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Taco Pasta Salad Recipe

Taco Pasta Salad Recipe


  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 Cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Catalina salad dressing
  • Tortilla chips
  • 1 Cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 3 Cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 Cups uncooked spiral pasta
  • 1 Pound ground turkey or beef


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the taco seasoning; cool.

Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stir into meat mixture. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onion, green pepper and dressing; toss to coat. Serve with tortilla chips.

Easy Taco Pasta Salad

I had my baby last week and I’d expect for the food cravings to disappear but nope, I’ve been craving pasta salad since I left the hospital! During the summer time I could seriously eat pasta salad every. Single. Day. I’m always on the lookout for yummy pasta salad recipes. This taco pasta salad is one of my favs. It has a light, refreshing taste and packed full of fresh veggies. It’s meatless but you can certainly add in bacon, ground beef or chicken to make this a complete meal.

Sour cream would probably go great on top!

The taco flavors of this pasta salad comes from the salsa and the taco seasonings so be sure to use a really good brand of both. I used a smokey salsa from the deli that was full of flavor and spices and a homemade taco seasoning mix. Because of this I didn’t have to add in any additional seasonings like cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, etc. If your salsa is on the blah side you may need to spruce up the noodles by adding in some spices like cummin, chili powder, oregano, fresh garlic, etc. The noodles should taste flavorful enough by themselves (which is how my son likes to eat it).

Those colors make me happy!

This taco pasta salad tastes great the same day you make it and even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to mingle. I always add in the avocado and cheese right when I’m getting ready to serve it so that everything is nice and fresh! The romaine lettuce holds up pretty well but you can add that when you are ready to serve as well if you prefer. I love serving this alongside grilled meats. The colors and flavors really compliment it well.


This is such a fun way to switch up your regular pasta salads. Everyone will love this recipe! Keep scrolling for the full recipe and ingredient amounts.

  • Ground beef –Find yourself a lean or extra lean ground beef. Otherwise, make sure to drain the fat off.
  • Taco seasoning –I have a container of taco seasoning that I use. You can also use a 1 oz packet.
  • Pasta –I used shells for this recipe. You can use any other small varieties you like such as penne, rotini, farfalle, macaroni, and fusilli.
  • Corn –You can use canned, frozen, or fresh corn.
  • Black beans –If you use dried beans make sure to give yourself time to rehydrate them. Canned beans will need to be rinsed thoroughly.
  • Grape tomatoes –I find these work best for this salad and are the easiest to prepare. Other types like Roma or Beefsteak will work as well.
  • Iceberg lettuce –This type of lettuce is nice and crunchy and will hold up well in this salad. You can use any type you have handy.
  • Black olives –I sliced the olives into smaller pieces. You can keep them whole as well.
  • Cheddar cheese –A Mexican blend will work as well. Feel free to use either fresh or pre-shredded.
  • French dressing –You can use more or less than what the recipe calls for depending on your preference.
  • Doritos –I used original Doritos. There are lots of other great flavors you can experiment with!

How To Make This Taco Pasta Salad Recipe

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions drain well and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning until well combined. Add cooked pasta, beans, corn and tomatoes. Chill.

Before serving, fold in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and green onion.

Recipe Summary

  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocados - peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (16 ounce) package corn chips
  • 1 (16 ounce) bottle Catalina salad dressing

Prepare the ground beef as directed by taco seasoning package and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the beef mixture, lettuce, red onion, green onion, pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, avocado and cheese. Mix well.

Before serving, add the corn chips and enough dressing to coat. Mix well and serve immediately.

  • 12 ounces whole-wheat penne
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • ⅓ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water transfer to a large bowl. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, onion and cilantro.

Whisk salsa, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder in a small bowl. Add to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 1 day (if holding for longer than 30 minutes, wait to add avocados and cilantro until ready to serve). Garnish with additional cilantro and serve.

To make ahead: Omit avocados and cilantro and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Stir in avocados and cilantro just before serving.

