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Tortellini Pasta Salad

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This divine Tortellini Pasta Salad is easy, delicious, and packed with wholesome ingredients. Grilled chicken is paired with cheese tortellini, fresh pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese!

tortellini pasta salad in bowl

Pasta salad is a delicious and refreshing dish that combines cooked pasta with fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and a flavorful dressing. The pasta is usually cooked al dente and then chilled before being mixed with the other ingredients. This pasta salad is set apart from the rest by using cheese tortellini instead of regular pasta. This adds amazing flavor and texture and takes regular old pasta salad to a whole new level!

Pasta salad is perfect for picnics, potlucks, or as a side dish for a summer barbecue. It’s easy to make, customizable, and always a crowd-pleaser. I’ve included a detailed step-by-step guide so you can make the best pesto pasta salad!

ingredients for tortellini pasta salad

Ingredients for the Best Tortellini Pasta Salad

As always, this is a quick overview of the ingredients needed to make the perfect pasta salad with chicken and tortellini. To get the complete, printable recipe scroll to the recipe card.

  • Tortellini: you can use your favorite variety, but I prefer a plain cheese tortellini since this dish has so many other great flavors and textures.
  • Cooked Chicken: this can be grilled, rotisserie, or leftover chicken.
  • Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are the easiest and look the prettiest, but if you have garden fresh slicing tomatoes dice those up; they will work too.
  • Fresh Mozzarella: for this recipe, I suggest using small mozzarella pearls; they are the perfect size.
  • Parmesan cheese: grated parmesan, also called powdered parmesan is needed.
  • Balsamic vinegar: adds excellent depth and flavor to this recipe.

How to Make Tortellini Pasta Salad

In addition to the ingredients listed above you will just need a pot to boil the pasta in, as well as a large mixing bowl to mix the salad. To make the absolute best pasta salad follow the easy instructions below.

Cook the Tortellini

pasta in sauce pan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and add the tortellini to the boiling water and very gently stir. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, likely 3-4 minutes total. Be sure to cook the pasta to a nice al dente texture so it holds up nicely in the pasta salad.

Once the tortellini is cooked, drain and rinse under cool water. Be sure not to use a full strength flow on your faucet so you do not risk bursting the pasta. Gently rinse the tortellini with water for about 20 seconds, drain well and place in the fridge to cool for about 15 minutes.

Add Chicken, Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Next, add the chopped, cooked chicken, sliced cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls to the bowl with the chilled tortellini salad. Keep in mind you want to slice the chicken and tomatoes into nice bite size peices.

Add Dressing Ingredients

pesto pasta salad ingredients in bowl

Lastly, add the pesto, parmesan, and balsamic vinegar. These three ingredients make a creamy, herby, flavorful dressing that compliments the other ingredients perfectly! This is truly an impressive dish that everyone will love!


Chill the salad about 30 minutes before serving. This gives the ingredients a chance to meld and maximizes the flavor. This is a complete meal on it’s own because it contains, carbohydrates, protein and veggies. It is an excellent potluck meal because it can be made in advance and easily served.


  • Protein: switch things up with tuna, drained and rinsed chickpeas, and sliced meats like pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto.
  • Vegetables: add in chopped spinach, kale, shredded carrots, broccoli, or heirloom tomatoes.
  • Dressing: instead of balsamic vinegar and pesto you can use your favorite Italian dressing or simply oil and vinegar.
  • Flavor Makers: olives, artichokes, pepperochini peppers, and other fresh herbs are excellent additons that add loads of flavor.
pasta salad in bowl


Pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Pasta does absorb moisture as it sits, so you may need to add a little more balsamic vinegar, pesto or olive oil to freshen up the pasta salad.

You can leave pasta salad at room temperature for 90 minutes, up to 2 hours. After this, you will need to discard the salad. I would not recommend freezing the salad as the textures will not hold up.

If you love Pasta Salad you will Also Love:

  • Tuscan Chicken Pasta – This hot dish is a favorite for people who love great textures! Sundried tomatoes, spinach, shallots, and garlic all in a creamy parmesan sauce with tender chicken and pasta!
  • Cold Asparagus Salad – Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and avocado are bulked up with tasty asparagus in a simple vinaigrette! Great for lunches or a light meal.
  • White Bean Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette – You will love this salad! Marinated white beans dress the salad with a citrusy vinaigrette that works well with the smoked gouda and crunchy bacon! You can easily bulk it up with leftover rotisserie chicken to stretch it further.
  • Broccoli Salad with Bacon – Everyone loves this at potlucks and holidays! Crispy bacon, crunchy almonds, salty cheese, and tender broccoli make the perfect combination in a mayo dressing.
  • Asparagus Tomato Panzanella Salad – This impressive salad combines the fresh flavor of asparagus, tomato, and herbs with the hearty, healthy fats in bread, oil, and mozzarella. It’s filling and great for cookouts!
This divine Tortellini Pasta Salad is easy, delicious, and packed with wholesome ingredients. Grilled chicken is paired with cheese tortellini, fresh pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese!

Pasta Salad FAQs

Do I have to cook pasta al dente for pasta salad?

Yes, it’s very important to not overcook the pasta! Overcooked pasta can be too soft and will fall apart in the salad. The marinade will continue to soften the pasta as it sits, so cook until just al dente.

How long does pasta salad last?

At room temperature, pasta salad is only safe to eat for about 2 hours — It should be thrown out if left out longer than that. If pasta salad is stored in an airtight container in the fridge, it can last up to 2-3 days! Simply refresh with a little extra balsamic vinegar and parmesan, then you’re good to go.

tortellini pasta salad in bowl

Tortellini Pasta Salad

This divine Tortellini Pasta Salad is easy, delicious, and packed with wholesome ingredients. Grilled chicken is paired with cheese tortellini, fresh pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Snack
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 578 kcal


  • 1 ½ lbs cheese tortellinii
  • 1 ½ cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
  • ¾ cup basil pesto
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese pearls
  • ½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt


  • Cook the tortellini according to package directions, drain, place them in a large bowl and then place them in the fridge to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once cooled, add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until well combined. Chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
  • Once chilled, toss again and serve!


This recipe will keep for about 2 hours out at room temperature. After that, it needs to be discarded!
This recipe is cheesy, zesty, and really herby! It’s perfect for a pesto and cheese lover!
You can use any type of tortellini for this pasta salad!
Use rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken in this recipe for the best flavor!
This pasta salad also makes a great light lunch with the chicken and pasta, but it’s also great for a potluck or BBQ! It’s easy to make ahead, and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Calories: 578kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 51.4gFat: 37.6gCholesterol: 89.6mgSodium: 2107mgFiber: 1.1gSugar: 2.8g
Keyword Pasta Salad, Tortellini Pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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