This delicious Taco Pasta Salad is loaded with seasoned meat, taco toppings and cheese. Serve this easy summertime side dish with your favorite BBQ recipes.
I’m all about serving pasta salad recipes in the summer months. One of my favorites is this easy taco pasta salad recipe. It has all my favorite taco toppings in a cold salad format with a fresh homemade dressing. It’s the next best thing to eating a homemade taco, in my opinion.
If your family are taco fans like mine, you need to serve them this family favorite recipe. It can be a complete meal or a tasty side depending on the occasion.
Make this easy pasta salad recipe in just 30 minutes. It’s perfect to bring to a summer potluck, barbecue or even family reunions. It’s always a hit because who doesn’t like tacos?!
Why You’ll Love Taco Pasta Salad
- Lots of ways to customize to change up the flavors depending on your family’s preferences
- Great addition to a summer potluck, party or BBQ
- Mexican flavors everyone loves
- Not too spicy, but very flavorful
- Tastes even better the next day
- One of my family’s favorite recipes for summer
- Can be served as a main course or side dish
- Rotini pasta – Make sure to cook to al dente according to package directions.
- Lean ground beef
- Garlic powder
- Salsa – Use mild, medium or hot depending on your preference. I usually stick to mild salsa since it appeals to more people.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Chili powder
- Cocktail tomatoes – Cherry or grape tomatoes are fine.
- Red bell pepper
- Green onions
- Cheddar cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Taco Pasta Salad
- Step One: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add ground beef, garlic powder and 3 tablespoons of salsa. Cook until the meat is browned (about 8 to 10 minutes).
- Step Two: Place the beef in a bowl and let it cool.
- Step Three: Add the cooked pasta to a large salad bowl. Add the beef mixture, tomatoes, red pepper, green onion, cilantro and cheddar cheese. Mix to combine.
- Step Four: Add the rest of the olive oil, salsa, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is combined. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve cold.
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What to Serve with Taco Pasta Salad
- Chicken Fajita Foil Packets
- Chicken Fajita Burgers
- Taco Chicken Burgers
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Taco Pizza
- Taco Pasta recipe
Variations and Substitutions
- Use taco seasoning in place of the cumin, chili powder, and oregano.
- Add black beans to the pasta in the last minute of cooking. Drain with the pasta and add to the salad.
- Try other types of bell peppers like yellow pepper, green pepper or orange pepper.
- Add 1 cup of French dressing or Catalina dressing instead of the salsa.
- Add sliced black olives or fresh corn to the salad mixture.
- Substitute sliced red onions or chopped shallots for the green onions.
- Use leftover taco meat instead of making it fresh.
- Try cherry tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes instead of cocktail tomatoes.
- Add a splash of fresh lime juice before serving.
- Serve on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce if you like.
- Substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the ground beef.
- Use Beyond Meat instead of ground beef for a vegetarian version.
- Add a little spice by including hot peppers or jalapeno monterey jack cheese.
- Try another kind of spiral pasta or even bowtie pasta if you like. Other short pastas that will work are penne or macaroni.
- Sour cream
- Corn chips
- Plain tortilla chips – Try my Air Fryer Tortilla Chips!
- Crunchy Doritos – I love the nacho cheese Doritos!
- Tortilla strips
- Green onions
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Make sure to allow the beef to cool before adding to the pasta salad. Otherwise, the cheese will melt if it goes in hot.
- Prep the veggies the night before so it’s quicker to put together the day you want to eat.
- Cook the pasta until al dente so you won’t have a soggy salad.
- Make sure to drain the pasta well so there’s no extra water going into the salad.
Do I Need to Rinse My Pasta with Cold Water Before Using It in the Salad?
Yes. When you are making a cold pasta salad, it’s better to rinse the pasta. This will stop the cooking process, speed up the cooling and remove the excess starch so the pasta doesn’t stick to other ingredients.
Store this taco pasta salad in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Do not freeze.
Pasta Salad Recipes
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Pasta Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Bacon Pea Pasta Salad
- Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Learn how to make your own homemade taco seasoning.
If you make the recipe, rate it on the recipe card below and tag me on Instagram and use #simplystacie. I like sharing the photos on my Instagram stories!
Taco Pasta Salad
- 6 cups rotini pasta cooked
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup salsa divided
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- ½ tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 red pepper diced
- 3 green onions sliced
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese shredded
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add ground beef, garlic powder and 3 tablespoons of salsa. Cook until the meat is browned (about 8 to 10 minutes).
- Place the beef in a bowl and let it cool.
- Add the cooked pasta to a large salad bowl. Add the beef mixture, tomatoes, red pepper, green onion, cilantro and cheddar cheese. Mix to combine.
- Add the rest of the olive oil, salsa, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is combined. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve cold.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.