French Onion Dip Pasta Salad

published May 22, 2024
summer
French Onion Dip Pasta Salad Recipe
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overhead shot of a platter of french onion pasta salad, with a scoop taken from the platter.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Pasta salad is one of those dishes that just screams “summer” to me. It’s a filling side with so many different variations that I never get bored. This version combines delicious pasta salad with one of my favorite dips, French onion. While I love a rich, homemade onion dip (and I think I make the best one), this recipe utilizes one of my favorite pantry shortcuts: onion soup mix.

I love how much flavor payoff you get from one little packet! I mix it with mostly Greek yogurt and just a little mayo for the perfect tangy-creamy base. My secret ingredient is a little bit of brown sugar. The molasses flavor adds just the right amount of extra depth (it’s never going to match the flavor of slow-caramelized onions, but it’s close!).

This is such an easy riff on the classic pasta salad I know and love. I just know I’m going to be enjoying it at picnics and cookouts all summer long.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s a fun spin on a classic! My recipe combines crowd-pleasing pasta salad with creamy, flavor-packed instant French onion dip.
  • It’s easy-peasy. Thaw frozen peas instantly in a colander by draining the cooked pasta directly over them.

Key Ingredients in French Onion Dip Pasta Salad

  • Pasta. Use a short pasta shape like farfalle or rotini for the right sauce and vegetable distribution.
  • Onion soup mix. The dehydrated onions will soften when mixed with the yogurt and mayo, but the flavor still packs a punch.
  • Vegetables. Red onion, celery, cherry tomatoes, and thawed frozen peas add flavor and texture variety.
  • Brown sugar. A little molasses-flavored brown sugar adds extra depth to the onion soup mix to mimic homemade caramelized onions.
  • Greek yogurt. Using mostly Greek yogurt (with a little mayo) for the sauce keeps things light and tangy.
  • Chives. A pop of green on top gives it a nice finishing touch and an extra burst of flavor.

How to Make French Onion Dip Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the pasta. Cook any short pasta shape you like (I think farfalle, rotini, and campanelle are great here) until al dente.
  2. Make the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, combine lemon juice, Greek yogurt, mayo, onion soup mix, and a little brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Prep the vegetables. Chop red onion, celery, and cherry tomatoes. Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it directly over frozen peas and rinse with cold water until the pasta is cooled.
  4. Assemble the pasta salad. Toss the pasta and all of the vegetables in the French onion dip sauce to coat, then top with chopped chives.

Helpful Swaps 

  • Add grilled chicken or another protein to make the pasta salad more of a complete meal.
  • Stir in a couple spoonfuls of store-bought or homemade chili crisp for a little heat.
  • Use up leftover homemade French onion dip (about 1 cup) instead of the instant mix.
  • Swap in any vegetables you have in the crisper. Bell peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini are all good options.

French Onion Dip Pasta Salad Recipe

What can’t that soup packet do?

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Makes 12 cups

Serves 6 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    dried farfalle, rotini, or campanelle pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups

    frozen peas

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 3/4 cup

    full-fat plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/4 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1 (1-ounce) envelope

    onion soup mix, such as Lipton’s

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    packed dark or light brown sugar

  • 1

    small red onion

  • 2

    large celery stalks

  • 1 pint

    cherry or grape tomatoes

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/2 small bunch

    fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried farfalle pasta and cook according to package directions until just tender, 10 to 13 minutes. Place 1 1/2 cups frozen peas in a colander and set in the sink. Meanwhile, make the dressing and prepare the remaining ingredients.

  2. Juice 1 medium lemon into a large bowl until you have 2 tablespoons. Add 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 (1-ounce) envelope onion soup mix, and 3/4 teaspoon packed light or dark brown sugar. Stir to combine.

  3. Prepare the following, adding each to the dressing as it is completed: Dice 1 small red onion until you have 1/2 cup; dice 2 large celery stalks (about 1 cup); halve 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (quarter if large); stir to combine.

  4. When the pasta is ready, drain directly over the peas and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. Add the pasta and peas to the bowl and toss to coat. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  5. Thinly slice 1/2 small bunch fresh chives until you have 2 tablespoons. Garnish the pasta salad with the chives.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The salad can be made up to a few hours ahead and refrigerated. Reserve 1/2 of the dressing before mixing in the vegetables, pasta, and peas. Stir in the reserved dressing just before serving.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.