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Creamy Cheddar Pasta Salad with a simple dressing is a fantastic side dish for a summer BBQ! It’s versatile too – add in broccoli or any other veggies that you’d like!
Pasta salad is like the ultimate summer side because it’s versatile with so many different options to change it up. While I love a classic macaroni salad like my recipe for Easy Macaroni Salad or my BBQ Macaroni Salad with smoky kielbasa sausage, I’ve discovered a new pasta salad that I like just as much… Creamy Cheddar Pasta Salad!
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How to Make Creamy Pasta Salad
Here is a brief overview of how this pasta salad with cheese cubes comes together. For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Cook the pasta. Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta. Then drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water until it has cooled.
- Make the dressing. In a large bowl whisk together the mayo, sugar, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and dried parsley. Add the pasta and stir to coat it.
- Add the other ingredients. Stir in the chopped red bell pepper, celery, finely chopped onion, and chunks of cheese.
- Chill and enjoy! Put the salad in the refrigerator for an hour before serving and enjoy.
Cooking Pasta For Pasta Salad
While cooking pasta seems like a super simple step of making pasta salad, a few things are important to note.
- Use plenty of water. Cooking a pound of pasta requires 4-6 quarts of water. Since your pasta expands while it cooks, it needs to be fully covered. I like to salt my water to add a little flavor to the pasta.
- Make sure your water is really boiling. Do not add the dry pasta to the water until you see big roaring bubbles.
- Set a timer. Follow the directions on the package for the cooking time and set a timer so you don’t overcook it.
- Rinse the pasta. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain the water and rinse it under cold water until the noodles are cool. This stops the cooking process.
Dressing For Pasta Salad
One of the most important elements of a good pasta salad is the dressing. I used mayo, a little bit of sugar to sweeten it up a bit, and some apple cider vinegar to add a little zing! Whip up the dressing while the pasta cooks. If you want your pasta salad to be more creamy, add more mayonnaise.
This cheesy pasta salad can be changed to fit your tastes or depending on what you have on hand. Here are a few ways to mix it up:
- Add broccoli. Broccoli is delicious in this pasta salad recipe, but you can add any other vegetables that you like as well. Make sure to dice them finely.
- Mix up the cheese: I’ve made it with mild cheddar cheese, and I’ve also made it with cheddar-jack cheese. Use whatever you have on hand, just make sure to cut the cheese into small bite-sized chunks.
- Use a different pasta: You can use whatever medium pasta you like or have on hand.
Storing Pasta Salad
This pasta salad should be eaten within three days of making it. If it sits out at a picnic or potluck for more than two hours, you should toss it. Always use your best discretion with leftovers.
Be sure to let the pasta salad chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving. Enjoy!
Other Pasta Salad Recipes
If you are looking for other pasta salads to make, try one of these delicious crowd-pleasers! Don’t forget to check out our other amazing pasta salads!
If you make this cheese pasta salad recipe or any of my other recipes, leave a comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you and how you enjoy my recipe!
Creamy Cheddar Pasta Salad
- 1 pound rotini or pasta of choice
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- 3 ribs celery finely chopped
- 8 oz cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- fresh chopped broccoli optional
- Cook rotini according to package directions, then drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta has cooled. Drain well.
- In a large bowl combine mayo, sugar, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and dried parsley.
- Combine the cooled pasta with the dressing and stir in the chopped red bell pepper, celery, finely chopped onion, and chunks of cheese.
- Chill for one hour before serving. Enjoy!