Mexican pasta salad is an unbelievably easy and flavorful pasta salad filled with colorful ingredients like black beans, tomatoes, and corn.  With a creamy dressing and spices from onion, cilantro, and cumin, this delicious pasta salad will be the hit of your summer barbecues for sure!

We love any pasta salad at our house!  Orzo Pasta Salad and Kale Pasta salad are two other must-try recipes that my family cannot get enough of!

A bowl of Mexican pasta salad with a wooden spoon.

Easy Mexican Pasta Salad Recipe

Summer calls for easily portable food that can be made ahead, and most importantly, something that will be a huge hit with everyone on your block!  Pasta salads are the perfect dish that checks all those boxes.  They are a frequently requested side that is easy to make ahead and travels well.  One of the best things about this recipe is that I usually have all the ingredients on hand.  Well, except for the tomatoes, but soon I will have plenty of fresh tomatoes in my garden!

The dressing is a creamy salsa dressing and makes this salad so flavorful. Use a jarred salsa that you really like since that is where a lot of the flavor will come from. I used salad macaroni (aka salad Roni or ditalini) because that is what my mom always uses, but you can use another type of pasta if you prefer.  This Mexican pasta salad is the perfect side dish recipe, and you will be so happy you found it just in time for your summer barbecues!

What’s in Mexican Pasta Salad?

So, I pretty much think Feta cheese is the best thing ever. I put that stuff on everything. I love, love, love it on Mexican food. So, when I found this Mexican pasta salad included Feta cheese, I was sold!  The creamy crumbles add so much flavor, and I loved it (as always) in this pasta salad!  You can either stir some into the salad, use it as a garnish on top, or leave it out entirely if you are not a super fan like me.

Salad

  • Macaroni: Use a small salad rotini noodle or ditalini that can easily be scooped up in a bite with the other ingredients.
  • Black beans: Rinse before adding into mixture.
  • Corn: Drain then add to the mixture for sweetness and texture.
  • Roma tomatoes: Dice so that they will mix into the salad and you will be able to scoop up some of the sweet flavor in every bite. You can use cherry tomatoes too!
  • Green onions: Finely chopped these give great color to your dish and a bright earthy flavor.
  • Red Onion: Finely chop so that you do not bite into a big piece of onion. The sharp flavor is great with some of the other more mild ingredients.
  • Cilantro: My cilantro is growing like crazy in my garden right now. When I chop up some to add to the mix the scent is amazing!
  • Feta cheese: Optional if you want a creamy burst of flavor.

Salad Dressing

  • Salsa: Use a fresh salsa with flavors you love.
  • Sour cream: Adds texture and flavor
  • Mayonnaise: Adds creaminess to the dressing.
  • Garlic:minced or pressed
  • Cumin: Great earthy spice gives this dressing a hit of flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: To taste
  • Lime juice: To taste- this will add some freshness to the salad. Don’t skip it!
2 pictures showing the ingredients in a bowl (not mixed together) and the dressing being poured on them.

How to Make Mexican Pasta Salad:

The steps for making this Mexican pasta salad are so easy to follow, and there is no way to mess this recipe up! Just swap out the ingredients for your favorites, following the same steps, and you will have a homemade pasta salad ready to go! Once you have this process down, you can make any pasta salad you want.

  1. Cook pasta: Follow package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Rinsing with cold water will help prevent it from sticking together. Set aside and allow to cool and dry completely.
  2. Add remaining ingredients: When dry, add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, onion and cilantro.
  3. Whisk together dressing and combine with pasta: In a large bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and pour it over the pasta mixture.  Stir together until everything is evenly coated in sauce.
  4. Optional Variations: You can either stir the Feta cheese into the salad or use it as a garnish on top. Taste and adjust any ingredients as needed.
  5. Serve: Refrigerate until ready to use. This is best served on the day it is made. Serves 8-12 people.
A close up of Mexican pasta salad.

Easy Ingredient Swaps:

This recipe, as written is delicious, but sometimes not all ingredients work for everyone.  Or maybe you are out of just one thing and you don’t want to run to the store.  I get it.  Here are some easy ways to adapt this recipe if needed.

  • Pasta: Use any type of pasta noodle you love.  This recipe calls for Rotini or Ditalini.  Other popular varieties include elbow macaroni, penne, and shells.
  • Food sensitivity: Gluten free noodles will also work great in this recipe.
  • Heat: Adjust the spiciness of your Mexican pasta salad by using hot, medium, or mild salsa.
  • Cheese: There are many different varieties of cheese that would be amazing in this pasta salad. Try Monterey jack or any that you love.

The top view of Mexican pasta salad.

Best Macaroni Salad Tips

The success of this Mexican Pasta Salad depends greatly on the pasta!  It is important to not over or under cook the pasta.  You want the noodles to absorb some of the dressing but not so much that it becomes gummy.  Cook them until al dente (firm to the bite) so that they will absorb the perfect amount of dressing.  Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking right away.  Be sure the pasta is completely cooled off before adding the dressing.

Mexican pasta salad in a bowl with a fork.

Storing your Mexican Pasta Salad:

Make this recipe ahead of time and store it for an even more convenient side dish.  Just be sure that it sits no more than 2 hours before you store it.  Bacteria love to grow between 40 and 140 degrees so you want to move this pasta into a refrigerator or freezer for storage. Be sure to wrap tightly in an airtight container or resealable bag.

  • Refrigerator: Cooked pasta salad will store well for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: When properly stored pasta salad will be good in a freezer for 1-2 months.  After thawing in the refrigerator eat within 3 days.  If you thaw in the microwave eat immediately then discard.

Source link

Another Delicious

Prime Rib Rub

Prime Rib Rub takes 5 minutes to make and will be a staple in your spice cabinet! It is so fresh and flavorful you won’t want to have your prime rib any other way. I used to be nervous about cooking meat because I didn’t…