Taco pasta salad is easy to make and delicious.

Full of southwestern flavors like seasoned ground beef and taco toppers like tomatoes, onions, and cheese, this salad includes spiral pasta and crunchy chips for a new twist on the old favorite.

This potluck favorite is full of south-of-the-border flavor.

close up of Taco Pasta Salad

A Fun and Fresh Salad.

  • A zesty alternative to ordinary pasta salads with easy to find ingredients.
  • Budget-friendly and ready in 4 steps.
  • Mix and match ingredients or use what’s in the fridge.
  • Prepare ahead, and toss with the dressing just before serving.
lettuce , catalina dressing , cheese, corn chips , tomatoes , beef , rotini , green onions and taco seasoning with labels to make Taco Pasta Salad

Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients

Pasta – Rotini is a spiral pasta that all those savory flavors can cling to. Look for varieties that will hold up well against the other ingredients like penne, bow-tie, or medium-sized shells.

Meat – Ground beef is so versatile. But you can use any leftover meat like chicken or pork. Make a meatless Monday taco pasta salad by switching out the ground beef for a can of (drained and rinsed) black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans.

Lettuce – No time to shred lettuce? Use a bag of pre-shredded lettuce or coleslaw blend.

Veggies – Any tomatoes will work. Cucumber slices, corn, diced avocado, or colorful strips of bell peppers add a healthy crunch to taco pasta salad.

Cheese – Shredded cheddar, a Mexican cheese blend, Monterey Jack, or cotija crumbles add a tangy flavor to taco pasta salad.

Chips – Corn chips can be switched out for tortilla chips or even spicy Doritos making this recipe extra fun and flavorful.

Dressing – Catalina dressing is heavy on tomato flavor with a tangy, vinegar twist. Use French dressing or any other dressing with a zesty kick to it.

Variations – Sliced black olives, jalapenos, green chilis, and a few splashes of hot sauce are guaranteed to add more kick to taco pasta salad.

How to Make Taco Pasta Salad

  1. Cook and drain pasta. Rinse in cold water (as per the recipe below).
  2. Cook and drain ground beef. Stir in taco seasoning and water and cook until water is evaporated.
  3. Toss the pasta, meat, tomatoes, cheese, green onions, and dressing in a large bowl.
  4. Serve on top of shredded lettuce and top with chips. Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, or lime wedges, if desired.
plated Taco Pasta Salad in white plate

Serving and Storing Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad can be a main dish or side dish and tastes best served cold. Taco pasta salad is a perfect addition to a Mexican themed dinner with Mexican pizza and nacho mac and cheese.

Keep leftover taco pasta salad separate from extra chips and shredded lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Toss salad and adjust seasonings before serving.

More Southern Style Dishes

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plated Taco Pasta Salad in white plate
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Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad has all the fabulous southwestern flavors.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups rotini pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1 cup Catalina salad dressing
  • 2 cups corn chips or tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions 

  • In a medium pot of salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well and rinse under cold water.
  • Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet, cook the beef over medium-high heat until no pink remains, breaking it up with a spoon. Drain any fat and break it into crumbles. Drain again. Stir in the taco seasoning and water (per the package directions). Cook until the water has evaporated and let the beef cool.
  • In a large bowl combine the pasta, meat, tomatoes, cheese, green onion, and Catalina dressing; toss well to coat.
  • To serve, place the shredded iceberg on a serving plate, top with the pasta salad and corn chips (or tortilla chips).

Notes

  • Optional additions or toppings: Cilantro, black olives, black beans, corn kernels, sour cream.
  • Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Keep the chips and the lettuce separate while storing, and add just before serving. 
5 from 1 vote↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 990mg | Potassium: 404mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 914IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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