Taco Pasta Salad

Who doesn’t love tacos? Or pasta? So why not combine the two in a delicious taco pasta salad?

overhead shot of bowl of taco pasta salad with text overlay for facebook


 

With easy ingredients (most of them canned or otherwise store bought) you can toss together a pasta salad that has all of the flavors of tacos. If you want to spend the time on cooking meats to go on it, that’s great, but you can absolutely make this a vegetarian dish, too. 

Great for Parties and Potlucks

I love that I can toss this taco salad together in no time for a summer cookout — it’s one of my go-to favorite recipes in the summertime. But it can also serve as a main meal (feel free to add taco meat, too) on busy weeknight, especially taco night (taco Tuesday calls my name each week!)..

The other great thing about this salad is that everyone loves it. Kiddos and adults will chow down equally on this either as the main course for an easy summer dinner — or as a side dish — and your leftovers will be also be amazing the next day for lunch or a repeat dinner,

The next time you need an easy recipe for a great cookout or potluck dish, look to this! You’ll wow your friends — and even maybe yourself — with the amazing flavors you can get without actually stuffing tacos in your face (though we’re all about that, too).

taco pasta salad mixed up in a bowl

Why You’ll Love Taco Pasta Salad

  • Easy – Just throw a few packaged ingredients, and a couple fresh ones, together and boil the pasta, and it’s done!
  • Portable – You can easily tote this off to a party or a picnic — just throw it in some containers.
  • Customizable – You can make this as hot or mild as you want. You can also omit the pasta and make it a dip or you can make it hearty by adding meat.
bowl of taco pasta salad

Ingredients

The ingredient list is short and includes many pantry staples.

  • Dry fusilli pasta – You can choose any shape of pasta that you prefer but this is one of my favorites and it grabs on the ingredients perfectly. Another great choice is bowtie pasta.
  • Black beans – Rinse and drain your canned black beans before using, or cook up your own at home prior to adding them to this salad.
  • Corn – Drain and rinse your corn before adding it to the salad. You can also use fresh corn — just cut it off the cob after cooking.
  • Green onions (scallions) – Ensure to slice these super thin so they look pretty in the salad but also don’t overwhelm eaters with a big bite of onion.
  • Fresh cilantro –  Chop your cilantro finely. If you know your audience, and someone doesn’t like it (it’s genetic, friends), then leave it out. It is, in fact, a real thing that some folks think cilantro tastes like soap or dirt and it is actually genetic, don’t waste your time trying to get them to like it.
  • Cherry tomatoes – Quarter your cherry tomatoes so that they are perfectly bite-sized.
  • Canned olives – Drain these. If you want, and enjoy, some extra brininess you can leave them as they are. Otherwise, rinse them.
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – I always recommend shredding it at home, but you can use the store bought shredded version as well. You can also experiment with other cheesy goodness like a jalapeno monterey jack or cotija.
  • Salsa Make your own or buy your favorite at the store. This can be a pico de gallo or traditional dipping sauce.
  • Taco seasoning – Use your own personal blend, or grab the one you like best from your local grocer.
  • Sour cream – Full fat is always preferable, but you can use low or no fat if you prefer. Crema Mexicana is also a good choice, but a little thinner.
  • Fresh lime juice – Juice your own limes for the freshest and brightest lime flavor. If you really like citrus, add some zest too.
close up of taco pasta salad

How To Make Taco Pasta Salad

  1. Boil pasta. Boil pasta according to package instructions. 
  2. Make dressing. In a medium bowl whisk together the salsa, taco seasoning, sour cream, and lime juice until combined. Ensure that they are entirely incorporated, especially the taco seasoning. 
  3. Drain and rinse pasta. Once finished, when the pasta is ready, drain it in a strainer to remove any excess moisture. Rinse the pasta under cold water until it’s completely cooled to avoid warming any other ingredients and tap to get off all of the water.
  4. Add vegetables. Add the beans, corn, green onions, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, olives, and dressing to the pasta and fold together gently. 
  5. Add dressing and mix. Then, add the dressing and mix again, coating all ingredients.
  6. Toss in cheese. Toss in the shredded cheese and stir until it is completely mixed in. 
  7. Chill. Allow the salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
collage of how to make taco pasta salad

