Creamy Cold Tortellini Salad

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Cold Tortellini Salad is perfect for summer barbecues and picnics! Made with tortellini instead of traditional dried pasta, this creamy tortellini pasta salad features rainbow-colored vegetables and a deliciously sweet and tangy dressing!

titled: Creamy Tortellini Pasta Salad


Cold Tortellini Salad

Step aside from traditional pasta salad recipes and give this creamy tortellini salad a try! 

Featuring a sweet and tangy dressing, the texture is very similar to macaroni salad.

However, this rainbow version is full of brightly colored vegetables and is made using cheese-filled tortellini instead of elbow pasta. 

Trust me — make this cold tortellini pasta salad for your next cookout or summer bbq, and everyone will be asking for the recipe!!

ingredients for creamy tortellini salad

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pasta – Instead of plain pasta noodles, grab a package of cheese tortellini! You can use either refrigerated or frozen, depending on what’s available.

    Be sure to follow the package directions for cooking to al dente, then drain and toss in apple cider vinegar.
  • Veggies – Use your favorites to create a rainbow! I like to use red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, celery, and red onion.

    Tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, chopped broccoli florets, etc could be substituted for the coordinating color.
  • Dressing – Whisk up a simple creamy dressing with mayonnaise, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper.
pouring apple cider vinegar over drained and cooked tortellini

Tortellini Salad Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Get the perfect dressing consistency.

The trick is to immediately toss the hot, drained pasta with apple cider vinegar, then let it cook for 10-20 minutes.

You’ll get a beautiful tang in the creamy tortellini pasta salad with no risk of curdling the dressing with the vinegar.

  • And don’t worry — it will thicken!

As you’re tossing everything together, it may seem like there is way too much dressing.

Some of it will be absorbed by the pasta, while the rest will thicken up as it chills.

  • Chill before serving.

This step is essential! All of the different flavors in the cold tortellini salad really meld together the longer it sits. Give it at least an hour in the refrigerator if you can.

  • Add some garnish.

For little pops of extra color, reserve a teaspoon or two of all the vegetables and sprinkle them over the top of the cold tortellini pasta salad before serving.

pouring creamy dressing over cooked tortellini

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need

  • Mixing bowls –  I love these bowls! They even have lids so you can easily cover the tortellini salad while it’s chilling!
  • KnifeThe pasta is the only thing that has to be cooked for this cold tortellini salad recipe — after that, it’s all chopping.

    A good knife makes getting perfectly diced vegetables that much easier. 
  • ColanderThis kitchen essential makes life so much easier! You can use it to drain pasta or wash veggies and fruit.
rainbow of chopped veggies over tortellini and dressing in bowl

Cold Tortellini Pasta Salad FAQ

Can you make creamy tortellini salad ahead of time?

Yes and no. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the pasta will absorb the dressing the longer it sits, and the veggies will continue to soften.For guests, I recommend prepping everything and storing separately in the refrigerator no more than a day in advance. Then, toss everything together about an hour before serving.If you just want to meal prep, go ahead and make this cold tortellini salad recipe ahead of time. It’s up to you whether to add the dressing all at once, or pour some on each serving just before you dig in.

How long does tortellini salad last in the fridge?

Creamy tortellini salad will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Keep leftovers in an airtight container and mix in a little extra mayo before serving if it seems a bit dry.

stirring together tortellini and veggies with dressing

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overhead: rainbow tortellini salad on plate

Creamy Cold Tortellini Salad (Pasta Salad Recipe)

Donna Elick
Cold Tortellini Salad is perfect for cookouts and potlucks. This creamy tortellini pasta salad recipe features a rainbow of fresh veggies!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Method Mixed, Stovetop
Servings 8


  • 19 ounce package fresh cheese filled tortellini pasta
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar may be substituted
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 – 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 – 1 cup diced red onion


  • Boil tortellini according to package directions and drain well in a colander.  Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl and toss with apple cider vinegar.  Let cool 10-20 minutes.
  • While pasta is cooling, in another mixing bowl, add mayo, milk, sugar, salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine.
  • Pour dressing over tortellini pasta and toss gently to combine.  Stir in all but 1 tsp EACH of all the vegetables (red pepper, carrots, yellow pepper, celery and red onion).
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.
  • Before serving, stir salad and sprinkle with remaining vegetables.

Donna’s Notes

Can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.  After chilling for long periods of time, if pasta seems dry, stir in a splash or two of milk and/or a tablespoon of mayo.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 735cal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 1445mg | Sugar: 11g | Fiber: 6g | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): creamy tortellini pasta salad

Originally published April 2018, updated and republished June 2023

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