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Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad

The classic Italian caprese trio of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes are the inspiration behind this couldn’t-be-easier cheese tortellini salad.


tortellini pasta salad with tomatoes, and basil and pesto

Caprese Pasta Salad: Your New Favorite Summer Dinner

Juicy, ripe tomatoes and pillowy balls of fresh mozzarella dot this hearty Italian tortellini salad. Tossed with pesto and fresh basil, it’s a summery supper that’s as easy to love as it is to make. Not only can you prep many of the ingredients ahead of time—we’ll get into exactly how to do that later—you can make the entire tortellini salad a day ahead of time, and just let it chill in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. On hot summer days, that’s the best news ever, right? It means that any standing-over-a-hot-stove work can happen in the cool morning hours, and be nothing but a distant memory by mid day. And when dinner time rolls around, all you’ve got to do is reach into the fridge and pull out that gorgeous, pesto-dressed cold Italian tortellini salad, and dig in!

a bowl of chicken, cooked tortellini, basil, mozzarella, pesto olive oil, tomatoes

Everything You’ll Need To Make This Italian Cheese Tortellini Salad Recipe

This pesto tortellini salad is meant to be an Italian-accented celebration of all things summer—perfect tomatoes, bursting with ripeness, fragrant fresh basil, and easy, make-ahead dinners. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Cheese tortellini.
  • Chicken. We usually cook chicken breasts on the weekends to have and use throughout the week (check out our recipe for poached chicken). But, you could also use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken and save yourself some work. Or, if you’d like to keep this pasta salad vegetarian, just leave it out. So many options, and all of them will result in a delicious tortellini pasta salad—promise!
  • Cherry tomatoes.
  • Fresh mozzarella. For this cheese tortellini pasta salad recipe, we love to use small, bite-sized balls of fresh mozzarella like bocconcini or ciliegine. However, if what you’ve got are the larger fresh mozzarella balls, that’ll work, too! Just cut them up into bite-sized pieces.
  • Roasted bell peppers. From a jar—we’re not completely out of our minds.
  • Basil pesto. While homemade is always the best (and it’s really quick to make—here's our recipe for basil pesto!), it’s OK to use store-bought pesto here to save time. Take it easy if you need to!
  • Olive oil
a large mixing bowl with tortellini, pesto, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and shredded chicken
a large mixing bowl with tortellini, pesto, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and shredded chicken

How To Make Tortellini Pasta Salad

If you’re going to make all of the elements of this salad from scratch like we do, here’s how we break up the work.

  • Up to 3 days ahead of time: cook the chicken.
  • Up to 2 days ahead of time: make the basil pesto sauce. OR, make it waaaay ahead of time (as in a few months) and freeze it.
  • Up to 1 day ahead of time: make the cheese tortellini pasta salad!
  • When you’re hungry: eat the cheese tortellini salad!
Pasta salad with tortellini, pesto, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and shredded chicken
tortellini pasta salad with pesto, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and shredded chicken

Tools You’ll Need:

More Pasta Salad Recipes We Love

We can’t get enough of these cold noodle salads in the summertime. Served as a hearty side dish, or even as a main, they hit the spot every time.

tortellini pasta salad with pesto, mozzarella, roasted red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and shredded chicken

Easy Cheesy Tortellini Pasta Salad

So simple, so genius. If you make this tortellini caprese salad let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  5 min
  • Calories: 274


  • 2 (10 ounce) packages cheese tortellini, prepared according to package instructions
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 1 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped into ½ -inch pieces
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, roasted peppers, pesto and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate. Can be prepared up to one day ahead.

  2. When ready to serve, top with fresh basil.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories274
  • Protein14 g
  • Carbohydrates14 g
  • Total Fat17 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol44 mg
  • sodium485 mg
  • Total Sugars1 g

Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Bekah

    I don’t love roasted peppers…any suggestions for a good substitute? Thanks!

    Kalamata olives or artichoke hearts would be yummy swaps! Hope you enjoy Bekah!

  • M

    This was incredibly quick, easy, and delicious. I added less pesto than called for only because it’s what my family prefers but followed the rest of the recipe as listed. This will definitely go into our rotation this summer!

    That is so great to hear, thanks M!

  • Ellen

    What would be the ingredients for salad for 2 people

    We haven't made that small of an amount. You could try just cutting it in half unless you are wanting just a tiny amount as a side then try using 1/4 of the ingredients but it would be very little.

  • Patti

    How many servings are in this recipe?
    The recipe is for Summer Tortellini Salad.

    This serves 10. Hope you enjoy Patti!

  • Josh

    Hey in this article you said “We usually cook chicken breasts on the weekends to have and use throughout the week” I’m just getting into meal prepping and truly wanna make it as easy as possible. Do you have any articles about this? Are you able to make them and they be good for the whole week 5-6 days? If so that’s wonderful. I’d love to be able to do that so I wouldn’t have to worry down the line

    Hi, Josh. Cooked chicken stays good in the fridge for 3-4 days. Hope this helps!

  • Robin

    This whole site has me hooked!!
    Went looking for a chicken breast recipe "fish and chicken are the only meat I like anymore", and it can get boring... very fast. I have six recipes I make over and over again. Don't get me wrong they are delicious but I was stuck!
    I absolutely love your ideas. Everything looks colorful and most send me running to the kitchen to see if I have what I need!
    This particular pasta dish was delicious. I added a teaspoon of white wine vinegar which is very mild and for us amazing.
    I have issues with people who say "I loved it BUT! So ... I'm so sorry but we love vinegar's.
    I've used so many recipes from this site over the last six months and changed absolutely nothing!
    Thank you for making me love cooking again!
    and making me "bored no more"!

    Aw, this is such a wonderful testimonial to hear. We are so happy our recipes are getting you excited about food and cooking again. Thanks Robin!

  • Beverly

    This pasta salad was super good! I was looking for a pasta that would go well with BBQ tri-tip. I found this one and it sounded amazing. I omitted the chicken since I was using it as a side dish. Everyone loved it!
    We served BBQ tri-tip, Summer Tortellini Pasta, roasted asparagus, French baguette and a really good cabernet. I highly recommend it!!
    I will definitely be making the chicken version. It would make a great lunch with friends.

    Thank you so much Beverly, we are so happy you loved it! Sounds like a delicious meal you served!

  • Jenn

    This is so delicious, I'll be taking this to every summer barbecue.

    Yay! Thank you, glad you love it!