Don’t know it ‘till you try it—this dill pickle pasta salad will absolutely surprise you. It’s fresh, flavorful and loaded with pickles, celery and little bites of Cheddar. It’s got just enough going on without being too much. 

Why This Recipe Works

This recipe works because, well, it just does. The harmony of savory, tangy and bright flavors are mouth waters. And each bite is creamy, crunchy and crisp all at once.

We find most pasta salads are a little heavy and gloopy—not this one. We intentionally keep the amount of mayo to a minimum and bulk of the pickle brine, which creates something of a creamy vinaigrette.

Then finally, we drive home the pickle theme with a good dose of fresh dill thrown in, which elevates the dish from potluck to an anytime side dish. 

cooked pasta tossed with a creamy dressing and fresh dill

Ingredients

Dry Pasta

Any small to medium pasta shape will work here. We like Cavatelli, but orzo, shells, or elbows all work well. Feel free to use whole-wheat pasta or any bean/lentil-based pasta. 

Mayonnaise

We love to use olive oil mayonnaise in this pasta salad. Just as delicious as regular mayo with a touch more flavor. Feel free to use whatever mayonnaise you like. To make this recipe vegan, use vegan mayonnaise and skip the Cheddar cheese.

Fresh Pickles + Pickle Brine

It is SO important that you seek out fresh pickles sold in the refrigerated section (we use Gillo’s—they’re amazing). We find fresh pickles have more flavor and a better texture than those sold in the pantry section. If you do end up using pickles sold in the dry-good area, add the brine (aka dill pickle juice) incrementally instead of all at once. It’s likely to be saltier than fresh pickle brines—add it to taste then thin out the dressing with a splash of water if needed.

Celery

We think every great pasta salad needs some fresh veg, and celery is just the thing for this salad. It add crunch and brightness without imparting too much flavor.  

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Aged sharp white Cheddar, such a Cabot, is absolutely delicious in this Dill Pasta Salad. We don’t recommend using regular Cheddar—there’s just something about the sharpness of aged white cheddar that pairs beautifully with the dill. 

Fresh Dill

If there was ever a recipe to really drive home a specific flavor profile, this is it. Load the salad up with even more dill flavor in the form of fresh dill (because if it isn’t fresh we don’t want it). Feel free to add in whatever fresh herbs you like—chives would be dynamite.

Use leftover dill in our Dill Ranch Dressing or Sheet Pan Salmon BLTs. A combo of any fresh herbs can be used in our Creamy Cucumber Salad and Sour Cream Pasta Salad. 

pasta salad in a white bowl with slices of celery and chunks of pickle in it

Substitutions

  • We haven’t tried this, but for a lighter option, feel free to try using whole milk Greek yogurt in place of some or all of the mayonnaise.
  • We prefer fresh dill over dried dill, but in a pinch you can use dried. Start with 2 teaspoons and adjust to taste from there.
  • You can absolutely use baby dills in place of pickle spears, just be sure to season with the brine to taste, as they may be saltier.

Pasta and Potato Salads to Try

Test Kitchen Tips

  • Add the pickle brine incrementally to avoid over-seasoning the pasta salad. Start with ¼ cup then add my tablespoon until you reach your desired saltiness and texture. 
  • This salad can easily be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Stored this way, it should last up to 4 days. 

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Yield 5 cups
Category Salad/Side dish
Cuisine American

Description

A pasta salad that celebrates the tangy and salty flavor of pickles!

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces small-shaped dry pasta, such as cavatelli (2 cups)
  • ½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • ½ cup pickle brine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pickle spears*
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 4 ounces diced aged white Cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Saeson with 2 tablespoons kosher salt, add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise, pickle brine and dill.
  • Drain pasta then immediately add cooked pasta to bowl with dressing; toss to combine then let rest 5 minutes.
  • Add pickles, celery, and Cheddar; toss to combine then season with black pepper and additional dill or brine to taste.

Notes

  • Make it vegan: use vegan mayo and skip the cheese.
  • As the pasta salad cools and sets, the dressing will thicken. Adjust with additional pickle juice to mayo to preference. Same goes with taste. All pickles and brines are different, so season to taste with additional pickle brine and black pepper to taste.
  • The type of pickle you use matters! We recommend using fresh pickles sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Aside from being fresh, they’ve also got a better flavor. If you’re not using fresh pickles, add the pickle brine in 2 tablespoon increments as it will likely be saltier.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/2 cupCalories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 6gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 550mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 1g
Keywords Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, Pickle Pasta Salad
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
pasta salad in a white bowl with slices of celery and chunks of pickle in it

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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