Build Your Own Pasta Salad Bar

Feed a crowd, make entertaining easy, and please even the pickiest of eaters by setting up a pasta salad bar next time you entertain.  Everyone eating can serve themselves and create their favorite flavor combinations. You can also choose one night a week to make pasta salad the main entree for a family meal and use up any leftover ingredients. 

Setting up “bars” may be one of the easiest ways to feed a crowd with varying tastes and ingredient preferences. Whether it is a chili bar, taco bar, Dessert Crostini Bar, pasta salad bar, baked potato bar….(this list could go on forever)….serving recipes deconstructed allows individuals to choose their favorites. And let’s not forget my darling, very choosy little ones that likely wouldn’t eat any pasta salad if it had something strange in it that they couldn’t pick out.

Below I’ve shared ideas for types of pasta, vegetables, seasonings, cheeses, proteins and more for an easy, crowd-friendly pasta salad bar.

How to Build a Pasta Salad Bar


  • Corkscrew
  • Tortellini
  • Rotini
  • Bowtie
  • Gluten Free


  • Feta
  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Mozzarella Balls
  • Goat Cheese
  • Queso Fresco


  • Grilled Shrimp
  • Chopped Chicken
  • Pulled Pork
  • Bacon Bits
  • Hard Cooked Egg


Fresh Vegetables

  • Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Avocado


Canned & Jarred Vegetables

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • White Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Corn


Seasonings, Herbs, Dressing

  • Salt/Pepper
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried Italian Seasoning
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Vinaigrette
  • Pesto


Do you love chaos in the kitchen as much as I do? What about when cute kids cause said chaos? If yes to both of these questions then you can’t miss this Southern Living Facebook Live with Ellie, Frances and me sharing our tips on building a pasta salad bar! Literal chaos in the kitchen!!


Favorite Pasta Salad Bar Recipes


Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Company Pasta Salad with Veggies 

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Build Your Own Pasta Salad Bar

  • Author: Holley Grainger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Use this guide when building your pasta salad bar. The ingredients can easily doubled to feed a larger crowd.



  • 12 lbs pasta of choice
  • 12 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup meat or shrimp
  • 68 oz cheese
  • 4 cups vegetables
  • 1/31/2 cup vinaigrette (pesto, or salad dressing)
  • 2 tbsp to 1/4cup fresh herbs
  • Salt/pepper (if desired)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions making sure to not overcook.
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water then toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Offer meat, cheese, and vegetables in individual containers.
  4. Mix together a favorite vinaigrette to serve alongside pasta salad bar or use a prepared dressing or pesto.
  5. Provide fresh herbs, salt, pepper and other desired seasoning for garnish.