Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Salad

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Broccoli cheddar pasta salad with tiny broccoli florets, diced red pepper, red onion, and cheddar cheese in every bite is a perfect combination of flavors and textures. I LOVE the crunch in this salad.

Overhead horizontal shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl

Pasta Salad with Broccoli

Pasta salads are the perfect side dish (or main dish) for just about any occasion, whether it’s a weeknight dinner, a family barbecue, or a summer picnic with friends.

I love everything that broccoli contributes to a pasta salad, not just the flavor, but also that satisfying crunchy texture. I like to barely cook it to lessen that raw crunch just a tiny bit, but still retain plenty of satisfying texture. If you prefer your broccoli completely raw, just toss it in as is. It works both ways.

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Overhead shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a checkered white and gray towel

Those tiny broccoli florets work a bit of magic in retaining just enough dressing to add extra flavor to every bite and distribute it throughout the salad. Keep the florets pretty tiny for this recipe, as you want them to be part of every bite without being the only thing in each bite.

If you’re a fan of pasta salads, and you enjoy broccoli too, then you’re likely to also love this recipe for creamy macaroni salad made with ditalini pasta, broccoli, bell pepper, cucumber, olives, and red onions.

Pasta, chopped bell peppers, broccoli florets, and diced onions, portioned in a large black bowl

Broccoli Pasta Salad Recipe

You’ll need the following ingredients for this recipe:

Salad Ingredients

  • elbow pasta
  • broccoli
  • red bell pepper
  • red onion
  • cheddar cheese, optional
Overhead shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl

Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Salad

While the cheese in this recipe is optional, my husband and children would beg to differ with that. Cheese is never optional in their world.

The salad is delicious with the cheddar cheese added to it, but in my humble opinion, it’s every bit as delicious without any cheese at all. So, make it however sounds best to you.

Pasta, chopped bell peppers, broccoli florets, and diced onions, portioned in a large black bowl; creamy salad dressing is being poured over the bowl

The tangy, barely sweetened creamy dressing for this pasta salad is light enough to coat the pasta and vegetables nicely without weighing it down at all.

Dressing Ingredients

  • mayonnaise
  • white wine vinegar
  • sugar
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
Creamy broccoli pasta salad served in a white bowl

Broccoli Pasta Salad

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks.

Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds, just until it turns bright green, and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.

Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat.

Add the bell pepper and onions and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Add cheddar cheese, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.

Vertical shot of creamy broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a checkered gray and white towel

If you forget to toss the broccoli into the boiling water at the end of the pasta’s cooking time, you can also steam it in the microwave.

Place the broccoli in a glass bowl along with a tablespoon of water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until the broccoli is bright green and barely softened.

Overhead vertical shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a silver spoon and a checkered white and gray towel

Salads with Broccoli

Crisp broccoli florets mingle with savory bites of smoky bacon, tangy cheddar cheese, and zesty red onion in this cheesy bacon and broccoli salad. Each bite offers a delightful balance of textures and a terrific combination of rich, creamy, and savory notes.

Tender noodles and lightly roasted vegetables come alive with a zesty dressing in this roasted vegetable pasta salad. So good, you’ll make it twice.

Fresh broccoli with dried cranberries, bacon, and red onion tossed in a tangy sweet dressing makes for a crave-able cranberry broccoli bacon salad.

Crunchy yet chewy; sweet and smokey, I feel like Goldilocks when I eat this cauliflower broccoli salad because it has just the right amount of everything. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself making and eating this salad on repeat!

Have you tried the Sweet Kale Salad at Costco? It starts with shredded kale, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, and a generous handful of broccoli matchsticks. The greens are topped with sweet cranberries and salty pepitas before being tossed in a tangy sweet poppyseed dressing. It’s irresistible and this copycat recipe nails it.

Creamy, sweet, and tangy poppy seed dressing lightly coats each bite of this Broccoli Slaw Salad. With crisp fresh broccoli and carrots, the bite of red onion, the crunch of pecans, and the sweet chewy fun of dried cranberries, this broccoli salad is a terrific side dish for almost any meal.

Overhead shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a checkered white and gray towel

Broccoli Pasta Salad

Broccoli cheddar pasta salad with tiny broccoli florets, diced red pepper, red onion, and cheddar cheese in every bite is a perfect combination of flavors and textures. I LOVE the crunch in this salad.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

Salad Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 6 cups tiny broccoli florets about 1 large head of broccoli, or 3-4 crowns
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper about 1 large bell pepper
  • cup finely diced red onion about ½ a small onion
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese diced into ½-inch pieces

Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper adjust to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks.
  • Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds, just until it turns bright green, and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.
  • Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat.
  • Add the bell pepper and onions and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Add cheddar cheese, if desired.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.

Notes

If you forget to toss the broccoli in the boiling water at the end of the pasta’s cooking time, you can also steam it in the microwave. Place the broccoli in a glass bowl along with a tablespoon of water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until the broccoli is bright green and barely softened.

Nutrition

Calories: 293kcal · Carbohydrates: 29g · Protein: 9g · Fat: 16g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g · Monounsaturated Fat: 3g · Trans Fat: 0.03g · Cholesterol: 20mg · Sodium: 206mg · Potassium: 345mg · Fiber: 3g · Sugar: 4g · Vitamin A: 1146IU · Vitamin C: 84mg · Calcium: 143mg · Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @bestvegetablerecipes or tag #bestvegetablerecipes!
Overhead vertical shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a checkered white and gray towel
Overhead vertical shot of broccoli pasta salad, served in a white bowl with a checkered white and gray towel

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