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California Spaghetti Salad

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California Spaghetti Salad will be the star of your next gathering! This delicious pasta salad is filled with fresh summer veggies and slathered in zesty Italian dressing. And it makes a big batch so it’s perfect for potlucks and parties.

During warmer months I rely on easy cold pasta salads like zesty Italian pasta salad and easy no bake recipes. They make great lunch options and are easy to customize based on the ingredients you have on hand.

Not to mention on warm summer days, I can’t bear the thought of cooking a big meal that heats up the entire house. Feel the same way? Be sure to check out my favorite 12 no cook recipes for hot summer nights

Front view of a bowl filled with California Spaghetti Salad with a fork in it.

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This easy California spaghetti salad recipe is a staple at our summer potlucks. Mainly because it’s so simple to prepare and it makes a lot! It can easily serve a crowd and you can even double the recipe if needed.

Chilled salads like this one are often better the next day, so I like to make it ahead of time to give all the flavors time to get to know each other. 

For a dessert, I like to keep the same cool theme and serve a summer berry cheesecake salad. Our crowd goes crazy for it. It has a lighter feel than a traditional cheesecake and the berries are super refreshing. 

Whether you’re hosting a summer picnic, need something to take to a potluck or looking for a tasty side dish for dinner, this California Spaghetti Salad recipe will not disappoint!

We’re sharing tips to help you get the best results with this recipe. If you don’t need the tips, scroll to the bottom for the full recipe and a printable recipe card.

Ingredients needed to make California Spaghetti Salad with text overlay labels.

Ingredients to Make California Spaghetti Salad: 

Dressing Ingredients:

  • Italian salad dressing – use regular or a zesty version
  • Grated parmesan cheese – the kind in the green shaker bottle
  • Seasonings – we’re going to pump up the flavor of the bottled dressing with sesame seeds, paprika, garlic powder, celery seeds

Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Thin spaghetti noodles – use your favorite brand
  • Salt – to add flavor to the pasta
  • Veggies: cherry tomatoes, large cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, black olives, yellow squash, and zucchini.

How to Make Homemade California Spaghetti Salad

Clean the vegetables and with a sharp knife, slice them into small, bite-sized pieces. Set these aside for later use.

Side by side images of dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and pasta in a pot of water with text overlay.

In a small mixing bowl, blend together the spices, sesame seeds, parmesan cheese, and the Italian dressing. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the pasta salad.

Heat a large pot of water until it’s boiling. Add the spaghetti and salt, cooking it until it reaches an al dente texture.

Two images of pasta in a serving bowl and veggies added to the top of the pasta with text overlay.

Empty the pasta into a colander and instantly rinse it with cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain well.

Place the cooked noodles and chopped vegetables into a large bowl.

Side by side images of dressing being added to the pasta salad ingredients and the mixed Salad in a bowl with text overlay.

Drizzle the dressing mixture over the salad ingredients and mix well to ensure everything is evenly coated.

Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours or let it sit overnight.

If desired, you can transfer the contents to a decorative serving bowl just before serving.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Homemade Pasta Salad

  • The veggies are the star of this dish so make sure your vegetables are at their prime.
  • While we don’t break the spaghetti when making traditional pasta dishes, it’s easier to eat when it comes to pasta salad. That said, you don’t have to break them if you don’t want to.
  • Rinsing the pasta with cold water stops the cooking process so the noodles do not over cook. 
  • Do not skip the chilling process. It allows all of the delicious flavors to soak into the pasta and veggies.
  • Just before serving, add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese over the top of the finished dish for the perfect finishing touch.
Overhead view of a bowl filled with California Pasta Salad.

Classic California Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

Pasta: angel hair, vermicelli, penne, elbow macaroni or bowties.

Veggies: this California pasta salad recipe is easily customizable. You can swap or add in other veggies of your choice.  

Peppers: we like the colors of the red and yellow, plus they are a little a sweeter. You can also use orange or green bell pepper if that’s what you have on hand. 

Cheese: some prefer to use crumbled feta cheese in place of the parmesan.

Meat: add diced salami or pepperoni for a heartier salad.

What to Serve With Spaghetti Pasta Salad

Serve this pasta salad as a tasty side dish with juicy BBQ baked chicken thighs, air fryer beef kabobs, or crockpot pulled BBQ chicken

How to Store Leftover Pasta Salad

Keep leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The pasta and vegetables tend to get mushy when stored longer.

Stir again just before serving. If the spaghetti mixture seems dry after storing, add a little extra dressing or a splash of olive oil and stir to mix it in. 

More Easy Salad and Dressing Recipes: 

California Spaghetti Salad in a bowl with a fork with text overlay.

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Front view of California Spaghetti Salad in a large bowl with a fork.

California Spaghetti Salad

This California Spaghetti Salad is sure to be a hit at your next get-together or family dinner! This mouth-watering pasta salad is packed with fresh seasonal vegetables and drenched in a tangy Italian dressing. It's a great choice for parties and potlucks.
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Course: Main Dish Pasta, Main Dish Salad, Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Chill Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 18 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 359kcal
Author: Lori @ A Reinvented Mom



  • 16 ounce bottle Italian salad dressing
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds


  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into halves or thirds
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large English cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 6.5 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced


  • In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk together until combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
  • In a large pot over high heat, bring water and salt to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
  • Drain pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water to halt the cooking process and reduce the temperature.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the drained pasta and the diced fresh vegetables.
  • Add the prepared salad dressing and mix until everything is evenly coated.
  • Place in the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours or overnight if making ahead of time.


  • You can substitute these pasta options if preferred: angel hair, vermicelli, penne, elbow macaroni or bowties.
  • This recipe is very forgiving and easily customized. Feel free to adjust quantities or swap out for your favorite fresh veggies.
  • Finish with a sprinkling of shredded parmesan if desired.
  • This pasta salad tastes best chilled. 
  • The salad can be made a day ahead of time.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If stored longer the pasta gets gummy and the veggies start to get mushy. Stir before serving. If it seems a bit dry, mix in a little extra dressing.
Tried this recipe?Mention @AReinventedMom or tag #areinventedmom

Nutritional Estimate

Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 1535mg | Potassium: 481mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 968IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

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