Instant Pot Pasta Salad

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Instant Pot Pasta Salad is made with rotini pasta and filled with fresh vegetables, cheese, pepperoni and Italian dressing to make a perfect summer salad in a flash.

» You might also like Instant Pot Spaghetti and Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai.

A bowl of pasta salad
 

Pasta salad is a fantastic side dish that is easy to make and incredibly delicious. It’s the salad you find on just about every table during the summer because everyone loves the contrast of fresh veggies, spicy pepperoni, and zesty Italian dressing.

This recipe is made even easier by cooking the pasta in an Instant Pot. The instant pot cooks the pasta in record time, so you can have a delicious pasta salad in less than 20 minutes! A quick and simple dinner recipe is possible!

Ingredients You Need

Ingredients for pasta salad
  • Rotini Pasta: feel free to use another type of pasta, but pasta shapes with nooks work best to capture the flavorful dressing in every bite. Tri-color pasta is a fun addition if you can find it.
  • Cucumber: It has a refreshing taste and nice crunch – perfect for a summer salad. I use Japanese cucumbers or remove the watery seeds to keep the salad from getting soggy. 
  • Bell Pepper: Any color of bell pepper works. It adds a beautiful color to the salad and a bright taste. 
  • Cherry Tomatoes: The best thing about cherry tomatoes is the burst of flavor and slight crunch that regular tomatoes don’t really have. They also keep the water level low so the salad doesn’t get soggy like it will if you use chopped tomatoes instead.
  • Red Onion: Gives a subtle spice to the pasta salad. White or yellow onions can be used as well.
  • Black Olives: Adds a salty umami flavor to the pasta salad, but feel free to skip it if you don’t like olives.
  • Pepperoni: It’s a bit spicy and gives the salad a nice meaty flavor. You can use other types of meat as well like ham or bacon. 
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese: Use fresh mozzarella balls, if you can find them.
  • Italian Dressing: It’s tangy with a hint of sweetness. You can buy it in a jar, mix it fresh from a packet of seasoning, or even make your own from scratch.

How to Make Instant Pot Pasta Salad

Combine the pasta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid on and set the vent to sealing. Press the pressure cook button and set to cook for 3 minutes on high. It will take about 5-10 minutes for the pot to come up to pressure.

Uncooked pasta in the Instant Pot

When the cook time is complete, allow for a 3-minute natural pressure release before doing a manual release of the remaining pressure. Be sure to set an alarm for yourself so you don’t let it sit for longer than 3 minutes. I’ve had more than one pot of pasta overcook because of missing the 3-minute window.

You can be chopping the veggies and preparing the rest of the ingredients while the pasta is cooking in the Instant Pot. Once everything is chopped, put it all into a large mixing bowl. You’ll add the pasta to this bowl once it’s cooled.

Cut up veggies, pepperoni, and mozzarella balls for pasta salad

When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it under cold water until the pasta is no longer warm. Add the pasta to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top and stir well.

Pouring dressing on a bowl of pasta salad

While technically the salad is ready to be served, it does gain more flavor as it sits, so I always refrigerate it until I’m ready to serve, or for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors build.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Vegetarian or Vegan: skip the pepperoni to make the pasta salad vegetarian-friendly. For a vegan pasta salad, don’t use pepperoni and mozzarella, and make sure to buy a vegan-friendly Italian dressing. 
  • Dressing: most dressings work in this recipe, so experiment and see what you enjoy.
  • Spicy: mix in some crushed red pepper flakes, or mix your dressing of choice with a bit of hot sauce. Either one will add a nice kick to the pasta salad.
  • International: instead of olives and mozzarella, add in some beans and corn for a Mexican pasta salad.
  • Sweet: add some sweetness to the pasta salad with raisins or dried cranberries.
A bowl of pasta salad

Questions About the Recipe

Can I make this recipe without an instant pot?

Of course! Instead of making the pasta in an instant pot, make it on the stove instead. Follow the cooking instructions on the packaging.

How long can I store the instant pot pasta salad?

Store the pasta salad in an airtight container, then place it in the fridge for about 4 days. I often add more dressing to the salad after it has been in the refrigerator. The pasta can soak up the dressing making the salad a bit dry. Stir it up, add a bit more dressing and it is great as leftovers.

Tips for the Best Outcome

  • Instant pot pasta salad tastes good the day of, but it tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to marinade together.
  • Don’t use fresh pasta in this recipe, dried works best. Short pastas like bowtie pasta are also preferable to long pastas like linguini.
  • It’s better to add the dressing while the pasta is warm, because it will have an easier time soaking up the dressing’s flavors.
A bowl of pasta salad

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

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A bowl of pasta salad

Instant Pot Pasta Salad

Instant Pot Pasta Salad is made with rotini pasta and filled with fresh vegetables, cheese, pepperoni and Italian dressing to make a perfect summer salad in a flash.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

5 from 28 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Pressurize Time 8 mins
Total Time 16 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 395 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 6 ounces rotini pasta
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 small can black olives sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni slices cut into quartered
  • 15 mini balls fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing

Instructions
 

  • Combine the pasta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid on and set the vent to sealing. Press the pressure cook button and set to cook for 3 minutes on high.
  • When done, allow for a 3 minute natural pressure release before doing a manual release of remaining pressure.
  • Meanwhile, chop all the veggies and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse under cold water until the pasta is no longer warm. Add pasta to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 19gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 413mgPotassium: 288mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 857IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 273mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Pasta
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A bowl of pasta salad

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