I love the pasta salad you can buy in shops and would love to be able to make something comparable. The part that I love the most is the dense, thick pasta that comes in these salads.

When I try to reproduce this at home by making standard pasta shapes and leaving them to cool, I end up with thin rubbery pieces that are dull and disappointing.

So, how can I make great pasta for pasta salads? In particular, what pasta should I buy and how should I cook it?

  • I'd think you should buy some of the same shapes that you see in the salads you like... you could go find a chart of pasta shapes online and figure out a name, perhaps? Or do you mean you're cooking the same shapes and they somehow get thinner?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 20:47

3 Answers 3


Penne or fusilli work well in pasta salads. The key to cooking pasta well is:

  • Use as big a pan as possible, with plenty of water, to dilute the starch that comes out of the pasta.
  • Add plenty of salt - a good couple of tablespoons of sea salt, more for a big pan.
  • Get the water to a proper rolling boil, add the pasta, stir, put the lid on the pan to get it up to the boil again quickly. There is no need to add oil if you do this.

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions, but check it a couple of minutes before it should be ready. You want it to have a bit of bite, not be totally soft.

Get your dressing onto the pasta ASAP to prevent it from drying out, and drizzle with good olive oil to help it last longer.

  • adding the dry pasta to plenty of boiling water is hugely important. if you don't, the lower temp of the pasta will bring down the temp of the water below boiling and you'll end up with slimy pasta that's slightly bitter. boil lotsa for pasta! Commented Feb 1, 2011 at 2:06

I mostly use spirelli in pasta salads, but other thicker pasta works as well. I just cook them in a good amount of water (with salt/oil), nothing fancy really. But don't cook them too long or they will be too soft and not tasty.

I don't know about the packages in your country, but here, the time is always too short (you hardly can call it al dente), so if you cook it the time written plus one additional minute, you have the perfect time for pasta salad pasta :)

But it is of course a question of taste, so I would recommend to vary cooking times and see what you like best.


check website of jamie oliver: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/a-basic-recipe-for-fresh-egg-pasta Work every time for me.

Goos luck.


  • 2
    If he's trying to recreated pasta salad from shops, odds are, making your own pasta isn't going to do it. At the very least, you'd need a pasta extruder to get most shapes used for pasta salads, as you most don't use rolled pasta.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 5:40

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