This Italian Instant Pot pasta salad is a lovely addition to summer barbecues. Just pressure cook rotini with your favorite Italian dressing and mix in a healthy blend of Italian-inspired ingredients, all in only 20 minutes!
It's also delicious served with freshly baked homemade bread, like garlic bread, cheese bread, and Italian bread. For a rustic feel, rye bread is also a great choice. Italian pasta salad also makes a great side dish for warm grilled chicken and juicy hot dogs with classic french fries or sweet potato fries.
I make this easy pasta salad a little different than I do when making my caprese pasta salad and Mexican street corn macaroni salad. Instead of cooking the pasta separately and then mixing it with the dressing and other ingredients, I pressure cook the pasta with cherry tomatoes and Italian dressing right in the pot.
The pressure cooked cherry tomatoes add a bit of sweetness to balance the zesty flavor of the Italian dressing. With all other ingredients being fresh, this pasta salad has a hearty, yet refreshing and satisfying taste that's perfect for any barbecue, especially on Memorial Day and 4th of July.
- Rotini: I like to use tri color rotini. Other short pastas work great too, like farfalle or penne.
- Italian dressing: use your favorite brand for a flavor you'll love the most! Mine is Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing.
- Italian dry salami: or your favorite salami, pepperoni, pastrami or combination of all.
- Cherry tomatoes: or use grape tomatoes.
- Black olives
- Kalamata olives
- Mozzarella pearls: or any fresh mozzarella cheese that's diced into small pieces.
- Parmesan cheese: grated parmesan cheese is mixed into the pasta salad and shredded parm can be added when serving, if desired.
This easy Instant Pot pasta salad recipe has a quick prep time and only 3 minutes cook time.
STEP 1: Add the uncooked rotini to the pressure cooker inner pot. Pour in 3½ cups of cold water and the Italian dressing. Press the pasta down so it's submerged in the water as much as possible. Add one cup cherry tomatoes, left whole.
STEP 2: Close and seal the lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 3-5 minutes. *Cook time depends on your pasta brand. Cut the time on your pasta box in half, then subtract 1 for soft pasta and 2 for al dente pasta.
STEP 3: When pressure cooking is complete, quickly release the pressure. If too much liquid comes out of the vent, stop the pressure release. Let it natural release for about 15 seconds, then quickly release the pressure again. Remove the lid, stir the rotini and transfer to a serving dish immediately.
STEP 4: Stir in the diced salami, sliced kalamata olives, sliced black olives, mozzarella pearls, and grated parmesan cheese. Slice the remaining cherry tomatoes in half and add to the pasta salad. Toss salad and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Make It Spicy: Add a generous amount of crushed red pepper flakes or spicy salami.
Make It Gluten-Free: use gluten-free pasta and make sure your Italian dressing is labeled gluten free.
Make It Vegetarian: eliminate the meat and replace with tofu.
Make It Vegan: eliminate the meat and replace the mozzarella pearls with a vegan mozzarella cheese.
- Remove the pasta to a serving dish immediately after it's done cooking to prevent it from overcooking over the hot heating element.
- Once the salad has been mixed, let chill in the fridge until ready to serve. This pasta salad is best served cold or at room temperature.
- The grated parmesan cheese can be added once the pasta cools to prevent it from melting.
- For extra flavor, salt the water with about 1 tablespoon of salt before pressure cooking.
How To Store
Store pressure cooker pasta salad in a covered container for up to 7 days in the fridge.
Instant Pot Pasta Salad
- Add the pasta to the pressure cooker. Pour in 3½ cups of cold water and the Italian dressing. Press the pasta down with a spoon so the water covers as much pasta as possible. Add half of the cherry tomatoes.
- Close and seal the lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on high for 3 minutes (see notes on pasta cook times).
- When pressure cooking is complete, quickly release the pressure. Remove the lid, stir pasta and transfer to a serving dish.
- Stir in the diced salami, sliced kalamata olives, sliced black olives, mozzarella pearls, and grated parmesan cheese. Slice the remaining cherry tomatoes in half and add to the pasta salad. Stir well and serve with shredded parmesan cheese.