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This Tortellini Pasta Salad recipe combines tender tortellini, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls with basil pesto for an easy summer side dish. Perfect for potlucks, a summer BBQ or a light dinner on its own!

bowl of tortellini salad with pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella.

Easy Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe

If you’re looking for an easy side dish perfect for summer, look no further than this delicious tortellini salad. It’s super easy to make with minimal prep time and comes together in about 15 minutes.

What makes this pasta salad a little different from others is that I use pesto sauce instead of salad dressing. One of my kids is a huge fan of pasta with pesto sauce, and she absolutely loves this salad. The rest of the family does, too!

I usually serve it with grilled chicken or Italian dressing chicken. You can also eat this Caprese pasta salad as a main dish for a light lunch or dinner.

fresh tortellini, olive oil, mozzarella pearls, pesto, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

Ingredients for Tortellini Salad

You only need a few simple ingredients for this simple side salad. Full amounts are in the printable recipe card below.

  • Tortellini — I use fresh cheese tortellini, but you can use frozen or dried pasta if that’s what you have.
  • Pesto sauce — Use your favorite brand of basil pesto or make your own. Fresh pesto is located in the refrigerated section in the grocery store, and jarred sauce is usually with jarred pasta sauce.
  • Cherry tomatoes — cut in half. Or, use smaller grape tomatoes.
  • Mozzarella pearls — If you can’t find them, slice larger mozzarella cheese balls into smaller pieces.
  • Fresh basil leaves — adds extra flavor and color
  • Olive oil — optional, you can drizzle over the salad if it looks a little dry when serving.

How to Make Tortellini Pasta Salad with Pesto

First, cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water. If you are using fresh pasta, it will only take a minute or 2 to cook. If using dried or frozen pasta, follow the package instructions.

Then, drain tortellini in a colander, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

cook tortellini on stove.

While pasta is cooling off, slice the tomatoes and basil. Then, add the pasta, sliced tomatoes, sliced basil and mozzarella to a large bowl.

tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and tortellini in mixing bowl.

Finally, add the pesto sauce in with the other salad ingredients, and gently toss to coat. It will be very green, but the pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it sits. You can top the salad with more fresh basil right before serving, if desired.

stir pesto sauce with salad.


Store the pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It keeps fresh for about 2-3 days. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of serving.

tortellini pesto pasta salad in serving bowl on table.


If you’re not a fan of pesto, use your favorite Italian dressing or Greek salad dressing. You can also use different pasta, such as rotini or penne pasta.

I love keeping this easy salad as simple as possible, but you can add red onion, sliced cucumbers, olives or artichoke hearts to make it heartier.

Recipe Tip

Don’t overcook fresh tortellini. It only takes 1-2 minutes to cook and will fall apart if cooked too long.

If making ahead of time, you may want to add more pesto or olive oil before serving if the pasta seems dry.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Try my Italian Pasta Salad or Greek Pasta Salad or BLT Pasta Salad and even more salad recipes your family will love.

5 from 1 vote

Tortellini Pasta Salad with Pesto

By: Dee
This Tortellini Pasta Salad recipe combines tender tortellini, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls with basil pesto for an easy summer side dish. Perfect for potlucks, a summer BBQ or a light dinner on its own!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 18 oz fresh cheese tortellini
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 6 oz fresh basil pesto sauce
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  • Cook the tortellini in a pot of boiling salted water
  • Drain in a colander, and rinse with cold water
  • Add the cooked pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves to a large bowl
  • Gently stir the pesto into the salad ingredients until well coated
  • Cover and refrigerated until ready to serve. Garnish with additional basil before serving, if desired



Do not overcook the pasta if using fresh tortellini. It takes 1-2 minutes to cook. For dried or frozen tortellini, follow package directions.
Add a little olive oil or more pesto sauce before serving if pasta seems dry.
Fresh pesto sauce is in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. You can also use a jar of pesto or homemade pesto. If you’re not a fan of pesto, substitute your favorite Italian dressing.


Calories: 240kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 334mg, Potassium: 63mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 442IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 154mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
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Recipe Rating


  1. Sherry says:

    A tasty cool salad for summer! Tons of flavor and so easy to make! My guests loved this! Going to try it warm too!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      So glad you liked the pasta salad, Sherry! Thanks!