Refreshing, creamy, and delicious! This creamy Cucumber Pasta Salad is my favorite unique summertime side. This version will knock your socks off with big, fresh dill and lemon flavor with all the reminiscence of classic pasta salad. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser no matter your audience.
My food obsession is and always will be pasta. I thought it was a crime that there had been no pasta salad recipes yet on Mess in the Kitchen! With a craving for a fresh, creamy cucumber salad packed with fresh dill, the two worlds collided to create, possibly, my favorite pasta salad to date.
These flavors are absolutely perfect together and this pasta salad couldn’t have been easier to throw together. The dressing is balanced so beautifully and it really does shine with all that fresh dill. Keep it simple and, most importantly, delicious!
- Pasta – I couldn’t resist the corkscrew-shaped cavatappi that I found at the store! Other small shapes such as penne, rotini, fusilli, farfalle, shells, macaroni, orzo; you get the point!
- Cucumber – I used mini cucumbers. The slices were the perfect size for this salad! You can also use an English cucumber. I suggest halving the slices so they aren’t too big in the salad. You can scoop out the seeds if you prefer.
- Onion – White or yellow onion will work best as they’re a bit milder. You can use red onion if you like it strong!
- Sour cream – Greek yogurt would be great instead.
- Mayonnaise – You can get rid of the mayo and use more sour cream instead. On the other hand, if you like a more mayo-forward flavor you can use more mayo and less sour cream.
- Dill – Fresh, always! Use as much or little as you like.
- Lemon juice – Lemon plus dill is a match made in heaven for me. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use some regular white vinegar instead.
- Sugar – Everyone has a different preference for the balance of their pasta salad. You can use more sugar, less, or use none at all. I find a bit of sugar to balance out the acidity of the sour cream and lemon juice brings everything together.
- Garlic powder – Like everything else in this easy recipe, you can adjust the amount of garlic powder to suit your preference. I like to use garlic powder over fresh garlic to keep the flavor mild.
- Salt & pepper – Season to taste. I highly recommend using freshly cracked pepper!
How to make cucumber pasta salad
- Pasta & dressing: Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Once you drain the pasta, rinse it thoroughly with cold water until it has completely cooled. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
- Finish: Add the pasta, cucumber, onion, and prepared dressing to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine everything completely.
Pasta salad is, typically, very forgiving. You can use any type of small shape you like best! I found the cavatappi was great for holding onto the dressing. Rotini or fusilli are other favorites of mine. Macaroni, orzo, penne, farfalle, and shells are all great. Avoid long shapes such as spaghetti, linguini, and fettuccini.
I know this recipe will be a favorite for summertime BBQs and potlucks! A good rule to live by for any creamy salad is no longer than 2 hours before popping it back into the fridge. Try to keep the salad out of the direct sun so it doesn’t dry out and get warm.
When you’re making pasta salad, ALWAYS rinse after it has cooked! If you don’t rinse it well under cold, running water, it will all stick together and be a pain to mix with the rest of the ingredients. You also don’t want the pasta to be hot, anyways, so this is a great way to cool it down instantly to avoid waiting around.
Tips for making perfect pasta salad
- Salt the pasta cooking water well. No bland pasta salad for you!
- Make sure to cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. It will slightly absorb some of the dressing as it sits.
- Rinse your pasta well with cold water after you drain it! I can’t stress enough how helpful this step is for pasta salad.
- This salad gets better and better as the flavors sit together! If you can, make it an hour or two before serving. You can even whip it up a day ahead.
- Taste the dressing and adjust to your own preference. The dressing has three basic flavors to balance: sweet, salt, and acid (lemon juice). Adjust these three as you see fit to make your perfect dressing.
- If you use a regular-sized English cucumber, I suggest halving it before slicing. You can also scoop the seeds out if you aren’t a fan.
How to store leftover cucumber pasta salad
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Make ahead: This recipe is perfect for making the day before you plan on serving it. The flavors get better and better as everything gets to hang out. Toss everything, including the dressing, together and store in an airtight container. Give the salad a toss before serving to rehydrate the top. If it seems like the pasta has absorbed some dressing, you can toss a tbsp or two of extra sour cream or mayo to make it creamy again
Did you love this recipe? Give these fresh salads a try:
Cucumber Pasta Salad
- 8 oz pasta* short shape, I used cavatappi
- 3-4 mini cucumbers siced, or 1 English cucumber**
- 1/2 onion white or yellow, sliced
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 3/4 tsp sugar or to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste, freshly cracked
- Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions in salted water. Once you drain the pasta, rinse it thoroughly with cold water until it has completely cooled. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
- Add the pasta, cucumber, onion, and prepared dressing to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine everything completely.