This Taco Pasta Salad was easy to throw together and is a great side dish to go with all the Mexican dishes we are always making.
A classic pasta salad is always safe to bring to potlucks and bbq’s, but sometimes you gotta spice it up! Try this Mexican twist on pasta salad next time you need to bring a side dish!
Mexican Pasta Salad = keeper
Our family gatherings are a good way to get a consensus on whether or not a recipe is a keeper. Today’s recipe for Taco Pasta Salad was a new one we brought to a family BBQ, and it was a hit!
It’s a Mexican Pasta Salad filled with black beans, corn, cilantro, avocado, cheese and more. What’s not to love about all those ingredients?
This side dish was also very simple, and makes a great side for any meal, but also a great addition to any Mexican meal spread. Definitely another keeper recipe!
How to Make + Variations
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and pour in a large bowl.
Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa and cheese to the bowl and mix with the pasta.
In another bowl, whisk together olive oil lime juice, cumin and chili powder. Pour this over the pasta salad and seas on with garlic salt and pepper.
Right before serving add chopped cilantro and diced avocado. Top with queso fresco if desired.
This salad can easily be changed up based on the ingredients you add/omit. Here are some other great ingredients:
- Different meat – shredded beef, pork and steak also work great
- Salsa – change it up by adding a sweet salsa verde or tomatillo salsa
- Beans – Pinto, Red or White Beans all work great
Can you make this recipe gluten free? This recipe is easily adaptable to being gluten free based on the pasta that you include. If you replace the normal shells with gluten free shells you will be set!
What is the best pasta shape to use for this recipe? We like using classic shells but macaroni, penne, or bow ties would work well too. I wouldn’t quite advise using spaghetti noodles for this specific recipe.
Making Ahead of Time
You can make this pasta salad ahead of time. Just store in an airtight container, and the cilantro and avocado right before serving. You may need to add more of the dressing right before since that will get absorbed a bit.
For leftovers, keep in a tupperware in the fridge, but once the avocados are browned, it’s no longer good. If you omitted the avocados, this can be stored for up to 5-6 days in the fridge.
For more pasta salad recipes, check out:
- Classic Pasta Salad
- Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Chinese Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pasta Salad
Taco Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 box pasta shells
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 10 oz corn frozen
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 8 oz shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3-4 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1-2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup cilantro fresh and chopped
- 1 avocado diced
- garlic salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and pour in a large bowl.
- Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa and shredded cheese to the pasta.
- In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Season to taste with garlic salt & pepper and mix well.
- Just before serving, add cilantro and cubed avocado.
This looks super tasty! What is El Pato? I googled it, and it was a brand with many different items. Is there a specific El Pato to use? Thanks for sharing 🙂
I have the same question. Is it tomato sauce?
I should have been more clear – it’s the El Pato Tomato Sauce. I updated the ingredient list. 😉
The recipe calls for salsa but that is not in the ingredient list
Sorry about that… many people call el pato sauce salsa. I updated the recipe so it says to add the El Pato. 🙂
This was also good warmed up 🙂
Good to know! So glad it was a hit. 🙂
Could I just use salsa instead of the El Pato? Or is the El Pato a different texture/consistency and therfore should not be substituted? I am not sure if I will be able to find this at my local grocery store.
I would try regular salsa if you can’t find El Pato, but El Pato has a thin consistency that is mostly sauce with no added veggies.
Thank you Kristyn for the nice recipes. Have a good weekend and stay cool.
Thank you SO much, Liz! Hope you stay cool too. 🙂
I am upset it has taken me this long to learn that a Taco version of pasta salad was a thing. Sad really. I am beyond exciting to try making this one!!!
I know this will be great. i season my 2 bean salad just the same as this. for this one i will ad some chicken or a can of drained tuna, use fresh tomato chopped, and substitute a bottled italian dressing for the olive oil and lime juice. it is handy and doesn’t harm the flavor. i think you can get bottled dressing that is vinegar, oil and wine, without seasoning that would work. since most of us always have it on hand it just makes sense to use it. not a fan of avocados, unless made into guacamole, so will probably omit those. just some tips for variation. marie
I love this idea!! We love pasta salad & never thought to make a taco pasta salad! I will definitely have to make this for Cinco de Mayo! I love all these ingredients!
Pasta and mexican! What could be better? Great salad that comes together quickly and has a great taste.
I live in phoenix as well and im aLWays looking for summer time meals that wont heat up the housE. I love this take on Tacos!
we love pasta and mexican but who knew putting them together would be so amazing1 My daughter asked to take the leftovers for her school lunch! keeper for sure1
Oh my yummy! I lOve this! It is So siMple to make and has amazing flavor.
Thank you so much! Happy you think so 🙂