Salads/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Creamy Taco Pasta Salad

This Mexican inspired taco pasta salad is loaded with flavor. Quick and easy to make, this macaroni salad recipe is bold and so delicious!
Taco pasta salad in a serving bowl with spoons and lime wedges.

Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Betty Davies

Made with macaroni, black beans, cheese, corn and green onions and tossed in a seasoned mayo and ranch dressing, this creamy taco pasta salad is loaded with your favorite Mexican flavors. Quick and easy to make, it’s the perfect make ahead side for potlucks, BBQs and picnics.

Overhead shot of a creamy taco pasta salad in a serving bowl garnished with lime wedges and cilantro.

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Whenever I can sneak some Mexican flavors onto the table, I will! If you are a fan of all things taco, you are going to adore this creamy taco pasta salad. If you are planning a cookout, then this needs to make an appearance!

The creamy dressing is made with mayonnaise and ranch dressing, and flavored with taco seasoning and lime juice for a fresh flavor. The macaroni salad is loaded with black beans, corn, cheese and green onions, and every bite is full of texture and flavor.

Great for BBQs, it’s also a great accompaniment to all of your Mexican feasts.

Be sure to try my Red Pesto Pasta Salad and Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: Just cook the pasta, make the dressing and toss everything together. It takes no more than 20 minutes.
  • Make ahead: This is a great dish that you can make ahead of time, perfect if you are hosting. The leftovers taste pretty good in the days following too!
  • Perfect for the whole family: This pasta salad is flavorful but not spicy. It easily serves 10, so it’s a great option for a crowd, but is easily halved too.
  • Dietary info: This creamy taco pasta salad is vegetarian.
Macaroni pasta salad in a bowl with lime wedges and cilantro garnish.

Ingredients

  • Pasta: I used elbow macaroni for this recipe, but you can easily use other small shaped pastas like baby shells, farfalle, penne or fusilli.
  • Mayonnaise: For a rich and creamy pasta salad dressing.
  • Ranch dressing: This adds a herby onion and garlic flavor to the dressing.
  • Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar has a very mild acidity, so it’s great to balance out the creaminess.
  • Taco seasoning: You can use store bought or make your own.
  • Chili flakes: These are optional, but I like to add a few for a bit of spice.
  • Tomato paste: This gives the dressing a nice tangy flavor.
  • Lime juice: Use fresh lime rather than bottled for the best flavor.
  • Vegetables: Green onion and corn. I used canned baby sweetcorn, but you can use fresh or frozen too.
  • Black beans: Drain and rinse the canned beans well before using.
  • Cheese: I used a Mexican shredded cheese blend, but any shredded cheeses will work well.

How to make taco pasta salad

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Make the pasta salad dressing in a large bowl (photo 1).
  • Add the cooked pasta and the rest of the salad ingredients to the dressing (photo 2).
  • Toss to combine (photo 3).
Three step by step photos to show how to make the recipe.

Recipe Variations

This taco pasta salad is pretty good as it is, but you can easily adapt it to suit your own tastes. For a super non-spicy recipe, simply omit the chili flakes, or add in some cayenne if you like things hot. You can easily add in other veggies too if you like, green bell peppers or cherry tomatoes would make a great addition.

Turn this into a meatier dish by adding in some cooked shredded chicken or browned ground beef.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best taco seasoning to use?

I used a packet of Old El Paso Original Taco seasoning to flavor the dressing. Taco seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices including salt, paprika, oregano, chili powder and cumin. You can use your favorite store bought or homemade recipe.

Do you serve it warm or cold?

Pasta salads with a creamy mayo dressing should be served cold. Once you have cooked the pasta, drain it and rinse it well under cold running water to cool it down. This stops the cooking process so that your pasta won’t be overcooked and mushy, but it’s also important to not add it hot to the dressing. If you add hot pasta to the dressing, the mayo can split and cause the salad to become oily.

Can you make it with fresh pasta?

Dried pasta is the way to go when making a pasta salad. Fresh noodles are softer and tend to break up when mixed with the dressing. I love to use elbow macaroni for this recipe, but any small pasta shapes will work well.

Taco pasta salad garnished with a lime wedge.

Serving Suggestions

This is a great side to serve at BBQs, picnics or to accompany your main meal. Try it with some of these favorites.

Make Ahead and Storage

This taco pasta salad is a great make ahead side dish. It will keep well in the fridge, covered, for two to 3 days, and for best results, it’s best to let it sit for an hour before serving to let the flavors develop.

Because the dressing is mayonnaise based, it’s best not to leave it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours and it’s not suitable for freezing.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Cook the pasta in salted water. This adds flavor to the pasta, and without it, the final dish can end up quite bland.
  • Take care not to overcook or undercook the pasta. Overcooked and your salad will be soft and mushy. It should be easy to eat, but still have a slight bite to it (al-dente).
  • Rinse the cooked pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking. Hot pasta should not be added straight to the dressing.
Pasta salad served in a large bowl with two spoons.

This creamy taco pasta salad is the side dish for the summer! So quick and easy to make with a few everyday basic ingredients, it’s perfect for feeding a crowd and easy entertaining. If you love all things Mexican, you are going to love this twist on a family favorite.

More Salad Recipes

If you’ve tried this recipe, be sure to leave a star rating and a comment below!

Taco pasta salad in a serving bowl with spoons and lime wedges.

Creamy Taco Pasta Salad

This Mexican inspired taco pasta salad is loaded with flavor. Quick and easy to make, this macaroni salad recipe is bold and so delicious!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 329kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (450g)

For the dressing

Pasta salad add ins

  • 6 green onions (sliced)
  • 1 can baby corn (chopped) (14oz / 398g)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (15oz / 425g)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (120g)

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the pasta and cook til al dente.
  • Once cooked, drain, rinse under cold running water and set to one side.
  • Add all of the ingredients for the dressing into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  • Add the cooked pasta, sliced green onions, baby corn, black beans and cheese to the dressing.
  • Toss to combine.

Notes

  • Cook the pasta in salted water. This adds flavor to the pasta, and without it, the final dish can end up quite bland.
  • Take care not to overcook or undercook the pasta. Overcooked and your salad will be soft and mushy. It should be easy to eat, but still have a slight bite to it (al-dente).
  • Rinse the cooked pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking. Hot pasta should not be added straight to the dressing.

Nutrition

Sodium: 339mg | Calcium: 90mg | Vitamin C: 5mg | Vitamin A: 284IU | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 5g | Potassium: 308mg | Cholesterol: 14mg | Calories: 329kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Fat: 13g | Protein: 11g | Carbohydrates: 43g | Iron: 2mg

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