German Pasta Salad (Nudelsalat)

Here’s A Colorful German Pasta Salad That’s Super Easy To Make!

Searching for an easy and delicious German pasta salad recipe? Our German pasta salad – known as Nudelsalat, in German – is colorful, flavorful, and makes a great cold side dish.

Made from simple ingredients like short pasta (bowtie in our case), peppers, ham, and pickles, this German noodle salad is tossed in a light but creamy dressing.

bowl of colorful pasta salad on wooden board with blue towel behind
Our German pasta salad doesn’t hide any of its ingredients!

Recipe Tips + Substitutions

This is a recipe that Lisa grew up making. She usually makes this German pasta salad recipe with black forest ham since this is a ham that is widely available in Germany.

However, you can also use another type of ham if you want. Some people even like to use Mortadella which would also work well.

Another popular addition to pasta salad in Germany is peas. Lisa never ate this kind of salad with peas so we didn’t include them in this recipe but you can definitely add them in!

As for pasta, we often make it with bowtie pasta but any short pasta will work fine in this pasta salad. Besides farfalle (bowtie pasta), popular options are fusilli or elbow/macaroni noodles.

If you want a stronger flavor, you can add a small red or yellow onion to this salad. However, this is completely option and not something that we always add when making this salad. If you add one, just make sure to chop it very fine to not be overbearing.

two bowls of german pasta salad on blue and white cloth
One bowl for serving German pasta salad and one bowl for eating!

How to Make German Pasta Salad – Step by Step Instructions

If you want to make this German pasta salad, you can check out the recipe card with the full list of ingredients and measurements at the bottom of this post.

And if you’d like to see the step-by-step instructions, you can follow the process photos below.

bowtie pasta cooked in metal strainer in sink
Shock the pasta.

First, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Once cooked, shock the pasta under cold water and place it in a large bowl.

As mentioned, you can use any short pasta you have on hand. We just like using bowtie pasta for the nice look.

chopped red and orange peppers on white cutting board
Cut the tomatoes and bell peppers.

Next – or while your pasta is cooking – wash the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cut everything into small cubes.

chopped pickles and ham on white cutting board
Cut the pickles and ham.

Also, cut the black forest ham and the baby dill pickles into small pieces.

We use black forest ham since it is widely available in Germany. However, as mentioned you can also use another type of ham or Mortadella sausage, for example.

chopped vegetables and pasta in metal bowl for pasta salad
Add the vegetables to the large bowl.

Add the chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, baby dill pickles, ham, and onion (if applicable) to the bowl with the pasta.

ingredients for creamy dressing in clear bowl on counter
Make the dressing.

Prepare your dressing in a separate small bowl. For that, add the pickle juice, mayo, yogurt, salt, and pepper.

Whisk with a small spoon until the dressing is uniform in color.

pasta salad ingredients in bowl ready to be mixed
Pour the dressing over the salad.

Now pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

mixed german pasta salad in metallic bowl on counter
Try the pasta salad and add more spices as needed.

Taste the pasta salad and add more salt, pepper, mayo or yogurt to taste.

Place a lid or some cling film on top of the bowl with the pasta salad and place it in the fridge for around one hour.

This will allow the flavors to mingle and make the salad taste so much better (in our opinion).

german pasta salad with bowties and peppers in white bowl on wood
Our German pasta salad turned out great!

Storage Tips

Because of the creamy consistency, this pasta salad needs to be refrigerated. Place leftovers in a container with a lid and store them in the fridge for up to three days.

Since there aren’t any ingredients that get overly mushy (assuming you used fresh tomatoes), this salad usually still tastes quite fresh after a day or two.

Related Recipes

Looking for more delicious German salads to serve up? From hot to cold, creamy to vinegary, try some of these recipes:

bowl of colorful pasta salad on wooden board with blue towel behind

German Pasta Salad

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This German Pasta Salad is the perfect side dish. Made from short pasta, this delicious cold pasta salad is loaded with sliced ham, peppers, tomato, and chopped pickles. It's always a colorful addition to the table!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces short pasta (e.g. macaroni, farfalle, fusilli)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 7 ounces black forest ham
  • 1 small red onion (optional)
  • 5 baby dill pickles
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 5 tablespoons mayo (more to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Then shock them under cold water and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Wash the bell peppers and tomatoes. Cut them into small cubes.
  3. Also, cut the black forest ham as well as the baby dill pickles into small pieces.
  4. If you want a little bit of a stronger flavor in your pasta salad, you can add a small red onion, finely chopped (completely optional).
  5. Add all chopped vegetables and the onion (optional) to the bowl with the pasta.
  6. In a separate small bowl, add the pickle juice, mayo, yogurt, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until well combined.
  7. Taste the pasta salad and add more spices, mayo, or yogurt to suit your taste.
  8. We would recommend refrigerating the pasta salad for around one hour before consumption to allow the flavors to mingle.

Notes

  • Many Germans like to add peas to their pasta salad. Since we're not huge fans of peas in our pasta salad we've never added them but we wanted to let you know that it is definitely a popular option!
  • Since this pasta salad contains mayo, don't let it sit out in hot temperatures for a long time. This way you can store leftovers in a container with a lid in the fridge for 2-3 days. If the salad has been sitting out in the heat for a long time, we wouldn't recommend keeping leftovers.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 275Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 860mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice. The exact values can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

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