Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by Kathryn Donangelo
This Taco Pasta Salad Recipe is perfect for BBQs, family gatherings, parties, or any time you need an easy side dish! Loaded with Mexican flavors and favorite taco toppings- everyone will love this cold pasta salad.
Taco Pasta Salad
Looking for a way to change up taco night? This delicious Taco Pasta Salad is hearty, packed with taco flavors, and can be served as a main dish, side dish, or appetizer. It’s best when it’s served cold and can be made a day ahead to make it even easier.
This pasta salad is loaded with taco favorites like beans, corn, tomatoes, cheese, and olives, then it’s mixed with a delicious creamy dressing that takes this dish to another level. It’s super easy to make- all you do is boil the pasta, add in the other ingredients, toss in the dressing, then let it sit in the fridge for a bit. That’s it!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s perfect for an easy summer dinner, the next potluck, BBQ, party, picnic, or anytime you’re craving pasta salad.
- Both kids and adults will love this dish because it’s packed with classic taco flavor!
- You can easily transfer this dish by placing the pasta salad in containers so you can easily bring this to any event or occasion.
- It’s easily customizable. You can add your favorite spices and add as much or little heat as you want.
- Fusilli pasta: I love the shape of this spiral pasta because it holds the dressing perfectly but you can use your favorite pasta for this dish. Others ideas are penne and farfalle or “bowtie pasta”.
- Black beans: You’ll need a can of black beans to be drained and rinsed.
- Corn: I use canned whole kernel corn but you can use fresh corn- just cut cooked corn off the cob.
- Green onions: Be sure to slice your green onions extra thin so the flavor isn’t too overwhelming.
- Fresh cilantro: Be sure to finely chop the cilantro, or you can omit it completely if you know someone who doesn’t like cilantro (it’s more common than you think). I love it because it adds to the Mexican flavors.
- Cherry tomatoes: You could also use Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or tomatoes on the vine. Just be sure to chop them into bite size pieces.
- Black olives: I use canned black olives to add brininess. Be sure to drain the olives and you can rinse them if you want.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: I love the flavor of extra sharp cheese and I highly recommend shredding the cheese yourself. Alternatively, you can use store-bought cheddar cheese or a Mexican blend.
- Salsa: Use your favorite salsa more great flavor. You can use store- bought, homemade, or a pico de gallo will work great too.
- Sour cream: Makes this creamy pasta salad extra delicious and adds a bit of tang.
- Fresh lime juice: Adds a fresh zesty flavor. You can even add some lime zest if you want to add more bright flavors.
- Taco seasoning: You can use pre-made or homemade taco seasoning.
- Chips: I love to use tortilla chips, corn chips, or Doritos to add a little crunch.
How To Make Taco Pasta Salad
Prepare pasta: Boil pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook according to box or package directions or until al dente.
Make salad dressing: While the pasta is cooking, prepare your salad dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the salsa, taco seasoning, sour cream, and lime juice until combined.
Drain and rinse pasta: Drain the tender pasta in a strainer and rinse under cold water until cooled. Transfer cooked pasta to a large bowl.
Add other ingredients: 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 cheese and let chill: 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 salad.
Recipe Tips & Variations
Add meat: Make this pasta salad extra hearty and for a main course by adding taco meat, cooked taco-seasoned ground beef (or chicken), shredded chicken, or ground turkey.
Healthy taco pasta salad: Use whole wheat pasta, swap the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt, and add extra lean ground beef or lean ground turkey to make this pasta salad on the healthy side.
Add more crunch: The more crunch the better! Add a handful of crunchy doritos, plain tortilla chips, any crunchy nacho cheese chips, or garnish the pasta salad with tortilla strips.
Dress it up: Instead of making your own dressing, you could use your own favorite dressing from the store. Catalina dressing and French dressing pairs well with this pasta salad.
Add olive oil: After you rinse the cooked pasta, I always recommend adding a tablespoon of olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
Leftovers & Storage
This easy pasta salad is even better the next day because the flavors sit together making this even better tasting. Place leftovers in an airtight container or cover the dish with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Lettuce: Either iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce will work great and add more crunch. I always recommend shredding the lettuce so the pieces are bite-size. I feel like this should count as a Taco Salad? 🙂
Add spice by adding: Jalapeno monterey jack, hot peppers, more chili powder, your favorite hot sauce, red chili flakes, or pickled jalapeños.
Bell peppers: You can use any color bell pepper, just be sure to remove the seeds.
Red onions: Adds more crunch and a spicy flavor.
Avocado: Either sliced or cubes will add a creamy texture. You can also add guacamole but I recommend adding a spoonful to the top of individual servings.
More beans: Add more protein by adding an extra can of beans. You can add two cans of black beans or use kidney beans, or white beans.
Other Pasta Salad Recipes
- Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Chicken Ranch Pasta Salad
- Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
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Taco 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 can olives rinsed and drained
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- chips optional for topping
- 1/4 cup salsa use your favorite
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Boil pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook according to box instructions or until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare your 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.
- Storing leftovers: Place leftovers in an airtight container or cover the dish with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.