Acini di Pepe Pasta Salad is a creamy pasta salad with mandarin oranges, pineapple, mini marshmallows, AND whipped cream. The fact that this has “salad” in the title is a serious offense. But at the same time you can’t be mad about it. 

I literally sat at my computer for a solid 5 minutes trying to figure out if I should file this recipe under salads, pasta dishes, or side dishes. I couldn’t decide so I filed it under all 3 🙂

A bowl full of Acini de Pepe Pasta Salad.

This recipe isn’t new to the world, not even close. I’m convinced this recipe has been around since the 70’s (if not earlier). It’s exactly the kind of “salad” I can picture my grandma bringing to a potluck.

And I can see why! This side dish is usually one of the first foods to go. Everyone loves it. Especially me.

I’m the food texture queen so I have to say something about the acini de Pepe pasta texture. I just love those tiny pasta balls so much! The texture they bring to this dish is unreal!

If you’re at all like me (you love and appreciate texture) then you’ll love this dish.

How to make Acini di Pepe Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the acini di Pepe pasta until al dente. Run under cold water. Tip: place the pasta in a fine mesh strainer, this will make your life MUCH easier! (The tiny noodles are too small for a colander). Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. A close up photo of cooked acini de Pepe pasta.
  2. Make the sauce by stirring the reserved pineapple juice, reserved mandarin oranges juice, sugar, eggs, salt, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Tip: use a whisk to keep the sauce nice and smooth.  A saucepan full of sauce for acini de Pepe pasta.
  3. Once the sauce is thick, remove it from the heat and pour it over the cooked pasta. A glass bowl full of sauce and acini de Pepe cooked pasta.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Add the good stuff! Once cold, and right before serving, stir in the crushed pineapple and oranges, whipped topping, and marshmallows. Note: you CAN add more oranges and marshmallows than what’s called for. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want the salad to be overloaded with the fruits, but that’s just me!
  6. Surprisingly our pasta salad kept in the fridge for 3 days! Wahoo! I thought the whipped topping would lapse and the salad would turn runny at some point, but it didn’t.

Do you know what this means?? You CAN prep Acini de Pepe salad in advance 🥳 I mean, I wouldn’t go overboard and make this 24 hours ahead of time but hey! A few hours before your shindig takes place, you can make this and have it ready to go.

A bowl of acini de Pepe pasta with mini marshmallows.

A bowl full of Acini de Pepe Pasta Salad.
Print Review
5 from 2 votes

Acini di Pepe Salad

Not your typical "pasta salad," this side dish has marshmallows, whipped topping, and various fruits. I guess the fruit makes it healthy-ish. 🙂
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Chill Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 14 servings


  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons acini di pepe pasta
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple - drained and juice reserved *see notes
  • 1 11 oz can mandarin oranges - drained and juice reserved
  • 8 oz container frozen whipped topping - thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch


  • Cook the acini di pepe in salted boiling water until al dente. Run under cold water. Drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl. 
  • In a saucepan stir the reserved pineapple juice, reserved mandarin oranges juice, sugar, eggs, salt, and cornstarch. Turn the heat to medium and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour over the cooked pasta and refrigerate until chilled. 
  • Once cold, (and just before serving) stir in the crushed pineapple and oranges, whipped topping, and marshmallows. Serve cold. 


*when draining the pineapple you'll want to gently squeeze the pineapple so that it releases more of its juices. (Don't ring out... just gently press it so that the pineapple isn't still soaked in its' juices). Does that make sense?? Hope so. 


Calories: 168kcal (8%)Carbohydrates: 36g (12%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 2g (3%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Cholesterol: 33mg (11%)Sodium: 111mg (5%)Potassium: 29mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 21g (23%)Vitamin A: 72IU (1%)Calcium: 22mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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