Salads/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Cajun Pasta Salad

Creamy and loaded with flavor this Cajun pasta salad is so easy and quick to make and is perfect for BBQs and cookouts.
Cajun pasta salad in a serving bowl with two spoons.

Last Updated on May 27, 2021 by Betty Davies

This creamy Cajun pasta salad is sure to be a hit at your next cookout. With just the right amount of spice, this elbow macaroni pasta salad is full of bright and vibrant flavors, and is a wonderful side to serve with all of your grilled favorites.

Cajun pasta salad in a serving bowl with two spoons and garnished with fresh herbs.

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Grilling season is upon us, and a creamy pasta salad is a must at any feast! Skip the boring recipes, and serve up a huge bowl of this Cajun pasta salad, and you are sure to impress friends and family!

Made with elbow macaroni, bell peppers and cilantro, the mayonnaise dressing is has just the right amount of Cajun spice and tang. It’s a wonderful addition to picnics and BBQs, and is an easy way to add some flavor into your spread.

Be sure to try my Cajun Coleslaw and Orzo Pasta Salad too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: It takes no more than 20 minutes to whip up a big batch of this macaroni pasta salad.
  • Make ahead: This is a great option if you are planning a big feast and it can be made ahead of time.
  • Simple ingredients: You only need a handful of everyday ingredients to make this recipe.
  • Dietary info: This Cajun pasta salad is vegetarian.
Cajun pasta salad garnished with fresh parsley.

Ingredients

  • Pasta: I made this pasta salad with elbow macaroni, but most short dried pastas will work well. Penne, farfalle (bow tie), fusilli and orecchiette will all work well.
  • Bell peppers: I used a mix of green and red bell pepper, they add a great crunch texture and fresh flavor. Dice them finely so that they combine well with the other ingredients.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro adds a great herby freshness. Chop it as finely as you can.
  • For the creamy dressing: Mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Cajun seasoning, black pepper and garlic.

How to make Cajun pasta salad

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Mix together the ingredients for the mayo dressing (photo 1).
  • Boil and drain the pasta (photo 2).
  • Add the pasta, veggies and cilantro to a large bowl (photo 3).
  • Pour over the dressing and toss to combine (photo 4).
Four step by step photos to show how to make the recipe.

Recipe Variations

This Cajun pasta salad is pretty delicious as it is, but there are a few easy swaps you can make to suit your tastes or dietary needs:

  • If you have a gluten intolerance, simply use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • Make it vegan, buy using a plant based mayonnaise.
  • If you don’t like cilantro, swap it for parsley so that you still get that herby freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it keep?

This pasta salad will keep well in the fridge for around 4 to 5 days in a sealed air tight container. Just give it a stir before you serve and it’s good to go. It’s best to allow the salad to sit for at least half an hour in the fridge before serving. This allows the flavors to melt together and the acid from the vinegar will mellow out.

How do you cook pasta for pasta salad?

Your pasta should be cooked just past al dente, so it’s not to firm or too soft. As soon as it’s done cooking, drain it and rinse it under cold running water. This will help to stop the cooking process and prevent your pasta sticking together.

Can you eat pasta salad warm?

Because this Cajun pasta salad has a mayonnaise based dressing, it’s important to cool the pasta before adding it. If the dressing to hot pasta it can separate and become very oily. This pasta salad is best served chilled or at room temperature. Due to the mayo dressing, it shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.

Two spoons in a serving bowl piled with Cajun pasta salad.

Serving Suggestions

This Cajun pasta salad is a wonderful addition to cookouts, BBQs, picnics and potlucks. It’s perfect to serve with burgers, ribs, grilled chicken and fish. It’s a great accompaniment to your every day weeknight meals too.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Take care not to overcook or undercook the pasta. If undercooked it will be tough and chewy, and if overcooked it will be soggy and fall apart when mixed with the other ingredients.
  • Feel free to add on other salad veggies like cucumber or broccoli.
Close up of the macaroni pasta salad.

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Cajun pasta salad in a serving bowl with two spoons.

Cajun Pasta Salad

Creamy and loaded with flavor this Cajun pasta salad is so easy and quick to make and is perfect for BBQs and cookouts.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 405kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried elbow pasta (450g)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • ½ cup cilantro (8g) (finely chopped)

For the Cajun mayonnaise dressing

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in salted boil water til al-dente as per the timings on the packet. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the Cajun mayonnaise dressing in a bowl.
  • Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the chopped peppers and cilantro.
  • Pour over the dressing and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Take care not to overcook or undercook the pasta. If undercooked it will be tough and chewy, and if overcooked it will be soggy and fall apart when mixed with the other ingredients.
  • Feel free to add on other salad veggies like cucumber or broccoli.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 241mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 992IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

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