Pasta dredged with olive oil, mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and zest is topped with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and shredded basil in this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad. A nice light and refreshing salad, perfect for this time of year.
Lemon Basil Pasta Salad
Pasta salads are a summer staple around here. With wanting to spend more time outdoors and less time in the kitchen, pasta salad is my quick go-to dish. It’s easy to create one on the fly by using whatever you’ve got in the fridge along with some pantry staples but once you make this lemon basil salad, you’ll see and taste how simple and flavorful pasta salad can be and you’ll be adding this recipe to your summer repertoire.
Lemon Basil Pasta
There’s never a better time to enjoy fresh basil than in the summertime. Local, fresh from a farmer’s market or grocery store, basil really is the most flavorful this time of year.
This pasta salad is ideal for a quick summertime lunch, potluck salad, or as a great side dish with your favorite barbeque meal. There really isn’t an occasion that doesn’t call for this easy pasta salad in my mind. Kids love it, adults love it and there are rarely any leftovers.
Leftovers, if there are any, taste great the next day and will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. If your lemon pasta salad looks a bit dry, drizzle it with olive oil and more fresh lemon juice before enjoying it again.
Lemon Basil Pasta Salad
This recipe was originally written for my blog by my dear friend, Brandi, the woman behind Aunt Bee’s Recipes. She guest posted here and this is what she had to say:
“My name is Brandi. I am from Alabama and have a blog called Aunt Bee’s Recipes where I share our family’s favorite Southern classic recipes. When Michaela asked me to guest post, I felt so honored! I have been a fan of her blog for a while, even before we became friends. She is a blogger I look up to so much! It is a big deal to guest post on a blog like this, and I wanted to post something worthy of her beautiful website.”
This fresh and light lemon basil pasta salad will not disappoint. It comes together in just a few minutes with a handful of ingredients. Double the recipe if you are feeding a crowd or if you want to have leftovers the next day. Serve cold straight from the fridge or at room temperature. The choice is yours.
Ingredients for lemon basil pasta salad
For complete ingredients and instructions scroll to the bottom of this post for the full printable recipe.
Pasta: One box of dried pasta. Any type of pasta works, though short-shaped is best. Gluten-free pasta can be substituted if necessary. Cooked al Dente.
Olive oil: I prefer extra virgin olive oil but any kind will work.
Mayonnaise: Any type of mayonnaise will work.
Lemons: You’ll need lemons to make lemon juice and lemon zest.
Lemon pepper seasoning: adds a depth of flavor.
Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is best.
Fresh basil leaves: Fresh basil, chiffonade. Chiffonade is shredded or finely cut. It is used as a method of cutting herbs.
How to make this lemon basil pasta salad recipe
So simple to make, this pasta salad comes together in just a few minutes.
First: Cook pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water from the pot before draining.
Second: While the pasta cooks, prepare the lemon dressing.
Combine olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and lemon pepper seasoning in a small bowl.
Third: Shake off any excess water from the pasta and toss it in a large bowl with the sauce, reserved pasta water, Parmesan cheese, and basil.
Fourth: Refrigerate for several hours. Top with extra Parmesan cheese, basil, some black pepper, and a touch of kosher salt, if desired, before serving.
Make your Own Lemon Pepper Seasoning with my Easy Recipe!
This lemon basil pasta salad will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months though I find the texture of pasta changes slightly when you freeze it.
Love it? Pin it!
If you love this recipe for lemon basil pasta salad make sure that you don’t lose it! Pin it to your favorite Pinterest recipe board before you go!
What are the five mistakes to avoid pasta salad? There are a few things you can do to avoid making a mistake when you make pasta salad; choose the right shape pasta; usually short is best for a salad, don’t over or undercook the pasta, and make sure to add enough seasoning for the best flavor. Mix in the dressing while the pasta is still warm to ensure the pasta gets properly coated and don’t make the salad too far in advance as it may get soggy.
What do you do with lemon basil? Lemon basil is a type of basil that can be used wherever a recipe calls for fresh basil. Feel free to add it to salads, throw it in a soup or stew or use it to season chicken.
Does pasta need to cool before making pasta salad? No, there is no need to rinse the pasta with cold water to cool it down before you turn it into a salad. Unless you prefer eating a cold pasta salad.
Remember that when it comes to making substitutions in recipes, you don’t need to be afraid to get creative and use ingredients that suit your personal taste and dietary preferences. Make it your own!
Use pesto with pine nuts as a substitute for the basil.
Mix in peppery arugula, red onion, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and artichoke hearts, and turn it into a Mediterranean pasta salad.
Tips & Tricks
Use short pasta to make this pasta salad, spaghetti, and fettuccine are not the best options but bowtie pasta, ziti, penne, or fusilli will work best. Orzo pasta works well in a salad too.
Make it a hearty meal and add cooked chicken, grilled steak, or shrimp.
Throw in some fresh veggies like bell peppers for color and crunch.
More Pasta Recipes to Love
Creamy Lemon Basil Shrimp Pasta (Pictured above)
Way better than Trader Joe’s lemon basil pasta salad, this fresh and flavorful homemade salad is a real crowd-pleaser. Quick and easy, you can get this basil pasta salad on the table in no time and watch it disappear.
- 8 ounce box pasta
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
- 1 Tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 2/3 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
- 1/2 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
- Cook pasta al dente (reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water from the pot before draining.)
- While the noodles are boiling, prepare the sauce by combining olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and lemon pepper seasoning.
- Toss pasta noodles with the sauce, reserved pasta water, Parmesan cheese, and basil.
- Refrigerate for several hours.
- Top with extra Parmesan cheese and basil if desired before serving.
Make your own Lemon Pepper Seasoning with my easy recipe! Find it HERE.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 442Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 1018mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g
Nutrition isn't always accurate.
This recipe was originally posted on June 30, 2014. It has been updated to improve user experience and reshared on August 3, 2023.