Pasta salad is a staple at all of my summer parties, barbecues, and picnics. Cold pasta tossed with veggies, meats, and favored with a zesty dressing is a classic that is always a hit.
Because everyone loves pasta salad it's always one of the first dishes to go so I like to serve it with a lot of sides so everyone has enough to eat. The perfect dish to serve with pasta salad should be picnic friendly: easy to prep and easy to serve.
Ready to picnic? Here are 15 of my favorite recipes to serve with pasta salad!
Crispy fried chicken pairs great with creamy pasta salad. Plus, since your protein is the fried chicken itself you can skimp on meat with your pasta!
Hot dogs on the grill are a summer favorite for all ages. I like to choose all-beef hot dogs but you can opt for traditional or turkey dogs as well or even grill up these BBQ glazed smoked sausages.
Since we're talking about the grill, hamburgers are another great options. Serve with a variety of burger toppings to let everyone customize to their own taste.
Oh, how I love pulled pork! Make it on the smoker or in a slow cooker and dress with your favorite BBQ sauce for a picnic to remember!
Finger sandwiches can be made ahead of time for an easy picnic meal. Meat and cheese, chicken salad, pimento cheese, caprese sandwiches with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes; or cucumber with herbed cream cheese are a few of my favorite options.
Roll ups, or pinwheels as they are sometimes called, are another great make-ahead side dish. Roast beef and spicy mustard pinwheels are my favorite but ham and cheese or turkey are popular options as well.
What's a picnic without deviled eggs? These rich and creamy appetizers are also on my short list of party favorites that are always gobbled up in a flash!
Baked Beans or Calico Beans
Baked beans are another summer favorite. The rich, smokey flavor is the perfect compliment to the smooth, cool pasta salad. To make the meal even more filling, upgrade to calico beans made with ground beef and bacon!
Corn on the Cob
Whether you boil it or grill it, corn on the cob is a great easy recipe to serve with pasta salad, especially if your salad already has a protein added. The crisp crunch of the corn is a great contrast with the soft and creamy pasta.
Grab your favorite BBQ sauce or seasoning rub and serve them up! Cold pasta salad is especially good if you serve up your BBQ chicken wings with a spicy hot sauce.
Smoking ribs is one of my very favorite meals for a crowd. They don't take as long to smoke as larger cuts of meat like Boston Butts or brisket and they are always a hit.
Chop up vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or peppers and serve with a dip for a fun finger food appetizer complement.
Like hard boiled eggs, egg salad is a great picnic dish. Serve on its own to eat with a fork or with soft rolls for egg salad sandwiches.
Like grilling hamburgers or hot dogs, a nice grilled steak is a great option to serve with pasta salad.
Serve savory salad pasta with sweet fruit. Sliced watermelon, fruit salad, pineapple spears, or simple sliced apples and grapes are all delicious options.
Now that you know what sides to serve, here are some ideas of things you can toss with your pasta to customize your own perfect pasta salad recipe:
- ham cubes
- feta cheese
- cubed cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- chopped bell peppers
- chopped red onion
- olive oil & red wine vinegar
- chopped fresh parsley
- store-bought vinaigrette
- shaved parmesan cheese
- Italian salad dressing