Tips for making the BEST taco pasta salad:

  • This salad is HUGE so you&rsquoll need a super big bowl. If you need a suggestion for a quality deep wood salad bowl, I have had this 12×7 inch acacia bowl via for a couple of years now, and love the shape and size! It&rsquos so beautiful.
  • I used Catalina salad dressing and it worked out yummy here. If that&rsquos not a favorite of yours, try using another dressing like ranch or zesty Italian. I also had some taco sauce in the fridge, so I used some of it as well. Yum!
  • Taco pasta salad is very easy to cater to taste! Leave out anything you don&rsquot love or consider other add-ins like black olives, black beans, and/or top with sour cream. I also topped mine with tortilla strips, but crushed Doritos work great too for some added crunch and flavor.
  • You might be asking why I didn&rsquot only season just the ground beef. I chose to season the cooked noodles and cooked ground beef together, so the noodles would get some of that yummy taco flavor, too! I used a taco packet, but check out our taco seasoning recipe for a homemade option.
  • I added a couple of chopped avocados right before serving so they didn&rsquot turn brown. They&rsquore optional, yet so yummy!
  • Leftover taco pasta salad can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Check out the video on Youtube for an easy tutorial to make Taco Pasta Salad!

Taco pasta salad is so easy to make but it doesn’t sacrifice one bit of flavor! It’s kind of a two-parter in the sense that you combine most ingredients and toss it in the fridge. Then you fold in the cheese, crushed Doritos and avocados just before serving for the perfect combination of flavor and crunch.

Ingredient Notes

This recipe makes a generous amount of taco pasta salad. It will serve 12-15 people conservatively and even more at a potluck.

Making taco pasta salad calls for spiral pasta and it seems to be the best choice for this recipe. Believe it or not, pasta shape does matter! It should catch the perfect amount of sauce (or dressing) in every delectable bite.

Cooking your pasta al dente works best with this recipe. If you undercook it then you end up with cardboard and if you overcook it then it turns mushy.

Storing Tips

Storing your taco pasta salad in the fridge in an airtight container will keep it fresh and tasty. Just remember that a few of the ingredients are added at the end before serving for best results.

Usually there aren’t any leftovers to contend with because taco pasta salad is always a crowd-pleasing favorite. If you happen to mix up a batch for a smaller crowd, then you can divide it in half and just add the last-minute ingredients to the bowl you are immediately serving.

Can You Freeze This

In a word, Nope – Unfortunately, you cannot freeze taco pasta salad. The creamy dressing base and fresh summer veggies just can’t stand up to the freezing temperatures.

Make Ahead Tips

I know a lot of people do food prep and there are a couple of things you can do to prepare for this recipe ahead of time. Depending on how far you are preparing ahead, the taco meat can be prepared and frozen in pre-portioned baggies for time-saving convenience.

Mix up the dressing and store it in a sealed jar in the fridge until you are ready to make your salad. Chop the veggies on prep day and store them in an airtight container next to the dressing. The day before serving your salad, go ahead and thaw your taco meat and cook your pasta.

Combine your ingredients and let them get acquainted with each other in the fridge overnight. Toss in your last-minute ingredients and garnish before serving to some extremely lucky crowd.

How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?

According to the USDA , your taco pasta salad will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days when stored properly. They recommend storing cold foods below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Taco Pasta Salad

Taco Pasta Salad is a cold Southwest pasta salad recipe filled with black beans, corn, cilantro, avocados, and tomatoes. It’s tossed in a vinaigrette and sprinkled with cheese. I love taking this Taco Pasta Salad to potlucks and BBQs. It’s a Mexican dish everyone loves.


We all know that when we go to a potluck there’s always a number of pasta salads to choose from. This Taco Pasta Salad recipe completely stands out with its southwest flair. And you know me, I could eat Mexican food any and every day. I mean I even have a Taco Pasta recipe on this site.

Pick whatever pasta you like and cook according to the package directions. Once it has cooled toss in your black beans, corn, and cilantro. This is only a half batch because I was only making it for my family.

Add some tomatoes and salsa too! You can control the heat here with the kind of salsa you choose.

The dressing is made from some olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and some Old El Paso taco seasoning.

Whisk this together and toss over the pasta.

At this point you can chill until serving if making ahead of time. Otherwise, toss in the shredded cheese and avocados. Chill until cold, then serve!

Taco Pasta Salad

Everyone loves tacos, so this cold pasta salad will be a welcome side dish for your next gathering. Our taco pasta salad is also a quick and easy summer dinner. We’ve replaced the corn chips that are often found in taco salad with pasta.

In the spirit of a non-soggy taco pasta salad, I removed the lettuce from my recipe. I can’t bear the slimy texture it starts to form after a while. On the other hand, it’s chock full of juicy tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and black beans. I love the addition of black beans, but pinto would be delicious as well!