For those warm, sunny-days we all love, this Asian-inspired easy cold pasta salad recipe is your perfect companion using only 7 key ingredients! Brightly colored with nutritious vegetables, this cold pasta will totally pair with any main dish. Easy, simple, and done in under 20-minutes!
Our Asian-inspired easy cold pasta salad recipe is zesty, nutritious, and is really all too simple!
With all the flavor you get from the dressing, combined with the fresh vegetables and beautiful colored pasta, you’re just asking for a refreshing springtime (or summer!) dish.
Using only 7 key ingredients, you already have the basics down to this simple pasta salad recipe, but we’ll also provide you with even more topping ideas if you want to be just a little bit more fancy…totally optional if you want a splurge!
This post will go over everything you need to know to create this easy cold pasta salad recipe.
Recipe difficulty: Beginner level toss and serve
For this easy Asian pasta salad, fresh ingredients will be used in a tart, lemon vinegar sauce that coats each bite of pasta perfectly! Easily customizable to preference, this easy pasta salad is a great way to get your vegetables in for a refreshing meal!
Sam’s Pro Tips for this Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe
Flavor Tastes Better the Next Day
If you’re planning on serving this Asian pasta salad for a gathering, plan to make the night before as the flavor really develops the next day!
At a minimum, store the pasta in the refrigerator for 2 hours to have the flavors infuse the pasta. You’ll find that the rice vinegar will taste more tart, and you’ll get more of the lemon flavor after it sits. Yum!
We discussed this tip in our Filipino Sweet Macaroni Salad to Try Right Now for the best flavor when it comes to cold pasta recipes!
Tailor the Rice Vinegar to Preference
If you haven’t had rice vinegar, it can be pretty tart due to the acidic nature! However, just the right amount can really elevate any dish to something drool-worthy!
For this easy cold pasta salad recipe, I ONLY use 1/3 cup just to get enough of that zing in a bite. This is not a pasta recipe that uses way too much dressing! You know the salads where the dressing just sits at the bottom of the bowl… The dressing measurements given LIGHTLY coat the pasta for an even balance.
If you would like more of that tart taste, you can add a spoonful of rice vinegar at a time to toss the pasta salad in. Just remember, the dressing flavor will continue to develop as the pasta sits! Please, please, please don’t overdo it!
Cook your Pasta with Salt and Oil
Similar to our Best Shrimp Scampi Recipe with Pasta, we like to cook our noodles with some olive oil and salt.
I know this is a hit or miss topic as there are varying opinions. However, I find that the salt helps flavor the pasta and the olive oil prevents my noodles from sticking. This is super helpful if I forget to occasionally stir the pasta as it cooks.
Key Ingredients – Asian-Inspired Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe
Below are some key and optional ingredients for this recipe:
- Tri-color rotini pasta: The different colors of the noodles will appeal to many eyes and adds to the freshness of the pasta with the vegetables! You can use regular rotini pasta, but I promise you the tri-color rotini is visually appealing!
- Olive oil: The olive oil will be one of the main components of the dressing and will provide a light coating to the noodles. Fun tip – To spruce up the pasta after a day or two, I like to re-toss the noodles with olive oil and some seasoning. It’s like it was made fresh all over again!
- Rice vinegar: This is the ultimate ingredient, and common in Asian dishes. Rice vinegar definitely packs a punch, so a little will go a long way. We used 1/3 cup in this recipe for that zing, but if it is too much, you can start with ¼ cup!
- Lemon: Lemon juice really adds a level of freshness to a dish! Have lemon wedges on the side for guests that may want extra on their pasta salad.
- Cherry tomatoes: Slice these cherry tomatoes in half to toss into the salad. Cherry tomatoes work great in a quick and easy pasta salad recipe as these tomatoes are slightly firmer and will hold their shape.
- Broccoli florets: Love broccoli in this dish! Roughly chop the broccoli florets after cooked to toss with the pasta. You can cook either fresh broccoli florets or steam a package. Either way works fine!
- Red onion: ½ a red onion is used and sliced in half-rings! The red onions will be raw, so you don’t need a lot. This texturizes this dish beautifully.
- Red chili flakes: You can add a sprinkle of red chili flakes to the dressing before tossing in the salad for some extra spice. Totally optional as this simple pasta salad recipe already has a ton of flavor.
- Sesame seeds: For a more robust flavor, sesame seeds will also pair well with the dressing and coat the pasta beautifully.
- Sugar: Sweetness is usually added to dressings high in acidity to tone down the tartness. In this easy cold pasta salad recipe, we love the amount of the rice vinegar with the olive oil. However, a sprinkle of sugar can be mixed with the dressing to tone it down if needed.
More Variations to this Asian-Inspired Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe
There are a few ways you can variate this Asian-inspired easy cold pasta salad recipe. Here’s how:
- Add more toppings! We love the basic seven-ingredient recipe as it’s super easy to make! However, for a splurge you can add diced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, chopped walnuts, or even add diced chicken to make this heavier!
- Do you have other cold salad recipes? Yes! Try our Filipino Sweet Macaroni Salad to Try Right Now tossed with chicken, celery, mayo, and even sweetened condensed milk among other delicious ingredients for a definite crowd-pleaser! Or our Easy Mexican Chicken Salad Tostadas Perfect for a Crowd, is a great chicken salad recipe that even includes diced potatoes and a habanero for a spicy kick!
- What can I pair with this dish? This easy cold pasta salad recipe will work great for a BBQ or for a gathering! Pair this dish with other yummy finger foods like our Party Favorite Sriracha Deviled Eggs with Shredded Parmesan. Or for a heavier option, our Tender Instant Pot Spicy Barbecue Chicken | Sweet and Spicy Drumsticks will work great. Yum!
Ready to expand your recipe collection and are interested in Filipino cuisine? Download our Top 5 Crazy-Cheap Ingredients You Need for Filipino Cooking and Where to Find It from my FREE LIBRARY to get you started!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What pairs well with cold pasta salad?
Cold pasta salad will pair great with other finger-foods or dishes you can find in a BBQ like deviled eggs, chicken wings, or even burgers.
Should I make pasta salad the night before?
For most pasta salads, plan for a minimum of 2 hours for the flavor to further develop. The pasta should also come to room temperature before serving.
How do you keep cold pasta salad from drying out?
Depending on the type of pasta salad, you can re-toss the pasta in an olive oil and pepper mixture. This will refresh one- or two-day old pasta salads.