Pesto Pasta Salad: Hot or Cold?

The answer to the question of whether to add pesto to hot or cold pasta is both! Pesto can be added to either hot or cold pasta, and both methods have their own advantages.

Adding pesto to hot pasta allows the pesto to melt and coat the pasta evenly. This can create a more flavorful and creamy pasta salad. Additionally, the heat of the pasta can help to release the flavors of the pesto.

Adding pesto to cold pasta is a quicker and easier method. It also allows the pesto to retain its bright green color and fresh flavor. Additionally, cold pasta salads are often more refreshing and lighter, making them a good option for summer meals.

Tips for adding pesto to pasta:

  • If you are adding pesto to hot pasta, it is helpful to reserve ¼ to ½ cup of the pasta water. Add some of this water to the pasta and pesto mixture as you’re stirring everything together. This will help to create a smoother and more flavorful sauce.
  • If you are adding pesto to cold pasta, it is important to make sure that the pasta is completely cooled before adding the pesto. Otherwise, the pesto will melt and become oily.
  • Regardless of whether you are adding pesto to hot or cold pasta, it is important to taste the pasta salad before serving and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Here are some additional tips for making pesto pasta salad:

  • Use high-quality ingredients. The flavor of the pesto pasta salad will be only as good as the ingredients you use.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of pesto. There are many different types of pesto available, so experiment to find one that you like.
  • Add other ingredients to your pasta salad. Some good options include cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and pine nuts.
  • Serve the pasta salad chilled or at room temperature.

No matter how you choose to make it, pesto pasta salad is a delicious and easy dish that is perfect for any occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of pasta should I use for pesto pasta salad?

A: Any type of pasta will work for pesto pasta salad, but short shapes like penne, fusilli, or rotini are a good option.

Q: Can I make pesto pasta salad ahead of time?

A: Yes, pesto pasta salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Q: Can I freeze pesto pasta salad?

A: It is not recommended to freeze pesto pasta salad. The pasta will become mushy when thawed.

Q: What can I serve with pesto pasta salad?

A: Pesto pasta salad can be served as a main dish or a side dish. It is a good option for picnics, potlucks, and barbecues.

Q: What are some variations of pesto pasta salad?

A: There are many different variations of pesto pasta salad. Some popular variations include adding grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, or sun-dried tomatoes.


Pesto pasta salad is a delicious and easy dish that can be made with hot or cold pasta. It is a versatile dish that can be served as a main dish or a side dish. With a few simple tips, you can make a delicious and flavorful pesto pasta salad that everyone will enjoy.

How I make pesto pasta salad

Simple – but I do have a couple of tips!

  • Cook the pasta beyond al dente so it’s quite soft. Why? Because pasta firms up when it cools. To the point of hard when refrigerated. To avoid this, cook the pasta a little bit longer so that it cooks more slowly and has the ideal texture when cooled.
  • Tossing order – Toss pasta, pesto and mayonnaise only first. Then the bocconcini and tomato. Finally, leafy greens: we can’t have leafy greens hogging the pesto since it tends to cling to them!

All you had to do was use a handheld stick to blitz everything together until the pesto was very smooth. Better results and less cleanup than utilizing a food processor Why? Read on!.

do you put pesto on hot or cold pasta

Because you can make the pesto smoother, which is what I like for pasta salads, I like to use a handheld stick. Better coverage on the pasta. I enjoy chunky pesto for applications where a little texture is nice, like as a dip or to drizzle over crostini.

A bonus is that cleaning handheld sticks is much simpler than cleaning a food processor (although the recipe includes instructions on how to use one if necessary).

Storing leftover pesto pasta salad

Even though pesto pasta salads are at their most vibrant green color within a few hours of preparation, they will keep their green color for two days in the refrigerator.

The other great thing about this pesto pasta salad is that it keeps its juicy texture even the next day and the day after that. Because the pasta absorbs the dressing, cold pasta salads—aside from those loaded with mayo—tend to get dry in the refrigerator over night.

However, in this case, the generous amount of pesto combined with the mere two tablespoons of mayonnaise keeps the pasta salad from drying out.

Bring it along for picnics, to social gatherings as an accompaniment, or for lunch at work. Such a great summer staple! – Nagi x.

How to use Store-bought Pesto Sauce at its Best


Can you add pesto to warm pasta?

Pesto is a cold prepared condiment that should not be heated, let alone reheated. This is one of the reasons you use mortar and pestle to prepare it instead of blender.

Should pesto be served hot or cold?

PESTO SHOULD NEVER BE “COOKED”. If you cook Pesto Sauce, you change the make up of the fresh basil and cause it to turn darker in color. It is best to warm it up and use it at room temperature. If it needs to be thinned out, you can do so by adding a little water, chicken stock, cream or white wine.

Can you mix pasta & pesto over heat?

Don’t mix the pasta and pesto over heat: The basil pesto doesn’t like any additional heat (other than from the warm pasta), or it can turn dark green/black and loose flavor. You should combine the pasta and pesto in a bowl or cold pot – off heat.

Is pesto high in carbohydrates?

Pesto sauce is rich in fiber mainly from basil and excellent quality fats from extra virgin olive oil. This when made at home with the traditional recipe. For store-bought pesto sauce, check the label.

Does pesto pasta taste good hot or cold?

Pesto pasta is easy to make and full of flavor. It tastes good hot or cold! This top-rated pesto pasta recipe, which comes together in just 15 minutes, is the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner. You’ll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the recipe below, but let’s go over the basics:

Should pesto be heated or cold?

You can serve this pasta warm or cold! To serve it cold just store it in the refrigerator until it cools! Should pesto be heated? You should not heat the pesto sauce, because it will change the color, taste and texture of the fresh basil. This is why I recommend keeping the pasta warm.

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