This antipasto tortellini pasta salad features al dente cheese tortellini, chickpeas, fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, veggies, basil, and creamy Italian dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for BBQs or a quick and easy picnic lunch!

A closeup overhead image of a white oval plate topped with tortellini salad with veggies, Mozzarella, and basil placed on a wood tray next to a beige linen and basil on a grey speckled table.

I have strict rules when it comes to road trip food. First of all, road trip snacks must be easy to eat (forks are fine as long as you can eat it one handed but but anything more complicated is a no-go). They must also contain some form of cheese (real cheese, fake cheese, powdered cheese, it’s all welcome). And, it can’t be too messy. (Tacos? Croissants? Never again).

But antipasto tortellini pasta salad? It checks all the boxes. Not only is it filling and full of basically everything you need in a meal, but you get to avoid drive thrus and sketchy gas station sandwiches. Now that it’s summer and Marc and I are constantly in the car, I just whip up this tortellini salad, throw it in the mini cooler with some iced teas and a bag of potato chips, and voilà. We got lunch on the go.

A few details

This pasta salad has everything you love about an antipasto plate mixed with classic tortellini. It is basically the easiest recipe in the world, and it’s tossed with the best homemade creamy Italian dressing. You simply stir some al dente tortellini with whatever veggies, cheeses, and deli meats you have laying around. It’s my new favorite ‘clean out the fridge’ recipe for sure.

And, not only is it great for road trips, but it’s a huge crowd-pleaser at BBQs, picnics, and dinner parties. Seriously, no matter how much of this pasta salad I make, it’s gone by the end of the night. So, just keep that in mind whenever you give this a try!

first, gather your ingredients

Again, this recipe is made for cleaning out your fridge, but here are the ingredients that I used! Feel free to switch things up with whatever you enjoy eating on an antipasto plate! The only things that you for sure need is the tortellini and the dressing ingredients.

For the tortellini pasta salad…
  • Cheese tortellini – fresh or frozen both work great. I like Trader Joe’s tortellini.
  • Cheeses – I used Parmesan and mozzarella pearls.
  • Veggies – this recipe uses sundried tomatoes, pickled peppers, and cucumber.
  • Protein – I went veggie here with some chickpeas, but deli meats would be great too!
  • Herbs – you’ll definitely want some fresh basil here.
And for the creamy Italian dressing…
  • Red wine vinegar – white wine, champagne, or balsamic would be delicious too.
  • Seasonings – I usually go simple with Italian seasoning, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Mayo – to make it creamy!
  • Good olive oil – a higher-quality olive oil will add lots of flavor to the dish.
Two images; on the left, a white bowl filled with pasta salad ingredients on a grey table next to a bowl of dressing and wooden spoon. On the right, a side image of a woman wearing a white shirt pouring the dressing over the salad.

Let’s make it!

Like I said, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. And it lasts for days, so you can make it in advance if you want to keep things nice and easy! Here’s how to make it:

  • First, whisk up the dressing. Just whisk the vinegar, seasonings, and mayo until smooth. Then, slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk until it’s nice and creamy. Refrigerate the dressing until you’re ready to use it.
  • Next, cook the tortellini until it’s al dente. Drain it and rinse it well with cold water to stop it from cooking. Let it sit in the fridge to cool completely while you work on the other steps.
  • Prep the mix-ins. Chop the veggies, drain the beans, and slice up the meats and cheeses.
  • Lastly, mix it all together! Pour all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing, adding more to taste. Enjoy!

Ingredient Substitutions

There are so many ways to customize this antipasto pasta salad. Whatever you have in the fridge or enjoy eating can easily be tossed in!