Taco Pasta Salad Variations

While this salad is great on its own you can also toss in plenty of great additions. Any of your favorite taco toppings are a great idea, but here are a few other suggestions:

  • Spice it up – Add crushed red pepper, chili powder, or cayenne or even your own favorite peppers or jalapenos.
  • Add some zip– Toss some more lemon or lime juice with the pasta, or even add it to the water while the pasta is cooking.
  • Make it low carb- Instead of using pasta, try using riced cauliflower as the base. If you want a warm dish, try cooking up the ingredients and serving them over mashed cauliflower. 
  • Dress it– Instead of making your dressing, choose one from the grocery store and dress it up. French dressing or Catalina dressings are good options. 
  • Make it meaty– Add any ground meat you may want, like ground turkey or beef. Pulled meats like chicken or pork are delicious as well.
  • Serve it saucy- You can make a pasta dish all on its own or you can leave out the pasta and serve this as a salad over romaine lettuce or a sauce on baked potatoes.
  • Pack in some peppers– Add some green bell peppers, or other varieties, to add some color and flavor.
  • Order up onions – Add any diced variety whether it’s red onions, yellow or white. 
  • Give some love to the olive (oil) – Add just a touch of olive oil to the dressing to add some flavor and also up the healthiness factor in this dressing.
  • Get crunchy – Either use plain tortilla chips to dig right in and scoop up all of this goodness, or crush them and sprinkle over top for some salty flavor and a little crunch. You can also use some crunchy Doritos (any flavor you like) to add some goodness to this dish.
taco pasta salad on a spoon

Storage & Freezing

To store: Store the meat separately in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Do not store ingredients together to prevent wilting or contamination.

To freeze: This recipe does not freeze well.

If you’ve tried this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.

collage of taco pasta salad for pinterest

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taco pasta salad in a bowl with text overlay for pinterest
overhead shot of bowl of taco pasta salad

Taco Pasta Salad

4.19 from 11 votes
Zesty taco flavors in the form of a pasta salad. Perfect for potlucks and parties!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Pasta Salad:

  • 4 ounces dry fusilli pasta
  • 1 cup black beans , rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn , rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup green onions , thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro , chopped
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes , quartered
  • 2.5 ounce black olives , drained and sliced
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese , shredded

Dressing:

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook according to box instructions or until al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the salad dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the salsa, taco seasoning, sour cream, and lime juice until combined.
  • Drain the pasta in a strainer and rinse under cold water until cooled. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the beans, corn, green onions, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, olives, and dressing to the pasta. Mix well until all of the ingredients are combined.
  • Mix in the shredded cheese and stir until all of the pasta is evenly coated.
  • Let the pasta salad sit in the refrigerator for at least hour. Stir again before serving and enjoy cold.
  • If you tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!

Nutrition

Calories: 180 kcal, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Protein: 9 g, Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 5 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 506 mg, Potassium: 300 mg, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g, Vitamin A: 633 IU, Vitamin C: 6 mg, Calcium: 164 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Kathryn Donangelo
Calories: 180
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: taco pasta salad, taco salad
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!

Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 3 stars
    Seriously interesting recipes. Nice to view on website. However,,. it would make us want to try the recipes if you had direct print link after we view your recipe. I get your newsletter in email and one would think I would be able to view and print it.

    1. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to put a print button in the newsletter. There is one on the recipe card right in the top!

  2. 5 stars
    Perfect easy summer pasta salad! Made a batch and everyone wanted seconds…definitely will make again!

  3. 5 stars
    The taco pasta salad recipe came out deliciously! Super easy to make and tasty! Thanks for the recipe.