Why You Should Never Add Butter To Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are the ultimate versatile dish. Just customize the ingredient list to match any mood, theme, or event on the horizon. Plus, they're often easy to throw together, can be prepared in advance, and feed a crowd. there's no better time to work on your pasta salad game now that the weather is heating up. Luckily, there's one simple rule that can drastically improve the quality of your final dish: skip the butter.

At first glance, butter may seem like the perfect addition to almost any pasta salad. After all, it's undeniably delicious, providing richness and flavor to anything it's added to. Unfortunately, though, the move could be a huge mistake. According to Bon Appétit, you should never add butter to pasta salad because when cooled to room temperature (or lower), the butter will congeal and re-solidify — leaving your pasta salad with a less-than-ideal consistency once you're ready to serve it.

Why butter doesn't work in pasta salad

As Bon Appétit noted, pasta salads need fat to give them luscious flavor and texture. So, rather than using butter, you should stick with olive oil, which stays liquid at room temperature. As such, your noodles will remain glossy and coated, and you won't have to worry about any congealing.

This distinction makes sense. Per Harvard's School of Public Health, butter mainly consists of saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature and melt when heated. In contrast, unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) remain liquid even at room temperature. Keeping this logic in mind, you can dress your pasta salad with another flavorful unsaturated fat — like walnut oil — if you want to switch things up further.

Alternatively, if you're hoping to make a pasta salad that boasts a creamy texture, you can try incorporating other dairy products that won't cause the same issues as butter. One option, for example, is to add sour cream to your pasta salad dressing, as is recommended in this recipe for a Southwest-inspired pasta salad. Another reliable option, per Bon Appétit, is to include a soft cheese — mozzarella, goat cheese, and feta all work great.