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Italian Grinder Pasta Salad

This Italian grinder pasta salad is perfect for meat lovers! It’s loaded with Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese, pepperoncini peppers, tomatoes, and red onions. And tossed in a quick and easy creamy Italian submarine dressing.  It’s like your favorite Italian sub in pasta salad form.

Italian sub pasta salad with salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncini peppers.

This is like your favorite meat-loaded Italian sub in pasta salad form. Oh. So. Good! And, all the ingredients are easy to find throughout the year.

It’s also very customizable! Make it how you like your Italian sub. You can make it creamier by adding a little more mayo. Or you can make it less meaty and add more veggies. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Add roasted red peppers… You get the picture. By the way, if you’re looking for a pasta salad that’s more vegetable oriented, try summer veggie pasta salad or tortellini caprese salad!

This makes a large amount of pasta salad! You’ll love that it’s enough to bring to a potluck or make for a party. It holds up well to refrigeration, and its flavor improves after a day. So, make it for meal prep and enjoy it for lunches, sides, or a dinner entree throughout the week. If you don’t want to make a big batch, halve the recipe.


Genoa salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, red onions, pepperoncini peppers, provolone cheese, rotini pasta, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, mayonnaise, garlic, and Italian herbs and spices.

Cook dried rotini to form the base of the salad. Its spiral shape and small size make it perfect for mixing with all the delicious toppings.

Plenty of Genoa salami and pepperoni provide a meaty layer to this pasta salad. They make it feel like biting into your favorite Italian sub or grinder sandwich. You can use whatever is available at your local grocery store. The easiest Genoa salami to find is pre-sliced in the deli aisle. 

I use deli-style pre-sliced provolone cheese and chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Cherry or grape tomatoes are essential for bringing in the tomato component of a grinder. They’re firm and hold up well to the dressing and refrigeration. Plus, you can find good quality ones year-round!

Sliced pepperoncini peppers are spicy, crunchy, and tangy. You can substitute pickled banana peppers if you want.

Diced red onion packs a punch. It adds another element of crunch and a spicy, bold flavor.

Easy homemade sub-dressing completes this tasty pasta salad. Make a quick Italian submarine dressing with mayo to make it creamy. Shake up red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Add a little mayonnaise and some pepperoncini brine for a little tangy kick.

Substitutions and Variations

There are so many ways to customize this pasta salad! It’s perfect, and you can tweak the ingredients just like ordering a sub!

Optional add-ins, toppings, and substitutions

  • Calabrian chili paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Soppressata, Capocollo, or cappy-style ham if you can find it
  • Substitute mozzarella pearls for the provolone

What about the lettuce? 

Try it over chopped or shredded iceberg lettuce to complete that authentic Italian sub feel. The lettuce will get limp and soggy if you mix it with the salad. I recommend serving it separately or skipping it altogether. If you make this for a potluck, you can bring the lettuce in a separate bowl and label it with a little sign.

How to Make Grinder Pasta Salad

Genoa salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, red onions, pepperoncini peppers, and provolone cheese.

First, cook the pasta to al dente and prepare the ingredients. When the pasta is done, drain it into a colander and rinse it with cold running water until it’s cool.

Dump the meat, cheese, and veggies into a very large mixing bowl. Then add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar. Close the lid and shake it to form a smooth and creamy dressing.

Pour all of the dressing over the meat, cheese, and veggies and toss it to combine. Now, all the drained and cooled pasta and toss again.

Refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

Italian sub pasta salad with salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncini peppers.


Store this grinder pasta salad in the fridge in a covered container. It will keep for about 5 days.

How to Serve it

Serve this cold pasta salad on a hot summer day for an easy yet satisfying dinner. It’s satisfying in the summer, but I love that you can make it any time. Its ingredients are simple and easy to find during any season. This grinder pasta salad is easy, versatile, and crowd-pleasing!

  • You can half the recipe if you want a small batch. You can double it to feed a big crowd.
  • Make it ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat it. It’s actually better the next day! 
  • That makes it a perfect option for meal-prepping lunches and dinners.
  • It’s also a great take-along dish for potlucks, church dinners, BBQs, and parties.
  • Serve it on the Fourth of July, on Memorial Day, or take it tailgating.
Italian sub pasta salad with salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncini peppers.

More Deli-Style Salad Recipes

A bite of Italian grinder pasta salad on a fork.

Did you try any of the add-ins to make this just like you’re favorite sandwich? Let me know in the comments!


Italian Sub Pasta Salad

Italian sub pasta salad with salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncini peppers.

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

This meaty Italian pasta salad has all the flavors of an Italian grinder in delicious pasta salad form.

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Plus 2 hours to chill:
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: about 14 cups 1x
  • Category: Deli Salad
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Italian


Units Scale
  • 1 pound of dried rotini pasta
  • Salt for cooking the pasta
  • 1 pound Genoa salami, chopped
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced provolone cheese, chopped
  • 1pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers


  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pepperoncini brine (the liquid from the jar)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise


  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water to al dente. Use the package directions to determine the appropriate cooking time. Drain the rotini into a colander and rinse it with cold running water until cool.
  2. Add the salami, pepperoni, cheese, tomatoes, peppers, and onions to a very large mixing bowl. 
  3. Add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar. Tightly close the lid and shake the jar until it forms a smooth and creamy dressing. 
  4. Pour the dressing over the meat, cheese, and veggies and toss to combine. Then, add the cooled rotini and toss until everything is thoroughly mixed.


  • Serving Size: about 1 cup
  • Calories: 492
  • Sugar: 2.9 g
  • Sodium: 1241.9 mg
  • Fat: 33.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28.2 g
  • Fiber: 1.9 g
  • Protein: 18.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 53.3 mg

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One Comment

  1. I had a jar of Calabrian chili paste in my fridge that I needed to use so I added a couple tablespoons of that. It was so good! My husband and I took this salad to work all week.

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