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Classic German Pasta Salad (Nudelsalat)

This classic German Pasta Salad, known as Nudelsalat, is a popular side dish in Germany for summer BBQs, picnics, and parties. Made with pantry staples, this budget-friendly salad can be quickly prepared and customized to suit your taste, dietary needs, or ingredients on hand. It’s meal prep friendly as preparing it in advance allows the flavors to intensify.

Creamy pasta salad in a large glass bowl.
Table of contents

Why you’ll love my German pasta salad recipe

Growing up in Germany, this classic pasta salad was regularly served at family gatherings and BBQ parties. This is why you’ll it too:

Meal-prep friendly: You can make this pasta salad well in advance as the pasta absorbs the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients. Perfect for parties!

Budget-friendly: Simple ingredients make this salad a budget-friendly dish.

Filling side: If you’re hosting a party, this cold pasta salad is the perfect side dish because it’s as filling as it is delicious.


Ingredient image, flatlay, of a pasta salad.
  • Pasta – Fusilli, farfalle, penne, macaroni pasta all work well for this recipe. You can also opt for a wholegrain pasta or gluten-free version.
  • Meat – Luncheon, pre-cooked ham, or sausages such as Frankfurters can be used for this recipe. Leberkäse is also a popular option in southern German states including Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Make sure any meat is fully cooked and cooled before using it.
  • Vegetables – Red bell peppers, corn, and peas are traditionally used in Nudelsalat. You can also add finely diced red onions, green onions, cucumber, or grated carrots.
  • Pickles – Pickled gherkins and the pickle juice add texture and a tangy, slightly sour flavor to this salad which works well with the rich dressing.
  • Mayonnaise – Full-fat or light mayonnaise both work well for this recipe. To make a pasta salad without mayonnaise, you can substitute this portion with sour cream but you’ll need to add extra seasoning.
  • Greek yogurt – Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt gives the dressing extra freshness. You can also use a lower-fat version.
  • Herbs – Fresh chives or parsley are great options to add extra freshness to this pasta salad.
  • Salt & pepper – A simple seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper rounds out the flavors.


Gluten-free: Simply opt for gluten-free pasta and make sure the cooked meat doesn’t have added gluten.

Vegetarian: Omit the meat and consider replacing this portion with vegetables or boiled eggs for some extra protein.

Add spice: Sweet or smoked paprika or chili flakes can add some heat and depth to the pasta salad.

Say cheese: Emmental cheese is commonly used in German pasta salads but diced gouda and edam work well as well.

Watch me make this Nudelsalat


Can I cook pasta ahead of time?

Yes, you can cook the pasta up to 48 hours before you plan to serve it.

How do you store pasta salad?

To store pasta salad, place it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. Make sure to consume the salad within three to five days of preparing it. I do not recommend freezing it.

For more easy summer salads, make sure to check out the following recipes:

If you loved this German Pasta Salad Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating below. Thank you!

Creamy pasta salad in a large glass bowl.

Classic German Pasta Salad (Nudelsalat)

Caro Jensen
This classic German pasta salad, known as Nudelsalat in German, is a popular side in Germany for summer BBQs, picnics, and parties.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine German
Servings 8 servings
Calories 336 kcal


  • 250 g dry pasta fusilli, farfalle, or penne
  • 1/2 cup corn defrosted
  • 1/2 cup peas defrosted
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup pickled gherkins chopped
  • 1 cup cooked sausage or ham cubed, e.g. Frankfurters


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp juice from pickled gherkins
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper


  • Cook the 250 g dry pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
    250 g dry pasta
  • Let the frozen 1/2 cup corn and 1/2 cup peas defrost at room temperature. Alternatively, you can add them to the pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking.
    1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup peas
  • In a large bowl, combine the finely chopped 1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1/4 cup pickled gherkins, and 1 cup cooked sausage or ham.
    1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1/4 cup pickled gherkins, 1 cup cooked sausage or ham
  • Add the cooked and cooled pasta to the large mixing bowl with the chopped vegetables and cooked meat.
  • In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp juice from pickled gherkins, and 2 tbsp fresh chives until well combined. Season to taste with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper.
    1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp juice from pickled gherkins, 2 tbsp fresh chives, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pour the dressing mixture over the cooked pasta and vegetables, and toss gently to coat everything evenly. Cover and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and develop.
  • Just before serving, give the pasta salad a final toss. Taste and adjust seasoning with pickle juice, salt, and pepper if needed and garnish it with chopped fresh parsley or chives. Serve and enjoy your tasty German-style pasta salad as a side dish or a light meal.



Cold rinse: Italians will be shocked, but for this recipe, you have to Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. It will also ensure that the pasta won’t stick together.
Chill the salad: Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to mingle.
Don’t over-season: The meat, mayonnaise, and pickles are all pre-seasoned. Be conservative with the seasoning to start with and season to taste after you have chilled the pasta salad.


Calories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 10gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 531mgPotassium: 195mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 438IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg
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