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This Caprese Pasta recipe is made with only a handful of fresh ingredients such as pasta, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Coated in an Italian balsamic dressing and can be served warm or cold.
Caprese Pasta Salad
If you love classic Caprese salad and pasta, you will love this delightful Caprese Pasta recipe! Made with the same ingredients as classic tomato caprese and makes a great side dish or appetizer the whole family will love.
We marinate the tomato mixture with a homemade dressing for the best flavors before adding the pasta. Caprese pasta salad takes minutes to make and can be served right away or chilled in the refrigerator if you prefer it cold. You can easily make this the day ahead if you wanted to bring it to a potluck, holiday, or party. This makes a fun and festive dish on Christmas because of the vibrant red and green colors :).
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Pasta: Use your favorite pasta for this. I love using a short pasta shape for pasta salads so it’s easier to eat. Use whole wheat pasta for a healthier twist! It’s always best to use al dente pasta.
- Fresh mozzarella balls: I could eat fresh mozzarella cheese straight up as a snack, it’s so good! I love using the bite-size mozzarella balls but you could also cut the balls in half. Cutting fresh mozzarella into cubes or using fresh mozzarella pearls or marinated herb mozzarella balls would also work perfectly.
- Grape tomatoes or sweet cherry tomatoes: I love to cut them in half so everything in this salad is bite-sized. Any kind of fresh tomatoes will work.
- Fresh basil leaves: Fresh is always best as opposed to dried basil. The basil adds fresh flavor, similar to the classic caprese.
- Homemade dressing: We use extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a garlic clove, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Alternatively, you could use a white balsamic vinegar instead of regular balsamic vinegar.
how to make caprese pasta recipe
Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions or until al dente.
Make dressing: In the meantime, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together in a medium bowl until combined.
Marinate ingredients: Add tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls, basil, and dressing and toss to coat. Let sit until pasta has cooled.
Add pasta, stir, and serve: Add cooled and cooked pasta and toss until pasta is coated in the dressing. Serve or place in the refrigerator to get cold. Enjoy!
recipe tips & variations
- Always salt your water: Generously salt pasta water with about 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot of boiling water. I usually add 1 tablespoon of salt for every pound of pasta I boil. This will add more flavor to the pasta.
- Double the recipe: Since this pasta salad lasts well in the refrigerator, I always recommend doubling the recipe because it will go quickly and you could enjoy it for a snack, side dish or lunch.
- Let your pasta salad rest: Once you’ve made the pasta salad, let it sit in the fridge to get cold and for the flavors to sit in- for about an hour. This will help make the caprese pasta salad extra flavorful and perfectly chilled.
- Make the night before:You can prep this pasta salad the night before if you want to save time. Be sure to leave out the fresh basil so it doesn’t get soggy and add it in the next day.
- Add meat: Make this a main course by adding your favorite protein or top the pasta salad with grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp.
- Gluten-free: Make this a gluten-free pasta dish by using gluten-free pasta.
- Add-ins: Cucumbers, avocado, bell peppers, onion, pesto, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, prosciutto, or salami.
- Add spice: Add more black pepper or red pepper flakes to add heat.
leftovers & storage
- To-store: Caprese pasta is even better the next day because the flavors sit together making this even better tasting. Place leftovers in an airtight container or cover the dish with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days.
- To-freeze: Make the recipe as directed then place in an airtight container or heavy duty ziplock bag. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, refrigerator overnight or leave out on the counter for a few hours until softened.
*If the pasta salad seems dry after sitting in the fridge or after defrosting, drizzle a little olive oil or add more fresh pesto and stir until combined.
Other pasta dishes
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Caprese Pasta Recipe
- 1/2 pound pasta of choice
- 8 ounce fresh mini mozzarella balls
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup fresh basil shredded
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions or until al dente.
- In the meantime, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together in a medium bowl until combined.
- Add tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls, basil, and dressing and toss to coat. Let sit until pasta has cooled.
- Add cooled pasta and toss until pasta is coated in the dressing. Serve or place in the refrigerator to get cold. Enjoy!