Broccoli Pasta Salad

Broccoli pasta salad has delicious Thai flavors and is topped with crunchy peanuts for a crowd pleasing party side dish. Ingredients like soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes turn your Rotini pasta into an Asian flavor explosion. Add this to your list of summer side dish recipes for potluck parties, picnics, and weeknight dinners.

large white bowl with broccoli and pasta salad, large serving spoon, and surrounded by plates and garnish bowls.

‘Tis the season for potluck parties and backyard bbq’s, and this pasta salad with vegetables should be at the top of your list of recipes.

It’s a tried and true recipe you’ll want to add to your summer theme parties, family reunions, or backyard graduation celebrations. And, it travels well for a tailgate picnic too!

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s one of the best party side dishes when you’re heading outside because there’s no mayonnaise or other creamy base that you might worry about in the heat.
  • I use tricolor rotini for for it’s chunky bite, but you can also substitute elbow or penne pasta if you want.
  • The broccoli gets a quick cook technique so it’s softened but still firm.
  • This pasta salad has soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes that give it an Asian flavor profile that everyone loves.

Vegetarian Pasta Salad

This recipe is a fabulous addition to any buffet table when you bring a dish to a meal. And it’s a delicious vegetarian and vegan option that’s filling and full of flavor and texture.

Serve it cold or at room temperature for a couple of hours.

PARTY TIP: keep any salad chilled by filling a large bowl with ice, and then nestling a smaller bowl filled with the salad, inside the bigger bowl. The ice will surround the smaller bowl and keep it cool.

close up of broccoli and pasta salad with peanuts, scallions and red pepper flakes.


  • Pasta. Use tricolor Rotini pasta or whole wheat fusilli (corkscrew pasta), penne, or elbow macaroni. You want any variety that’s short and bulky to you get that toothy bite.
  • Fresh broccoli florets. You can buy bags of fresh pre-cut broccoli florets to save time, or cut them off of 2 head of broccoli.
  • Fresh scallions. These give you yummy onion flavor without being overpowering.
  • Peanuts. You can use dry roasted peanuts or lightly salted peanuts to top the salad with.


These are traditional ingredients for the Asian-style dressing.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red-pepper flakes
  • Rice vinegar
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Soy sauce

Can you use frozen broccoli in pasta salad?

While I don’t recommend using frozen broccoli for this recipe, you could use it in a pinch. But you should be very specific and use the frozen broccoli florets microwave steam bags, and cook it for the shortest time listed.

The frozen version will not give you the same texture as using fresh. It will be softer than quick cooking your own. For best results you want the texture and bite of fresh broccoli that has been lightly boiled or steamed, for this recipe. 

large white bowl with broccoli and pasta salad, large serving spoon, with plates and peanuts in background.

How to Make It

This is an easy recipe to make ahead and keep chilled until ready to take or serve to a dinner party.

  1. Cook pasta until it’s al dente, then drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets into bite-size pieces and add to boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes – DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove the broccoli into a colander to drain. 
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  4. Add cooled pasta, broccoli, scallions, and peanuts and toss to combine.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

More Pasta Salads

Try these other delicious tried and true recipes for your next dinner party or luncheon.

I just know you’re going to love this broccoli pasta salad as much as we do. Add it to your menu when entertaining!

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Broccoli Salad with Pasta

Broccoli Salad with Pasta

Yield: about 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A blend of Asian flavors mixed over Rotini pasta and crisp broccoli make this side dish a crowd pleaser for a party crowd.


  • 10 ounces tricolor rotini pasta
  • 2 heads (about 2 pounds) fresh broccoli
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced crosswise; to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets into bite-size pieces. 
  3. Fill a large sauce pan with water about 3/4 full. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add florets to boiling water, uncovered, and cook for 2 minutes - DO NOT OVERCOOK. Promptly remove broccoli into a colander to drain. 
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, pepper flakes, vinegar, peanut butter, and soy sauce until smooth.
  6. Add cooled pasta and broccoli to dressing mixture and combine well.
  7. Top with scallions and peanuts and toss to combine.
  8. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

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  1. This recipe is similar to one I used to make that actually called for a bottled ginger dressing as well as peanut butter and I think soba noodles. I would also occasionally add leftover chicken to it. It was a family favorite but I lost the recipe so I plan to give yours a try! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh no, Judy, don’t you just hate when a favorite recipe goes missing! I hope you like this one!

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