Best Layered Pasta Salad


If you’re looking to take your pasta salad game up a few notches this summer, you’ve got to try this gorgeous Layered Pasta Salad recipe! It’s the ultimate picnic, potluck or backyard bbq contribution that’s sure to get folks oohing and ahhing over those stunning layers of vibrant veggies, savory ham and cheesy goodness.

But let me tell you, this impressive layered beauty isn’t just a feast for the eyes. Those bright pops of color reveal fresh, crisp flavors in every bite that mingle with the zingy homemade dressing and chewy pasta to create a true symphony of delicious textures and flavors. It’s the kind of dish that instantly elevates any warm weather gathering.

What makes this layered pasta salad so special is the delightful combination of ingredients and how they come together in artistic layers. Let’s take a closer look:

The Layers of Summertime Perfection:

  • Al dente macaroni pasta for the perfect chewy base
  • Crisp romaine lettuce for freshness and crunch
  • Juicy diced bell peppers bursting with sweetness
  • Zingy hits of red onion to balance it all out
  • Tender, sweet pops of green peas
  • Unexpected crunch from finely chopped celery
  • Savory diced ham for protein
  • Bursts of briny black olive deliciousness
  • A creamy, tangy, mayo-based dressing to drench everything in flavor
  • And of course, a glorious topping of shredded cheddar cheese!

I mean, just looking at that layered beauty in the clear glass dish gets me so excited for summertime eating! The colors, the textures, that dressing oozing through those fresh chopped veggies – it’s simply mouthwatering.

Now the really brilliant part about this layered pasta salad is that you can make it well ahead of time. In fact, you need to make it at least 5 hours before serving to allow all those glorious flavors to meld together into chilled perfection. It’s the ultimate convenience for any party host!

Simply boil the pasta until al dente, drain and let cool completely. Make the super simple dressing, chop all the veggies and ham, and then start layering away! The prep is so simple but the payoff is huge.

When you’re ready to serve, give it all a gentle toss so that gloriously creamy dressing can coat everything. Then scoop away into bowls, top with some extra cheese or olives, and wala! You’ve got a pasta salad that is sure to be the star of the show.

Whether you’re hosting a backyard shingdig, need something crowd-friendly to take to the neighborhood potluck, or just want to meal prep some delicious chilled lunches for the week, this recipe is a total winner. Vibrant, fresh, unique and utterly craveable – it’s the best way to pasta salad!

I can’t wait for you to give this Layered Pasta Salad recipe a try. Leave a comment with your favorite summer dishes you think need a gorgeous layered makeover next! Happy picnicking, friends!

Layered Pasta Salad Recipe

What makes this layered pasta salad so special is the delightful combination of ingredients and how they come together in artistic layers.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 15


For the Dressing:

For the Salad:

  • 3 cups cooked macaroni pasta cooled
  • 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups diced ham
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • Make the dressing by whisking together the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper until fully combined.
  • In a large glass bowl or trifle dish, start layering the salad ingredients in this order:
  • Lettuce
  • Pasta
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Ham
  • Black olives
  • Dressing
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 hours to allow flavors to blend.
  • When ready to serve, give the salad a gentle toss to distribute the dressing throughout.
  • Dish into bowls and enjoy! Feel free to top with extra cheese, olives or dressing.