15 Perfect Picnic Pasta Dishes

As April fades into May, our thoughts turn to early-summer outdoor gatherings. Weekends are filled with calls to family, friends, and neighbors, inviting them to join us for casual picnics in the backyard or park. With good food and great company, these occasions are the season’s highlight. To make hosting a breeze, here are 15 pasta dishes perfect for serving a crowd, enduring the Southern heat, and easy to whip up.

Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad

Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Clair Spollen; Food Stylist: Torie Cox











This easy side salad boasts the star of pickled shrimp, mingling with fresh herbs and creamy pasta, making it a delightful addition to Southern summers. One reviewer raved, ‘Made it for guests for Memorial Day and it was a huge success. Very, very good.’ It’s fresh, flavorful, and perfect for any occasion.


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Summer Orzo Salad

Summer Orzo Salad

Photographer and Prop stylist: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray













This 5-star salad is tailor-made for family gatherings. Bursting with ripe, juicy summer tomatoes, it’s ideal for preparing in generous portions. A delighted reviewer exclaimed, ‘This salad was amazing! I made it for lunch with the girls and we inhaled it! We all went back for seconds and thirds. Will make it again and again. I used heirloom-type cherry tomatoes, which complemented all the other flavors. It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s sure to become a staple.

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna Pasta Salda

Caitlin Bensel











Looking to elevate your ordinary pasta salad? Turn to tuna! This easy salad is a fantastic lunch idea and perfect for enjoying warm summer days out on the porch or patio.”

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Classic Macaroni Salad With Ham

Maccaroni Salad

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist Shell Royster










There’s nothing quite like a two-step salad that comes together quickly, needing just a bit of chilling time (2 hours, to be exact). However, one 5-star reviewer couldn’t wait, saying, ‘Loved it even before I let it chill for two hours. I was so hungry.’ Sometimes hunger trumps patience!”


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Cowboy Pasta Salad

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall









Recipes inspired by casseroles are always a hit. Introducing this classic recipe that combines some of our favorite ingredients – black beans, corn, cheese, and ground beef – into a delicious pasta salad.


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Broccoli, Grape, And Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape, And Pasta Salad

Robby Lozano; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

The most popular Southern Living recipe of all time, and with good reason. This simple pasta salad is elevated by grapes, pecans, broccoli, and a tangy dressing.


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Party-Perfect Pasta Salad

Party-Perfect Pasta Salad

Robby Lozano; Food Stylist: Jasmine Smith; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle












The name says it all: this salad is party-ready. Pepperoni takes the spotlight in this ensemble, accompanied by onion, bell pepper, basil, and an out-of-this-world Italian dressing.


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Mac And Cheese Pasta With Ham

Mac And Cheese With Ham

Fred Hardy II; Food Stylist: Jennifer Wendorf; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayliss

Who says pasta at a picnic has to be chilled? Make way on the spread for a macaroni and cheese that’s elevated with chunks of sweet ham.


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Β Spinach-And-Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Spinach-And-Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Greg Dupree, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

When you’re craving something unique for the menu, this recipe will surely delight you. Featuring store-bought rotisserie chicken, spinach, and flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, this pasta dish comes to life with vibrant flavors.


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Penne Pasta with Green Beans and Tomatoes

Penne with Green Beans and Tomatoes

Hector Sanchez

Fresh, flavorful, and 5-star rated, this pasta salad is made for any occasion. Head to the farmer’s market and pick up the ingredients to make this recipe. With juicy tomatoes, crisp green beans, and fragrant herbs, there’s no topping this delightful dish.


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Church Supper Spaghetti

Church Supper Spaghetti

Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ana Kelly; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Mama will want this dish to make an appearance at the picnic party. This comforting casserole, featuring ground beef and spaghetti, is a hearty crowd-pleaser. One reviewer raves, “Very tasty! Made this following directions exactly as written. Husband enjoyed it thoroughly.”


Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Looks like Aunt Rita’s famous Thanksgiving deviled eggs have some summer competition! The creamy, delicious flavor of deviled eggs takes pasta salad to new heights in this dish made with eggs, mayo, mustard, pickle liquid, paprika, and more.


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BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

It might not be a competition, but you’re sure to win the picnic with this crowd-pleaser. Inspired by the classic BLT sandwich, this recipe can be enjoyed as a main or side salad. One reviewer exclaimed, “I made this over the weekend – we loved it! Even my ‘I don’t like mayonnaise’ husband loved it (I didn’t tell him).”

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Baked Ziti Pasta With Summer Vegetables

Baked Ziti With Summer Vegetables

Alison Miksch; Food Stylist: Torie Cox; Prop Stylist: Kay Clarke

We adore enhancing our go-to pasta dishes with summer produce. In this casserole, we’ve combined juicy grape tomatoes, yellow squash, sliced zucchini, and fresh basil for a satisfying seasonal recipe.

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Fried Mac And Cheese Bites

Will Dickey

In the Southern picnic scene, pasta assumes multifaceted roles, including the enticing form of fried balls. Anticipate the need for multiple batches, as these delectable, bite-sized treats, rich in creaminess and flavor, are destined to vanish swiftly, captivating guests of all ages.


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Read the original article on Southern Living.


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