  • Meat & Cheese – diced salami, prosciutto, cheddar, Jack, provolone, or any deli meat or cheese.
  • Veggies – tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, spinach, and even roasted veggies.
  • Pickled things – olives, roasted red peppers, pepperoncinis, giardiniera, or marinated artichokes.
  • Herbs – try chives, oregano, tarragon, or any other soft herb.
An overhead image of a woman's hand spooning antipasto tortellini pasta salad off of a white oval plate onto a black and white plate on a grey table next to a white bowl of peppers, white bowl of dressing, and beige linen.

What to serve with antipasto tortellini pasta salad

I love eating antipasto tortellini pasta salad on its own for lunch, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it! It’s also great for BBQs, picnics, dinner parties, camping, and luncheons. Try it with:

  • Grilled protein – chicken, pork, beef, sausages, fish, shellfish, etc.
  • Sandwiches – I love this salad with a good Italian sandwich, but meatball subs or even a veggie sandwich would be great too.
  • BBQ – pulled pork or smoked brisket would be amazing!
  • Italian dishes – I love serving this dish with a variety of summery Italian dishes like spiedini or bruschetta.

Can i make this salad in advance?

Definitely! I actually love making this pasta salad a few hours in advance to let everything marinate! If you’re going to make it ahead of time, definitely make sure the tortellini is al dente so it doesn’t get soggy. It will last in the fridge for up to three or four days. Pro tip: I recommend pulling it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before eating cause I personally think it tastes better at room-temp!

How to store

If you’re at a BBQ or picnic, don’t let it sit at room-temperature for more than 2 hours. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for three or four days. I especially love this recipe for camping cause we can eat it for lunch for a couple of days without any work!

Tips & tricks

  • This recipe will serve about 8 as a side, and 4-6 as a meal.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta, because it’ll soak up quite a bit of the dressing. If you overcook, it’ll end up being mushy.
  • If you use more tender ingredients like spinach, tomatoes, and soft herbs, add them right before serving. Otherwise, they’ll get just a little soggy. This doesn’t bother me too much but it’s all personal preference!
  • Toss the tortellini with a little olive oil after rinsing it off to prevent it from sticking.
An overhead image of a white plate with a black rim topped with antipasto tortellini pasta salad next to a white bowl of peppers, wood bowl of salt, beige linen, and basil on a grey counter. In the left upper corner is part of a white plate topped with more pasta salad.

More BBQ side dishes

Watermelon Salad with Feta & Nectarines
Raw Carrot Salad with Feta & Shallot Vinaigrette
Marinated White Beans

If you make this recipe, I would love if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!

A closeup image of a white oval dish with antipasto tortellini pasta salad on a wood board with a white background.
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Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Yield: 8 as a side
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Tender cheese tortellini tossed with veggies, mozzarella pearls, veggies, and creamy Italian dressing. My go-to for BBQs, road trips, camping, picnics, and luncheons!


Creamy Italian Dressing

  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad

  • 16 oz cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz Mozzarella pearls
  • 1/3 c sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c pickled peppers, like hot cherry peppers, pepperoncinis, etc.
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 c Parmesan, shaved
  • 1/4 c basil, julienned


Creamy Italian Dressing

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, onion powder, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper until smooth.
  • While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and emulsified. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad

  • Cook the cheese tortellini in a pot of salted, boiling water until al dente, according to package directions (about 3-5 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent it from cooking further. Let it cool completely at room temperature or in the fridge while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Toss the cooled tortellini with the chickpeas, mozzarella pearls, sundried tomatoes, pickled peppers, cucumber, Parmesan, and basil. Stir in half of the creamy Italian dressing. Taste, and add more dressing according to taste. Enjoy!


This salad can sit at room temp for up to 2 hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
I prefer this salad at room temp. I would recommend letting it warm up for about 30 minutes before serving!
Cuisine: American
Course: Side Dish
Serving: 1scoop, Calories: 380kcal, Carbohydrates: 35.2g, Protein: 17.5g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 6.3g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 462mg, Potassium: 194mg, Fiber: 4.7g, Sugar: 4.1g, Calcium: 280mg, Iron: 2mg
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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Hope by Alex G