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This balsamic Caprese pasta salad is a light, quick, and simple vegetarian side dish that’s perfect for picnics or BBQs.

balsamic Caprese pasta salad in a white bowl beside cloth napkin

This pasta salad has the delicious classic Caprese flavor combination of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, with balsamic vinegar and olive oil making up the dressing.

It’s a nice alternative to the many mayo-soaked pasta salads that typically make the rounds at summer events.

close-up of easy Caprese pasta salad in a bowl

I added some red onions and parsley in here for an extra burst of flavor, but other than that, this pasta salad is true to the traditional Caprese flavors. I call this pasta salad a side dish, but it would also work as an vegetarian main course too. 

It’s deliciously simple and does not need a ton of ingredients. 

With that said, please DO adjust the dressing ingredients to your specifications – some will prefer more dressing, but I wrote this recipe with moderation in mind.

The pasta does mute the flavors somewhat, so I found that giving this salad a little “bite” with the onion and balsamic vinegar definitely lifted it a notch.

simple Caprese vegetarian pasta salad in a bowl

I’m all about quick and fresh warm-weather meals these days. We’re finally starting to see some warmer temperatures here! Hallelujah! Fussing around in the kitchen is best done when it’s too cold to go outside – not when the patio is waiting! 😉 I have plenty more fresh spring/summer recipes coming in the next few months. In the meantime, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors again! 🙂

More Caprese recipes you can try:

bowl of easy Caprese pasta salad in a bowl with penne

Love easy summer pasta salad recipes? You may also like my simple grilled chicken pasta salad, my Mexican street corn pasta salad, or my classic macaroni salad recipe.

Have you made this tomato mozzarella basil pasta salad? I think you’ll like it!

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about this Caprese pasta salad recipe!

This balsamic caprese pasta salad is a fresh, quick, and simple vegetarian side dish that's perfect for picnics or BBQs.
5 from 1 vote

Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad

A light and refreshing pasta salad with the classic Caprese flavors of basil, fresh mozza, and tomato. Tossed with a delicious balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 4 cups uncooked penne
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella or Bocconcini (see note)
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • Handful grape tomatoes halved
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or to taste
  • Large handful fresh basil torn
  • Fresh parsley chopped, to taste
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it under cold water. Ensure it's properly drained again before adding it to a large bowl.
  • Add the mozzarella, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, oil, basil, parsley, and salt & pepper to the bowl. Gently toss it. Adjust vinegar, oil, and seasonings as needed depending on how much dressing you like. Chill for an hour or serve immediately.


  • Serves 6+ as a side dish.
  • I bought an 8 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella and broke it into bite-sized pieces for the photos. You could also try those mini Bocconcini. I love the ones packed in oil & herbs. 
  • When I make this salad, I add extra balsamic vinegar and plenty of salt & pepper. I wrote this recipe with customization in mind. You have to play with the dressing to make it taste the way you like e.g. if you prefer more/stronger dressing.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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5 from 1 vote

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  1. S.C. says:

    When you say 4 cups of uncooked penne, do you mean 2 16 oz boxes of uncooked penne?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! For this I would have put the uncooked penne into a measuring cup. I think it could work out to less than 2×16 oz boxes (I can’t remember offhand – this recipe is from 2017), so I would measure it out to be sure you don’t end up with way too much pasta.

  2. Karen McKeon says:

    Can’t wait to make it for our Labor Day get together.

    1. Natasha says:

      Hope you love it!!

  3. Rita says:

    I just made this salad for a summer lunch. We love caprese salad and was in the mood for pasta, so, I made this recipe. We enjoyed it very much! Couldn’t wait to taste it so we did not bother with refrigerating it for an hour. Delicious!

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so happy you liked it, Rita!! Thanks for letting me know.

    2. Patti says:

      Delicious. I used garlic instead of onion.

      1. Natasha says:

        So glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Danielle says:

    I wanted to love this recipe but it was terribly bland and I followed it to a T. It needed to much more balsamic and oil than this, and a lot of salt and pepper to make it have any flavor whatsoever.

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi Danielle, I’m sorry you didn’t like it. Cooking (especially in recipes like these) is all about adjusting ingredients to you preferences. That’s why I said “salt and pepper to taste” – there is quite a bit of pasta in here, so yes, it’s expected that a fair amount is needed. I even mention in step 4 that you’re going to need to adjust ingredients (including the vinegar) as needed. There’s no way for me to come up with a recipe that will please everyone’s taste buds unfortunately. When I make it I do add more balsamic and plenty of salt and pepper. Everyone I’ve made it for has loved it. Some people will like it with less dressing, so that’s the way I wrote the recipe. You can always add more dressing, but you can’t take it away. I will update the post to make it even more clear.

  5. Dany says:

    Can u make this the day before?
    Looks yummy

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you! That should be fine, but I would probably add the basil the day of unless you don’t mind it going a little soggy. Hope you enjoy this recipe!!

  6. Sain says:

    5 stars
    Your husband is lucky,that’s all.

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks 🙂

  7. Lindsay | With Salt and Pepper says:

    Sounds like the perfect BBQ addition!! I love a vinegar pasta salad…something so refreshing about that tang!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Lindsay!!

  8. Rebecca says:

    Looks wonderful!!

    1. Natasha says:


  9. Taylor @ The Girl on Bloor says:

    OMG this looks like the perfect recipe for summer!!! It’s lunchtime and you’re absolutely torturing me!! Then again this looks easy enough to make in the next thirty minutes…hehehe

    1. Natasha says:

      Haha thanks, Taylor. I am hungry too. It’s almost lunchtime here and I’m meeting my husband for food today, and it can’t come soon enough!

  10. Natasha's Sister says:

    Are you going to make this for our first picnic of the summer!?

    1. Natasha says: