Healthy cold pasta lunch ideas – well, there’s a lot of them. Were you aware that pasta is by far the most famous Italian invention? When I think about Italy, first thing that comes in my mind is hot pizza with plenty of cheese and beautiful beaches loaded with people.
When it comes to lunch, we don’t always have the time to sit down to a decadent meal. That’s why I’m here with 10 delicious cold pasta lunch ideas that you can make in advance! From pasta salads to wraps, these recipes are easy and extremely tasty.
Healthy Cold Pasta Salad Recipes
When it’s warm out, though, I find myself making more and more cold pasta.
Whether I’m making a box of Suddenly Salad pasta salad or a homemade orange orzo salad, I get equally excited.
It seems like cold pasta is just so flavorful and zesty. That’s not always the case, of course.
Some of the options on this list are spicy or savory, but they’re not any less robust or tasty.
Just remember: Although many of these salads are quick and easy to make, most of them taste better after spending some time in the fridge, so plan accordingly.
1. Grandma’s Macaroni Salad
Cool, creamy, and full of celery, onions, peppers, and more, Grandma’s macaroni salad is unlike other options out there for macaroni salad.
It takes only 30 minutes to make, and it has an earthy taste with just a hint of sweetness that makes it hard not to eat the whole bowl by yourself.
If you’re looking for a tasty, refreshing side dish for a barbecue or cookout, look no further than this recipe.
2. Italian Pasta Salad
This recipe always reminds me of the pasta salads you can make with a box of Suddenly Salad, but this one has a lot more going on and tastes 100 times better than the boxed stuff.
The pasta is tender and well-seasoned; the parmesan and mozzarella add a rich cheesiness, and the extra veggies give the whole thing a garden-fresh taste that’s hard to beat.
If you need a vegetarian-friendly pasta salad, leave out the salami. It makes the dish much lighter, too.
3. Greek Pasta Salad
Between the feta cheese, onions, and black olives, this Greek pasta salad has plenty of intense, bold flavors. The dressing is similarly flavorful.
It’s made from olive oil, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and red wine vinegar.
It has a complex, zesty kick that pushes the whole salad into “delicious” territory.
The added veggies are great as written in the recipe, but feel free to vary them up if you have fresh garden veggies to use up in the summer.
4. Spaghetti Salad
Believe it or not, even spaghetti noodles taste good cold, at least when you toss them in store-bought or homemade Greek vinaigrette and add plenty of veggies and feta cheese.
This salad tastes relatively similar to the Greek pasta salad mentioned above. The only real difference is in the type of noodles you’ll use for it.
5. Cold Soba Noodle Salad
If you’re looking for a cold pasta dish with an Asian flair, try cold soba noodle salad.
The veggies are fairly commonplace and straightforward – carrots, green onions, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
You can also add some peanuts, cashews, or edamame for extra texture.
However, none of that is what gives it the Asian touch. That’s all about the dressing.
Made from ginger, lime, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and Asian chile sauce, this sesame lime ginger dressing simply screams “yummy Chinese takeout!”
6. Cold Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
The ingredients list for this sesame noodles dish looks intense, but it’s remarkably easy to make.
Other than boiling the noodles, you’ll only have to whisk and mix.
It, too, has a bit of an ethnic flair to it, and you’ll appreciate the crunch of the sesame seeds and cucumbers.
7. Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad
Just because the pasta is cold doesn’t mean that it can’t set your mouth on fire.
If you enjoy meals that are full of heat, you’ll love this vegan-friendly spicy peanut pasta salad.
It’s both slightly sweet, thanks to the peanut butter, brown sugar, and peanuts, and super spicy. It’s also totally authentic.
8. Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
If you’re looking for a macaroni salad that’s more sour than sweet or savory, this is it. I love this salad, but I make funny faces whenever I eat it.
It’s a quirky, zesty dish, and best of all, you can whip it up in 15 minutes or less. Don’t forget to refrigerate it, though!
