Add this Tortellini Pasta Salad to your summer picnic plans. The creamy homemade dressing, crunchy bacon, and broccoli make this easy picnic salad a hit with everyone.
Last week, I changed up this broccoli salad by adding some tortellini pasta and smoked sausage. It was a delicious way to turn the side dish into a full meal.
Why This Cold Tortellini Salad Works
Your friends and family will love this delicious classic pasta salad recipe twist. It's creamy, cheesy, and made with cheesy tortellini, fresh broccoli, and crunchy bacon. The cold side dish is great for any summer activity!
- Easy to Prepare. The pasta can be cooked and cooled beforehand, then mixed with other ingredients for a convenient and easy dinner.
- Versatile. Customize your salad with various types of tortellini, veggies, and dressings like Italian vinaigrette, pesto, or balsamic dressing.
- Summer-friendly. The dish is great for outdoor picnics and potlucks because of its fresh ingredients and chilled temperature.
- Crowd-pleasing. The combination of bacon, creamy dressing, and pasta makes this salad popular with kids and adults.
This broccoli tortellini salad is the perfect choice for dinner or picnics. With just a handful of fresh veggies and simple ingredients, it's easy to whip up and incredibly delicious.
- Cheese Tortellini - Find these in your local store's refrigerated or freezer section. Feel free to use the regular or tri-color ones.
- Fresh Broccoli - Chop the florets into bite-sized pieces that fit on a fork.
- Bacon - Cook and crumble it ahead of time.
- Smoked Sausage - This meat is fully cooked, so you can eat it as it is.
- Cheddar Cheese - Shredded cheese can be evenly distributed throughout the salad. If you would like larger chunks of cheese, cut a block of cheese into smaller cubes.
- Salad Dressing - Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, red wine vinegar, and honey to make a homemade pasta salad dressing. You can substitute any creamy sauce you prefer.
BruCrew Tip: Make these bacon jalapeno deviled eggs with the leftover bacon.
How to Make Tortellini Salad
You won't believe how easy this tortellini pasta salad recipe is. Just combine everything, and voila, it's ready to enjoy!
- Cook the tortellini. Cook the noodles to al dente, then rinse with cold water. You can make these the night before if you like. Just drizzle a little olive oil on them before refrigerating them.
- Prep the ingredients. Chop the veggies and slice the sausage.
- Assemble the salad. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate until right before serving.
- Stir in the dressing. Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and honey. Pour over the salad and stir until coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate the broccoli tortellini salad in a covered airtight container. It will stay fresh for 3-4 days. Remember that the pasta will absorb the dressing, so add more before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Add other veggies. Sliced black olives, red onion, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, or diced red bell peppers add flavor and color.
- Replace the cheese. Try mozzarella balls, provolone, feta cheese, or parmesan cheese.
- Try other proteins. Add diced ham, grilled chicken, or pepperoni in place of the sausage.
- Use store-bought dressing. If you have a creamy sauce that you like, use that in place of the homemade version. An Italian dressing also tastes good.
- Make it creamier. This recipe is made with a light amount of dressing. If you or your family likes creamier salad, double the sauce.
- Stir in the dressing right before serving. The pasta will soak the sauce if you add it to the noodles ahead of time or refrigerate it overnight.
Yes, this is a great salad to make ahead of time. Stir together the salad ingredients minus the dressing and refrigerate. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and chill them in a separate jar. Add the sauce right before serving.
Rinsing the cooked pasta in cold water stops it from cooking. It also removes the excess starch, so the noodles will not stick together as they cool.
That comes down to your taste preference. Feel free to use the homemade dressing in this recipe or any store-bought sauce. You can make a homemade vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil or use other condiments like pesto.
More Cold Salads with Pasta
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*This post was first published in May 2017. It was updated and republished in August 2023.