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California Spaghetti Salad is a delicious pasta salad filled with fresh veggies and covered in a zesty Italian dressing.  With all those flavors and colors making one beautiful and tasty side dish, there is no doubt this will be the hit of your next gathering!

I love delicious, cool salads in Spring and Summer like Creamy Pea, Cauliflower Broccoli, and Cucumber Tomato Salad. Enjoy your salad at your next BBQ!

The top view of spaghetti pasta salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Easy California Spaghetti Salad

As the weather begins to change and warm up at this time of year, I find myself looking for recipes with a fresher and lighter feel.  I especially love quick and easy cold pasta salads! This California spaghetti salad only took 15 minutes to make, and it was a hit with my guests.  It is vegan-friendly, so it is great to bring to a potluck.

This recipe is great to make ahead of time because it tastes better as it sits. It’s coated in a zesty Italian dressing (made from scratch) and all of the ingredients really soak up that flavor. All of the amazing veggies packed inside add so much texture, flavor, and color to the pasta. It is the perfect finishing touch to this pasta salad.

The Best California Spaghetti Salad Ingredients

These ingredients are simple and easy, and you probably already have most of them on hand. This recipe is great to make ahead of time so that the flavors can all blend together. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of the post for all of the exact measurements.

  • Spaghetti: Use thin linguine and break it into 1-inch pieces to make it easier to eat.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Chopped them in half to make them more bite-sized.
  • Cucumber: The cucumber gives this salad the fresh taste I love.
  • Bell pepper: I used red, but swap for any color of pepper you prefer. Make this recipe your own!
  • Red onion: If you don’t like biting into the raw onion, marinate them in the dressing first to lessen their strong flavor.
  • Olives: The olives are very salty and delicious!

Salad Dressing Ingredients

  • Italian salad dressing: Use any Italian dressing you love because you are going to amp it up with all the other seasonings to create your own version of this staple dressing. I love using this homemade version.
  • Parmesan cheese: Grated and combined with the dressing to cover each part of the salad with its great nutty flavor.
  • Sesame seeds: Add a rich, nutty flavor to the dressing.
  • Paprika: Adds great color to this dressing and is the perfect addition to this California spaghetti salad.
  • Celery seed: These little seeds pack all the powerful flavors of celery- earthy, grassy, and slightly bitter- that balance out this dressing.
  • Garlic powder: The extra garlic powder helps the flavor stay strong even when chilled.

Let’s Make a Pasta Salad!

This California spaghetti salad comes together in less than 15 minutes, and then all you have to do is let it sit and soak up all of the flavors. Once your noodles are cooked and ready to go, you have to throw everything in and mix it all up!

  1. Cook the pasta: Make according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Combine all ingredients: Add cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, green and red bell pepper, red onion and olives to the pasta in a large bowl.
  3. Make the dressing:  Whisk together Italian salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, paprika, celery seed, and garlic powder.
  4. Toss the salad in dressing: Pour dressing over the salad and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
A collage of 4 photos showing how to combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Tips and Variations

Here are a few different ways that you can change up this California spaghetti salad and make it unique every time!

  • Vegetables: Get creative with this versatile dish and swap out vegetables. For example, try favorites like broccoli or yellow and orange bell peppers.
  • Pasta: Use other pasta shapes.  Some of my favorites, like Rotini or Farfalle, would work fantastic!
  • Cooling Pasta: This pasta salad is best when it’s fresh out of the fridge. So, keep it cooling until right before serving.
  • Make it Ahead: This is a great make-ahead recipe! It’s even better the next day, so I usually make it the day before and store it in the refrigerator overnight. This really gives all the flavors time to combine and soak into the pasta!
  • Pasta Tip: After draining the salad, dunk the pasta in an ice bath (equal parts water and ice in a large bowl) to shock them.  Then, your noodles will not soak up too much of the dressing and become gummy.
A close up of a bowl of California spaghetti salad.

Storing Leftovers

This California spaghetti salad tastes just as good (if not better!) the next day! As long as you store it properly, this makes the perfect lunch all week long.

  • In the Refrigerator: Store your salad in an airtight container in your fridge, which should last up to 5 days. Because the noodles soak up all the dressing, I like to keep some additional dressing on hand and add it to the salad just before serving. This makes it taste like you just made it!
A side view of the bowl of spaghetti salad with a wooden spoon scooping some out.

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California Spaghetti Salad

4.95 from 17 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
California Spaghetti Salad is a delicious pasta salad filled with fresh veggies and covered in a zesty Italian dressing.  With all those flavors and colors making one beautiful and tasty side dish, there is no doubt this will be the hit of your next gathering!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Refrigerate Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12 Servings




  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain using a colander and rinse in cold water.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.

To make the dressing:

  • Whisk together italian salad dressing, parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, paprika, celery seed, and garlic powder. Pour over salad and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.



Updated on April 30, 2021
Originally Posted on May 29, 2015


Serving: 1cupCalories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 735mgPotassium: 272mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 754IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 1mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Italian American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!


California Spaghetti Salad
California Spaghetti Salad

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night for supper. My daughter was home Vt. visiting and it was her last night. We invited her best friends over for a simple BBQ, just hot dogs and pasta salad. Everyone loved it! It is so LOADED with veggies… so GOOD!

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks For Your Nice Post. Iam Really enjoyed to see the post.Thanks for Sharing the delicious recipe. Thanks Again.

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks For Your Nice Post. Iam Really enjoyed to see the post.Thanks for Sharing the delicious recipe.

  4. Wow Just made this this morning for a picnic with my family. Amazing amazing flavor. I substituted cucumber for celery as the celery stays crunchy or longer and I find cucumbers go a bit mushy after a few hours. I also chopped in some fresh chives and parsley from the garden. Amazing tasty delicious summer salad enjoy

  5. Great recipe! Made it for a family get -together! It took me longer than 15 minutes to prep, but I take my time with things. Thank you!!

  6. 5 stars
    Easy to make, refreshing when it’s hot outside! Tastes delicious. I added a little garlic pepper at the end!!

  7. I used to make this all the time. Thanks for the reminder. Also I did not use the seeds, I love that idea. I am going to do that next time

  8. 5 stars
    This looks amazing and I’m looking forward to making it. Any suggestions on how to lower the sodium content to make this a more heart-healthy option? The 1243mg is half of the recommended daily allowance, and nearly an entire sodium allowance for those on a 1,400 mg for heart healthy diets.

    1. Jane gave you a disrespectful answer. Make your own dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try a different cheese or leave that out. This salad is fast and easy and graciously accepts change.

  9. Husband bought fat free Italian dressing….Has anyone tried this before? It sounds gross to me lol

    1. I usually use it raw but you are welcome to cook it before hand if you prefer it cooked in the salad. Either way is a great crunch and flavor with the soft noodles and other ingredients.

  10. It is excellent just the way it is Alyssa !!! It was a perfect summer potluck dish that you didn’t have to worry about refrigeration. Great for work lunches too:)

    I cook a lot and when searching for a new recipe I look for ingredients I know my family and friends will eat and enjoy.

    I have a pet peeve and that is people that say they tried a particular recipe but yet they made so many changes to the ingredients that it is no longer the dish they are critiquing. California SPAGHETTI salad has spaghetti in it. It has Italian dressing not a dairy product added. Why make it at all if you changed it so much? Then look for a recipe that has the ingredients you have on hand or want to use.

    1. I totally agree with Joy. Why change a recipe that is “tried and true” with so many different ideas and variations when you can make up your own recipe the way you like it? The addition of shellfish – shrimp or crabmeat – is a nice addition – if you want to serve it as a main dish instead of a salad side dish.