9. Orzo Salad with Vegetables and Feta
Despite its appearance, orzo is pasta, not rice, and it’s the ideal ingredient for this dense, hearty salad.
It’s meant to be a side dish, but it’s so filling, you can serve it by itself and have quite the meal.
This salad is a bit zesty, but mostly, it’s fresh and full of flavor.
The chickpeas don’t add much in the way of taste, but they’ll fill you up quickly. If you want a lighter version, leave them out.
10. Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
So far, most of these pasta dishes have been vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. Well, here’s one for my meat-loving friends.
This simple salad combines ham, cheese, pasta, onions, and peppers.
The dressing is a light, slightly tangy mixture of mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
This whole thing is sheer simplicity, and you can have it done in only 15 minutes.
(Like all the others, though, it tastes better after some time in the fridge.)
Pasta salad recipes
Storecupboard pasta salad
This pasta salad makes a quick and healthy lunch, or is perfect prepared ahead for a picnic or lunchbox
Pick & mix pesto pasta salad bar
Put out all the ingredients for classic pasta salad with pesto dressing and let the kids pick whatever they like to stir in – it’s great for fussy eaters
Scandi beetroot & salmon pasta
Eat well at work with this easy-to-prepare Scandinavian-inspired beetroot and salmon fusilli salad. It’ll keep you going through the afternoon
Tortellini with pesto & broccoli
A speedy pasta salad with Mediterranean flavours – perfect for packed lunches
Greek pasta salad
For a fresh idea with pasta, try Greek salad
Pasta salad with pesto & prawns
This is a wonderful, zingy dish, perfect for a lunch out in the garden – use our recipe for homemade pesto to make it extra special
Pesto pasta salad
Enjoy this veggie pesto pasta salad with cucumber, peas, cherry tomatoes and basil for an easy family meal. It’s great for a packed lunch or summery picnic
Speedy tuna pasta salad
A quick pasta using leftovers from the night before. Makes a great packed lunch
Prawn & avocado pasta salad
A tasty and superhealthy summer salad
Creamy pesto & chicken pasta salad
If you need a quick boost of carbohydrates, try this filling and nutritionally-balanced pasta salad
Chicken & pasta salad
For a speedy, superhealthy supper this pasta dish is just the thing – save leftovers for lunch the next day
Prawn, dill & cucumber pasta
Supper can be ready in 25 minutes with just six fresh ingredients and a bag of pasta
Favourite pasta salad
A low-fat, zesty salad, perfect for a summer lunchbox – vary with your favourite ingredients
Vegan pasta salad
This tasty vegan pasta is packed with crunch and flavour and a zesty soy and ginger dressing
Orzo & mozzarella salad
This Mediterranean-inspired pasta salad makes a fresh and vibrant addition to any picnic, barbecue or buffet
Hot pasta salad
This a good source of vitamin C and packed full of veg. Take some to work
Bacon & avocado warm pasta salad
Stir crispy fried bacon and pesto into orzo pasta for a quick dinner or easy packed lunch
Warm sausage & broccoli pasta salad
A simple midweek supper of short pasta flavoured with chilli and garlic, served with pork chipolatas
Pasta salad with tuna, capers & balsamic dressing
Update tuna pasta salad by skipping the mayo and adding balsamic vinegar, olive oil, colourful tomatoes and celery
Rainbow orzo salad
This small, rice-like pasta is ideal for bulking out nutritious salads. This version is made with roasted vegetables, cheese and basil
Pizza pasta salad
Layer up pasta with sundried tomato pesto, salami, olives, plum tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil in this clever lunchbox mix
Anytime pesto & prawn pasta salad
Lemon zest and crème fraîche make this seafood pasta dish with king prawns and green beans rich and zingy – enjoy it hot or cold
Broad bean, pea & orzo salad
Serve rice-like pasta grains with peas and beans, basil and a soured cream and Parmesan dressing