chops (VIDEO).
  • Salads: Pair with Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad (VIDEO), Chicken Salad With Grapes, or Taco Salad (VIDEO).
  • Sides: Goes well with Air Fryer Green Beans, Sauteed Garlic Asparagus, Mac and Cheese, or Crispy Air Fryer Broccoli.
  • Sandwiches: Serve alongside a Brisket Sandwich, Turkey Panini, Caprese Sandwich, or Turkey Croissant Sandwich.

Make This Recipe in Advance

Make ahead: Prepare this pasta salad in advance by storing it wrapped in the refrigerator overnight.

Storing: Keep this creamy pasta salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Ensure the noodles are covered with plastic wrap to maintain freshness.

Freezing: It’s recommended not to freeze this pasta salad to prevent the dressing from separating upon thawing.

More Tasty Salads!

  • Pesto Pasta Salad (VIDEO)
  • Cucumber Radish Salad
  • Antipasto Salad
  • Chicken Pasta Salad

Full Recipe Instructions


Creamy Pasta Salad

This Classic Creamy Pasta Salad is such a flavorful side dish. Creamy dressing and crispy diced vegetables mixed with elbow pasta make it oh so delicious.

5 from
2 votes


Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cook Time:

7 minutes




Creamy dressing

  • 1

  • 3/4
    Sour cream

  • 1
    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2

  • 1/4
    pepper to taste

Pasta and vegetables

  • – 1 lb elbow macaroni
    – 1/2 cup red onion (about a quarter of a large onion)
    – 2 sticks celery
    – 1 red bell pepper

    ### Instructions:
    1. Start by making the creamy salad dressing. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
    2. Dice the red onion, celery, and bell pepper. You can use a vegetable chopper to speed up the process.
    3. Cook the pasta according to the package or until al dente. Rinse the pasta with cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process.
    4. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chopped vegetables, and creamy dressing. Add salt according to your preference. Serve chilled.

    ### Notes:
    – Dice the vegetables small to have little bites of crunch in the salad.
    – Cook the pasta al dente to maintain its structure when mixed with dressing.
    – Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down.
    – Serve the salad chilled for the best taste.

    ### Nutrition:
    – Calories: 361 kcal
    – Carbohydrates: 36 g
    – Protein: 7 g
    – Fat: 21 g
    – Saturated Fat: 5 gCholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 282mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 495IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

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